Many of us want to be #1 at what we do. The best poet, the top gamer, the most prolific actor, the highest-ranked student, the employee with the highest sales. Even on a less competitive scale, we may hunger for the most amount of respect among our peers or friends. Our game-show reality-TV-friendly society covets the top dog.
Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry is widely considered one of the best basketball players in the world. He's won MVP Awards, took home a championship ring two years ago, and recently broke the record for the most three-pointers in a game (13). He makes impossible shots look elementary. He dribbles like he's been doing it since birth (he likely has). He breaks ankles of 10-year veterans when he makes wild circus shots over their feeble shot-block attempts. Curry is an All-Star for a reason: he excels in his field, like very few have.
Thing is, we don't all have to aim to be Steph Curry. There's another player who was just as instrumental as the three-point specialist when they won the 2015 NBA Championship: Andre Iguodala.
The 12-year combo guard isn't flashy or dropping jaws. As a fantastic defender, Iguodala shuts down the opposing team's top stars, from Kevin Durant to LeBron James. His stat lines aren't going to make sports-page headlines. He plays as one of the best supporting cast roles in the league.
Look at his plus-minus rating. Plus-minus measures the point differential for the team when the player is on the court, which is the difference in the points scored for and the points scored against. Iggy is already, once again, in the top 10 for plus-minus, at +78. He simply makes lineups better when he's on the floor. He isn't demanding the ball but instead pushing himself to hustle to get offensive rebounds, make that extra pass, take a key charge, help rookies learn the game.
No wonder he won the Finals MVP award in 2015, instead of the on-court sensation Curry or the sharpshooter Klay Thompson.
I think it's more feasible, and more admirable, to try to be more Iguodala than Curry. How many of us can truly reach the excellence of Steph Curry? Very few. But many people have a better opportunity to be a team player like Iggy, who can help his team (think: your company, your family, your slam team) by doing the little things that end up coalescing into a major benefit to your collective.
A Grantland profile revealed how Iguodala studied the game of a player that greatly influenced his game today. "Iguodala really wanted to be like Scottie Pippen. And the more he watched, the more he realized that Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen influenced the game in profound ways, often without scoring."
You can influence your company or your community without scoring. You can assist others (get it?), defend your position to the best of your ability, block any attacks that could harm you and those you love. Forget about being #1. You can be #10 and still have a major impact on what you do.
To paraphrase an advertising cliche, be like Iggy.
About David's Blog
I write about journalism, freelancing, the arts, Toronto, technology, sports and why egg nog is under-rated.