Monday, February 6, 2012

Delivering Results

At some point people must understand, life is about delivering results. PERIOD. I see people trying to hustle, get over and take short cuts. The rich and the poor. Bernie Madoff, in all his pseudo-success, ultimately was a guy trying to hustle and take a short cut. It backfired on him. It will always backfire. There are no short cuts to long term, stable success. I sit and watch American Greed on CNBC constantly. Why does that show exist? Because there is so much content that can be created about people who tried to beat the system and failed. The next person always thinks they are smarter than the last person, only to find they were not smarter.

We try to really teach our guys this through basketball. We want them to commit themselves to delivering results at a level of excellence in every area of their life. We believe this is a habit that is developed and one of our jobs is to help our players develop this habit. Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” We agree with this quote and try to make this part of our mission as a program everyday. Chasing the ring is another way of saying chase perfection; we will find excellence that way!


We are entering that point of the season where we find out what our team is really made of. And more importantly, all these games impact whether we earn an automatic bid to the playoffs. Injuries and distractions have riddled our season thus far. And we enter the “make it or break it” points of the season looking to overcome these obstacles.

There is a poem that I require every member of our team to learn and it is a mantra by which I live. “Excuses are tools of incompetence, that build monuments of nothingness. And those that specialize in them, seldom succeed at anything else.” (Author Unknown).

Injuries and distractions or not, we will not make excuses. We will compete hard and give 100%. We will do everything possible to win. We know that we can win and if our entire team, coaches and players, trusts in each other and feeds off the chemistry we have together, we have the full potential to be successful. If one guy goes down, another guy needs to step up. That is what a TEAM is all about. We are young and the next two weeks offers us a chance to grow up individually and as a unit.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Taking the show on the road...

Returning from our showcase game in Las Vegas at UNLV, the experience made a major impression on me. Sitting in an arena where 8000 people came out for a high school basketball game was absolutely eye opening. I have not seen that here in Los Angeles at any event, including CIF Championship games. It showed me what can happen when you are in a community that genuinely cares. Businesses support. Fans support. Schools support. The whole community was engaged and involved. The energy was electric in that arena and the fact that the game sold out in only 3 days was amazing. Being a part of such a wonderful event was definitely good for our kids and clearly had a major educational impact on them about what high school basketball should really be all about. I am not sure kids get an opportunity to learn that in California, unless they are part of the fortunate few programs that get invited to an event like that. I am humbled and thankful that we were asked to be a part of such a tremendous event.

What really blew my mind was walking up to the arena that night and the radio station outside announced our arrival to about 3000 people. How they even spotted us I have no idea but that was on another level. The love we felt and the appreciation was crazy. We don’t get that at our own school so to get that in another state was absolutely great. It makes everything I do and the major sacrifices I make feel worth it. I am trying to bring that culture to our school and our community. And I believe that in time, we will have a packed gym every night that represents the fact that we have been able to bring together a community through basketball. That is what basketball is all about; bringing people together. ITS CALLED FAMILY!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Staying Focused...

Doing things the right way is how we envision our total program. Academic excellence, an emphasis on the team versus the individual, service to our community, dedication to our families and a commitment to everyone involved with our program are the core hallmarks upon which we have built our program. We never want to lose sight of what is ultimately important, even as we chase the ring everyday.

In this game of basketball, I unfortunately encounter so many people that are simply selfish and all about themselves. It can be very disheartening at times. But what I remind myself everyday is why I do this. I make sure I never get distracted by others or caught up into that web. I stay focused on the vision and never compromise my position as the leader responsible to execute that vision. I am dogmatic about protecting our core values. That does come with a cost but it is a price I am willing to pay.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Athletes and Education

Depending on what article you read, anywhere from 60% to 71% of NBA players file for bankruptcy within 5 years of retirement. One article called filing for bankruptcy a “long standing tradition for NBA players.” This not only upsets me, it appalls me. This blaring fact is an indictment on the basketball community as a whole. The basketball community that I love. The basketball community that still has not come to grips with the fact that education of our student-athletes must be the #1 priority. Whether after high school, college or the pros, every athlete WILL RETIRE! And they will be relatively young when they retire. What do they do with the rest of their life and are they prepared for that ultimate reality?

Education must become the focus for all student-athletes and their families, not a necessary evil they must endure in order to play sports at the high school and collegiate levels. The culture in my program is all about academic excellence. We demand it and require parents to be involved in the process. Families who do not buy into this find out quickly they do not fit within our culture. I could care less about winning championships, if that means sacrificing the future of young person in the process. Basketball is a tool, a means to an end. Basketball is not an end, in and of itself. I believe it is my responsibility to make sure kids learn not only core academics but life skills. Financial education and contractual education are a part of the life skills we teach our student-athletes. It is critical that players know how to count their own money and read their own contracts. Shaquille O’Neal provides a great example of an elite level player, who also has his B.A., M.B.A. and soon Ed.D. degrees. That is what this should be about for every student-athlete.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Words from Coach Middlebrooks

Coaching all starts with creating an environment for your program. I believe you must have a philosophy and the atmosphere surrounding your program must reflect that philosophy. Student-athletes, parents, the coaching staff, alumni, boosters and even the school administration must buy into the philosophy and be held accountable based on the philosophy.

As a leader outside of coaching, I learned early on it is impossible to please everyone, therefore you must create a centralized vision that everyone involved can latch on to. Those who buy in stay and those who do not buy in must go. Pretty simple. The biggest mistake a leader can make is trying to please everyone and not having a clearly defined and articulated vision. Without vision, the people perish. A double minded person is unstable in all his ways. Leaders who don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.

Our program philosophy is pretty simple: everything we do is about strengthening the Ribet Academy community. This requires selflessness, sacrifice and teamwork. Everyone involved with our program in any way must embrace this unconditionally. We are a cohesive unit; we are one community. That is what Ribet Basketball is all about; FAMILY!