Competitors will always claim otherwise, but I guarantee you two things: they all read what others say about them, and the best turn those words into chips that they proudly wear on their shoulders. Consider the Golden State Warriors.
Do you believe Warriors star Klay Thompson may have had a chip on his shoulder on his way to NBA Finals glory?
Let us consult Jaren Jackson, Jr.
When he saw himself being called out by Thompson on national television following Game 6, which Golden State won to clinch their fourth championship in eight seasons, Jackson of the Memphis Grizzlies must have gagged on his beer nuts sitting on his living room couch last Thursday. “There was the one player on the Grizzlies who Tweeted’strength in numbers’ after they beat us in the regular season,” Thompson recalled in the midst of victory. It really irritated me. “I can’t wait to retweet that,” he said, to his interviewer’s snickers.
“Are you going to make fun of us?” Thompson continued in his usual friendly manner. “Like you haven’t been there before, bro.” We have been there. We understand what it takes. “Can you hold that?”
Then came the clincher: “I have an elephant’s memory.” I’ll never forget it. There were many people who kicked us when we were down.
Of course, there were many people who predicted Golden State would win, but that kind of thinking wouldn’t have motivated many people, would it?
And then there was Stephen Curry, the series MVP, clutching not only his Maurice Podoloff Trophy and the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy but also a bright, Celtic green shirt with the words “Alesha Curry Can’t Cook” emblazoned across the front. What was it? A strange inside joke he wanted to share with his wife, a celebrity chef and cookbook author with a Food Network show called “Ayesha’s Homemade?”
No way in hell. The shirt was an eye-catching, fade-away three-point reminder of what Boston sports bar Game On! Fenway spoke highly of his wife, Ayesha,’s culinary abilities. Ahead of games 3 and 4, the restaurant posted a picture of a sign with the phrase “Ayesha Curry Can’t Cook.”
Are we going after family members? An awful idea And why give the greatest shooter in NBA history another reason to want to beat you at home, in front of your adoring fans? A worse idea yet?
Trash talking is entertaining until your sharp words are returned to you in the form of Thompson, Draymond Green, Curry, and the Golden State Warriors. Following the Golden State Warriors NBA Finals victory on Thursday night, their leaders reminded everyone that they had long memories as well as long jump shots as they cozied up to their interviewers’ microphones to settle some old scores.
Speaking of “chips,” that edge, that chip, has also played a significant role in business. Once upon a time, IBM was regarded as the most powerful technology company in the world due to its computing systems. Then came Apple Computer, cultivating an outsider and underdog edge that propelled them from the basements of bootstrappers Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to Silicon Valley as the world’s most valuable brand.
Nothing can take you as far and as quickly as a carefully cultivated chip. If you live in the southern United States, you may have seen at least some of the NBA Finals on one of the many television screens that line the walls of a restaurant chain called Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux. Walk-ons, which began as a beer and burger bar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was named ESPN’s “Best Sports Bar in America” in 2012. By 2020, the company had significantly improved its menu, expanded to dozens of locations, and ranked first on Entrepreneur’s list of new franchises.
Its founders, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner were literally walk-on basketball players at the legendary Louisiana State University, where their jobs were to assist their teammates in getting all the attention. The experience taught the couple some valuable business lessons. Taking pride in their unnoticed contributions and proving themselves every day were two of the most important. They turned this underdog work ethic into a “celebration of the walk-on lifestyle” and extraordinary commercial success as the focal points of a growing list of communities in which they operate.
The Warriors coach, Steve Kerr, has included the chip among the four principles he calls his leadership style, which includes joy, mindfulness, compassion, and competition. The chip is neatly hidden in the fourth of these, which Kerr sums up as “We compete.” We keep track of things. We make certain that there are winners and losers. “
The Warriors were careful and kept the score close, and those were undoubtedly tears of joy Curry and his teammates were crying after the game.
Green, who received the lion’s share of the trash-talking, did give Celtics star Jayson Tatum a long hug after the game.
Of course, that was just plain good sportsmanship. However, there is no chip for Tatum to remember when they meet again. As the Warriors are fond of saying, this is championship DNA in action.