Conley

Mike Conley Wins Second NBA Teammate of Year Award

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You probably have opinions about the NBA — many of them not so flattering. You may think the players have super-sized egos, are selfish, don’t care about other people, and are really all about making millions, buying mansions, and living lives of privilege and luxury.

Maybe this is true in some cases.

But not all.

There’s a player who has been in the league for 17 years who stands for so many values antithetical to selfishness and greed. He is Mike Conley, a guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves who was named this week the NBA’s Twyan-Stokes “Teammate of the Year” Award for the second time in his career.

The player who wins this award is “deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to the team.”

Winning this award once is impressive; twice tells you this is a very special human being. We can all learn from Mike Conley because his life is about more substantive things than just being a talented basketball player – and isn’t that refreshing and uplifting to know? He’s also won a sportsmanship award from the league four times.

Upon being selected for this special award he’s done media interviews with TNT and USA Today. His thoughts about winning the award are valuable for all of us who want to be better teammates in our organizations, be more selfless, and make a contribution to the world beyond our jobs, be a person whom people will remember fondly long after they’re gone.

He told TNT he tries to “be a good person, humble, and respectful of those around him. It’s not about you. It’s about what you can give to the world and how can you affect it in a positive way.”
USA Today asked what makes a good teammate.

“Being able to communicate to guys, having everybody’s best interest at heart, doing things for more for other than you for yourself.”

Conley lives his life for more than scoring points and being the team’s star. He guides his seven-year-old son who is a gifted athlete: “I know you can score the goal. But how about trying to make a great pass for this person or try to get your good friend over there a good look or just trying to get them to understand the team concept and how much more fulfilling it is when you see others succeed, not just yourself.”

When people live their lives this way, clues as to why often show up deep in their backgrounds. Conley credits his parents for teaching him how to live for others.

“They’ve been the ones who have guided and pushed me the template on how to do things at a young age.”

As a youth basketball player, he wanted to get a girl on his team more engaged in the sport. He asked himself: “How can I get this girl a layup if she doesn’t really like basketball? I felt like she’d have more funds if she got a shot off. I just found ways to use my talent to just try to get other people to enjoy their experience on the court.”

He says the key to living the way he does is having empathy for others. “I put myself in everybody’s shoes. Everybody can be spoken to in different ways, and I just have the ability to recognize that with each person and build a connection with everybody.”

Being others-focused, it’s not surprising he doesn’t seek credit for being concerned with others. “I don’t expect credit. I don’t expect awards.”

Think about most of us. We go to work. We do our jobs. We tend to want to credit and awards but Conley teaches us there are more important goals. We should be asking: What else do we do? Do we care about the people we work with? Do we really know them? Besides their names and job functions, do we know anything else about these people? Do we care?

We should?

I know I could be a much better teammate and Conley’s story gives me insights on how to do this. Ultimately, work is work but interpersonal relationships are more important. How we treat each other, the hope we instill not in ourselves but the people we spend our time with, is ultimately what matters most.

“This award signifies so much more than the game, so much more than basketball,” he says. “It signifies the kind of person you are, the kind of compassion you have, and how you effectively change people around you for the better.”

Asked why he won, he said: “Ultimately, guys take away the fact that I put them above me at all times.”

Putting others above ourselves — isn’t this how we are supposed to be and yet isn’t this so hard when we get worried about our jobs and money and security and our big fat egos? We know it’s important and the right way to live yet we struggle to live that way because we get caught up in our own selfish endeavors and just don’t care enough about other people nearly as often as we should.

I had no idea this guy Mike Conley was the classy and admirable human being he was until I read about his award this morning. Until reading about him today he was a talented basketball player I have known about since he starred at Ohio State.

Now I know so much more about him.

And I’m so impressed with who he is.

Thank you, Mike Conley, for showing us how to live for others.

You’re an inspiration to us all.

Sammy Sportface

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Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
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Author Profile

Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:

Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out

Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page
Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface

Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here: Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page

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