Blog Post: Leadership through Sport: Competing with, not against

Marc Gasol consoles Joel Embiid after game 7 in the Raptors/76ers series and shows his class, grace, and leadership in modeling the true value of sport. These guys play with each other season after season. I say ‘with’ because one is always competing with, not against, in sport. Athletic competition is collaborative – without your opponent, there is no game, there is no challenge, there is no excellence. It’s for excellence that we all strive.

I noticed that consoling his competitor was one of the first things Gasol did after a heart-lifting, heartbreaking buzzer beater basket by Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard in the final 4 seconds of the final 7th game of the Eastern semi final series launching the Raptors into the next playoff round. In a post game interview, Embiid would not share Gasol’s words but it was clear that they were heartfelt by both. Gasol knows the game was a back and forth effort that could have gone either way. He knows and respects his counter ‘big man’ on the floor. He knows loss, and he knows Embiid would have been there for him had the game gone the other way. To me, this picture and moment represent a true win – a true win is fair, clean, highly contested, earned with passion and risk, and enacted with integrity, before, during and after. Congrats to both teams for collaboratively achieving excellence!

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