THE 80-20 RULE

As we approached our first regular season game we began to include the basketball more and more. While we thought our coach was being tough and completely unreasonable during the pre-season, we would later have answers to our questions during the pregame speech of our first game. He wrote on the team board positioned on the wall these numbers “80/20”. We initially thought he expected us to beat our opponent 80 to 20. Although, we were a very talented team our opponent featured University of Maryland recruit Steve Francis, so we knew Stevie could drop 30 points himself. He would begin to explain the two numbers;

80: 80% of the Game of Basketball is Mental.

The legendary, John B. McLendon who was the last living protégé of basketball inventor, Dr. Naismith and the founder of the “fast break” offense suggested that “It’s impossible to get tired if you want to win badly enough.” If you conquer these two mental hurdles you will defeat your opponent; Mentally.


I recall as a high school player watching a group of college guys who were from my neighborhood work so hard on their conditioning during the grueling summer months. They were known for running the bleachers at Byrd Stadium (University of Maryland football stadium). After hours of conditioning they would then shoot over a thousand shots. They all have become good friends of mine but one of those guys would have a long career oversees and would later be the first player Michael Jordan added to the Wizards roster while MJ was an executive with the team. David Vanderpool, now serves as the associate head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and with those same qualities of the past…Dedicating himself to the game are now shared with 3-time all-star, and former Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.

Dedication requires you to work on your game when the gyms aren’t crowded with fans.
Dedication requires you to be so heavily focused on your goal that you constantly think about how hard your opponent is or is not working.
Dedication is the beginning and the end of your love for the game.


There are many life lessons you will learn during your journey of playing basketball—some will be rewarding, while other times it will be extremely challenging. Determination is a trait that many don’t have; it’s unique. For example imagine if you’ve played at the highest level in college, became a NBA All-Star and finally you win an OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL. This should be considered a very successful career for any player! Not for Alonzo Morning. After winning the gold medal, he was diagnosed with a rare and fatal kidney disease, which would cause him to retire, and un-retire. After being cleared by his doctors he would return to the Miami Heat in 2006 and win a NBA Title.

Determination is often times synonymous with a “no quit” attitude. In sports you will be faced with wins and loses. It’s evitable you will in fact—lose. I have yet to know a player who has never lost. What you do with your most challenging moment will ultimately define your level of DETERMINATION.

20: 20% of the Game of Basketball Is Physical.

In 2012 Anthony Davis was 6’10”, in 2012 Davis was selected first overall in the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. As a high school player he entered his freshmen year 6’0”, with no colleges interested until his junior season. By the time he concluded his junior year he had grown 7 inches and picked up several college offers along the way. As the number one rated player in the national class of 2011, he would choose the University of Kentucky to play basketball.

Although it’s extremely rare to grow nearly 10 inches in four years, what’s often missed in this story is how his talent would never diminish throughout his growths Prut. He could always shoot the ball but now he had to learn the low post. As a player you must continue to improve your game. If you want to be competitive you must put in the work no matter what the future brings. I always tell my players, “at some point during the season your effort off the court will show if you’ve outworked your opponent during the offseason.”

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