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Friday, January 30, 2015


In 1998 Billy Packer (along with Roland Lazenby) wrote a book titles "Why We Win." It was a brilliant concept in which Packer came up with a series of questions to ask some of the top coaches in all sports to get their thoughts and views.

If you had two players that we very similar but one had a little more talent while the other had a better attitude, which one would you take? Say maybe one had better physical ability and the other had the lead in mental ability?

Joe Gibbs: For me, it was always the character.

Pat Summitt: You’ve got one player to pick for a championship. I would say the mental...I guess it was Lou Holtz who said, “I’d rather have a slow person in the right spot than a quick person in the wrong spot.”  I think that certainly it’s true in the sport of basketball that execution is as much mental as anything.  And I’d take that smart player.

Tommy Lasorda: I’ll take the guy with lesser talent and the more desire and the execution ability.  I’ll take that guy over the guy with talent.

Joe Paterno: It would depend on the level of how much better is one physically and how much smarter is the other one.  But if they were close, let’s say one guy is six in physical ability and three in intelligence and other guy is seven in intelligence and three in physical ability, I’d go with the intelligence...I asked John Wooden what quality he thought was most important on his basketball team.  He said, well, my basketball teams were always intelligent.

Dan Gable: Whether you have talent or not, that’s a big factor to me.  The higher level you get to in sports performances, you need a little big of everything to be good.  However, I would still take the young person or that athlete that had the attitude over talent.

Mike Krzyzewski:  With intelligence you have a greater chance of making other people better.  Without giving names to those two people, I would lean more toward the intelligence because basketball is all about making your teammates better, and I think you can do that if you’re smart.  Some people are quick or strong, but they use their strength and quickness in going the wrong direction.

Sparky Anderson: Well, when it gets to that, to me, it’s the intelligence and the toughness of a young man.

Lenny Wilkens: The mental (laughing).  Definitely.  I can overcome a lot of physical disadvantages.  I could use your strength against you.  I can do a lot of that, if I know how.  And so, it’s now always how strong you are.  The guy who has mental superiority will find a way.

Bill Walsh: The bulk of your squad must consist of people with functional intelligence for the sport itself, and who have the athletic ability to play their particular position very competitively with the opposition.