One of the main attributes of Michael Jordan is the fact that he was dedicated and focused on the ultimate goal all the time, and that was becoming an NBA championship. Even though he was a brilliant individual, he was always taught the game the right way and understood it takes the entire team to be on the same page if you want to win, primarily if you aim to win the NBA championship.
Phil Jackson was also crucial in the grand scheme of things with the Bulls and insisted that everybody on the team states their main individual goals for the upcoming season before every practice camp started. Every player on the squad would share different things they are aiming for, while for Jordan, the answer always remained the same.
Before the start of every season, his goal was clear: to win an NBA championship no matter what happens. He understood the process of getting there and that everyone on the team needs to be fully aligned when it comes to the hard work they have to endure to become champions.
The night before training camp was due to begin, Phil Jackson would ask around the room, soliciting from each player his individual goals. Back came the answers: points, rebounds, assists, an All-Star game performance. Jordan would always say the same thing:
‘I have no individual goals. We play for one reason, and that’s to win the title. The practice is more important than the games, and I will practice when I’m hurt when 95 percent of players in the league would sit out. I expect all of you to do the same thing. You will follow my lead.
And follow they did
That type of approach towards practice and getting everybody on the same mental level starts at the base, which for Jordan was training camp. Toni Kukoc used to say the Bulls practices were much worse than the games because Jordan pushed everyone to the extreme limits. He showed up ready and motivated to compete and expected the same from his teammates.
Nowadays, many players don’t hold themselves accountable and are not even expected to be. If you are not a superstar, different rules apply, and great teams adopt their best player’s mentality. As a squad, the Bulls immediately understood what needs to be done to achieve the goal they mapped out before the practice camp started. Jordan was there to push them to the extreme limits, and it paid off big time for everyone.