The Dallas Mavericks will try to stave off elimination from the NBA playoffs tonight — and while they will undoubtedly be taking the court for each other, Mavs players will also be competing as part of something larger.
Before the season began, Dallas executives decided to list the names of all 337 players who have ever suited up for the franchise on the baselines of the court at the American Airlines Center — a unique cultural touch intended to blend past with present.
Alongside icons like Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic are less-familiar names like Jim Grandholm and Kelvin Upshaw, symbolizing that whether a player scored 30,000 points or competed for just a season, he has contributed to making the organization what it is today.
“I think it’s very cool. The history of the Mavs is very important and should be talked about more,” Coach Jason Kidd said earlier this year.
“When you talk about when they first started with my bowling shirt — getting a lot of attention right now — that was the warm-ups and they were good. Dick Motta’s teams were really, really good. And so there’s a lot of history and hopefully I can help the younger guys on this team understand who those names are, and that’s my responsibility.”
While we may not necessarily have the physical or financial capabilities to replicate this specific gesture within our own teams, the Mavs’ cultural touch has some key reminders for us as leaders.
Ultimately, our organization is shaped in one way or another by those who have walked before us. While some of our team members’ contributions may not be obvious in a spreadsheet or in record books, each has uniquely added to the greater prestige of what exists today.
Recognizing them in even a minimal way is a means of expressing our gratitude, reinforcing our larger tradition, and reminding our current members that they are key pieces in something far greater than just themselves.
As we take over new teams in the months ahead or try to re-affirm a culture that’s become unglued in some capacity, we may benefit from reflecting on what the Mavericks have done.
A key to moving our teams forward might actually be returning to our roots.
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