Pythons and Tattoos Help 76ers Overachieve


Can show and tell with your teammates lead to success on an NBA court?

The question seems to have helped the Philadelphia 76ers reach the playoffs for the first time in years. While some may think the game should be reserved for a classroom, the 76ers are actually proving it to be a great team building exercise.

The monthly show-and-tell gatherings started around 2012 when the team entered what has become known as  the Process Era – period in which  team and leadership building became the focus. The rebuilding era was furthered when the 76ers lost sixteen players in the 2014 season, either to free agency or by being waived by the team.

Only six players from that season returned in 2015.  They were complemented by the addition of rookie Joel Embiid and Croatian player, Dario Saric. Neither player had an immediate impact on the team though, and expectations were low due to a stress fracture in Embiid’s foot and Saric’s wanting to play in the Turkish league for a number of years.

The 76ers showed some progress at the beginning of the Process Era by winning their first three games in 2014, including one against the Miami Heat, one of the best teams in the league at the time. They had a hard time keeping pace with the rest of the league after that. The organization went on to lose twenty-six straight games that year and finished with a record of 19 and 63.

Another key acquisition for the 76ers occurred in 2016, when they drafted LSU Forward, Ben Simmons, who became an integral part of the organization’s future. With several key players in place and more of a group atmosphere established within the organization, the 76ers began looking towards the future and the possibility of winning championships.

The organization managed to make the playoffs for the first time in six years in 2018. While individual players and the head coach deserve much credit, a lot of the winning is due to the 76ers’ team-building exercises.

Coach Brett Brown started planning monthly team get-togethers that included players, coaches and front-office personnel.  Every month a member of the organization would conduct a show-and-tell presentation in front of their colleagues. The belief was that it would help build a more family-like bond between within the organization.

One player, Robert Covington used the team building exercise to illustrate his love of reptiles. After Covington was done with his presentation, he produced a four-foot bumblebee python from his backpack and asked his teammates if they would like to meet his pet, Max.

The room’s occupants quickly scattered.  “Don’t bring that thing near me, or I’ll kill it!” Embiid said.

Another player, Amir Johnson, chose to use his show-and-tell time to educate the organization on tattoos. He talked about the origins of body art and displayed pictures of tattoos from players across the NBA.

“Tattoos have been a part of my life for a while,” Johnson said. “I did research, and explained how they became a part of the culture and what inspired me to get mine.”

Show and tell isn’t the only exercise the organization uses to establishing team building and trust. They also have guest speakers come in and share their personal experiences with them.

Whether this practice will lead to the 76ers continued success remains to be seen, but it is definitely something that other teams may wind up considering when thinking about team-building and rebuilding.

According to team building website, Leadership Vision Consulting, “The beauty of this exercise ( show and tell) is that each person is given a platform to speak, to be heard, and to be known in a different way.”

The Philadelphia 76ers eliminated the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs earlier this week.  They will next take on the winner of the Boston-Milwaukee series which Boston currently leads three games to two.

Photo by the Philadelphia 76ers via Flickr

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