Leadership Lessons From The Toronto Raptors Winning The NBA Title

The team that had those purple jerseys, that have had a history of all-star talent (McGrady, Oakley, Isiah, Vinsanity, Stoudamire, CB4, etc), that started playing in a Baseball stadium, to #WeTheNorth, firing their coach of the year, trading away a fan favorite, to beating the best team in the league for the past 1/2 decade, […]

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The team that had those purple jerseys, that have had a history of all-star talent (McGrady, Oakley, Isiah, Vinsanity, Stoudamire, CB4, etc), that started playing in a Baseball stadium, to #WeTheNorth, firing their coach of the year, trading away a fan favorite, to beating the best team in the league for the past 1/2 decade, there are many stories with the Raptors and their championship.

The one that jumps out is the moves the team made a year ago, when they let go Dwane Casey, the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year, and traded DeMar DeRozan, who most would say was their best player.

Wow did fans lose their shit over those moves. What were they thinking? This will blow up.

And it did. Masai Ujiri (GM of Toronto) didn’t hide behind the moves. The press questioned his motives, fans were upset, as I’m sure some of the players were as well.

By blowing up, it meant tens of thousands of championship starved fans filling the streets of Toronto, celebrating the NBA’s new champions.

Toronto is a HUGE city. It’s almost 3x the size of Boston: that city that wins all the championships, well other than losing to the Blues this year. Happy for St. Louis, and for Boston, you’ll have to wait a few months for your next parade. Deal with it 😉

The leadership lesson is that often times leaders make decisions that are not popular. They’re not easy moves, but for the best of the organization it’s the right move to make.

A classic example is when the Detroit Pistons during their “Bad Boys” reign traded away NBA/ABA all-time great Adrian Dantley for Mark Aguirre. Similar reaction in the press and with fans.

The Pistons won back-to-back titles, before Michael Jordan decided he wanted to win 6 rings in 8 years.

Leadership moves can be unpopular, and quite frankly cause some team members to leave (either by self-selection, or they get de-hired.) However, leaders have a job to do: Lead. They set the vision, they determine the destination of the organization. Ujiri, MLSE, and the Raptors bought into the vision, and now they are champions of the game that Dr. James Naismith invented in 1891.

Strong organizations believe in their leadership, and let them make the moves that are necessary to win.

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