Basketball season is almost here, and that means from time to time I'll be riffing on the connection between talent in the workplace and the NBA. Some of you will love it, some of you will unsubscribe in response to it (don't go! work through it! feel the burn), and at least one guy will comment because of it (Lance from Your HR Guy, a Trailblazers fan..). I gotta be me, so I'm dancing with the lady that got me this far...
Today's connection - the "grinders" in your workplace. The grinders are the folks who, on the surface, aren't as talented, gifted, well-liked, attractive, connected or socially aware as your top talent. But here's the scoop - they show up every day, work their *** off, and often times, through sheer effort and competitiveness, come close to performing as well as your star, and occasionally outperform the star.
They grind it out. Mama said knock you out, so they show up with their helmet on, hop in the test crash car you call a company, and take the licking and keep on ticking.
In basketball, the equivalent of a grinder comes in many flavors. One flavor is the guy/gal who can score, but has to get points from the free throw line because they don't jump well or aren't superquick. So they drive the ball to the basket, create contact, and go to the free throw line, usually after taking a beating.
In hoops, they call that doing the "Dantley". That's Adrian Dantley, who knew his role and how to get his.
"The Dantley (thuh dant'-lee) noun. Describes those performances in which a player scores a significant number of points and more than half of those points come from the foul line.
Usage example: Kobe Bryant had a Dantley in Game 1 of the Lakers' second round playoff series against the Jazz: 38 points on 8 field goals and 21 (out of 23) freethrows.
Word history: Bob Ryan invented the term (as noted in David Halberstam's Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made) to describe how Adrian Dantley was able to ignite many of his famous scoring explosions from the foul line. Dantley scored 23177 over his 18-year ABA/NBA career, and 8351 of those points -- roughly 36 percent of them -- came from the charity stripe. He led the NBA in free throws four times (and was the league scoring champion during two of those seasons) and currently ranks sixth all-time in that category. He shares the record (with Wilt Chamberlain) for most free throws made in a regular-season NBA game (28). Dude straight up knew how to draw fouls. It helped that he could bulldoze his way to the basket with his giant ass (see below).
We love to talk about the superstars, the rockstars. Take the time to say thanks to your grinders this week, and show them some love by dropping the following in a meeting this week - "Ed's doing the Dantley on the Jones account". Once they figure out the term means that you think they're outworking everyone, they'll wear it like a badge of pride.