There are 5 basic motives for playing the game of basketball:
|5 For Money. Anyone who has been a fan of professional basketball for awhile has observed that money is a real motivation for some players. In fact, it is so common in the NBA for a player to perform better when his contract is due for renewal, that “Contract Year Phenomenon” even has its own wikipedia entry.|
|4 For Yourself. On the surface this seems like an acceptable reason for playing basketball — until you remember it is a team sport. Unfortunately, at all levels of basketball, you find players who are willing to “get theirs” at the expense of their team.|
|3 For the Crowd. Playing for the crowd may be the gray area of basketball. After all, basketball is a game, and games are supposed to be fun… and the crowd wants to be pleased. However, at all levels of basketball, you find players who take unnecessary risks to have their pass, steal, dunk or acrobatic shot “wow” the crowd and make the highlight reel.|
|2 For your Team. These are the players coaches love. Players who are “team first” do whatever is required for their team to win. Team players play their hearts out when they are on the floor, and when they are on the bench, they cheer for their teammates on the floor. These players space the floor, move without the ball, set picks, box out, rebound, dive for loose balls, and pass as a part of the game, not because they couldn’t find themselves a shot.|
|1 For the Love of the Game. These are my favorite players. Because players who play for the love of the game want to play the game right, they are identical to players who are “team first,” but with one important difference: there are some things they will not do. Players who play for the love of the game would do anything to help their team win, except disrespect the game — and that includes disrespecting their teammates, coaches, opponents and the fans. Players with a real love of the game, give everything they have (and seemingly more) to championship basketball, and are “class acts” in the process.|
I’m not saying any of these motives are bad, I’ve just listed them in descending order of how I value them.
As a coach and a fan of the game, it is probably important to understand that the players on the floor come from different places, and adjust our expectations accordingly.