The Aaron Harber Show

Key Coaching Advice: "Shut Up!"
May 27, 2009
By Aaron Harber

As the Denver Nuggets take on the Los Angeles Lakers, the best advice Coach George Karl can give his players is to “shut up.”  Denver players will be incessantly asked if they any chance of beating the mighty Lakers.  They will be offended --- taking the bait and explaining why Denver is the better team.  Such responses would be a huge mistake. 

The smartest move for the Nuggets is to speak only glowingly of the Lakers or say nothing at all --- until the series is over.  The Nuggets can make their statements on the court. 

Too many times Denver fans have seen blowhards damage their own chances by talking trash.  Sports fans can recall Jay Cutler talking about how he had the best arm in the NFL and then watching opposing defenses get fired up to crush him. 

And the players have seen what happens when opposing teams get agitated after someone challenges them.  What is to be gained by opening one’s mouth?  Basketball at this elite level involves extraordinary-caliber athletes whose margins of winning or losing could easily be determined by motivational levels.  So don’t say a single word which could energize the opposition or even be construed (or misconstrued) to challenge them. 

As the Houston Rockets proved, even lesser teams can defeat superior teams in a single game.  By being the underdog, the Nuggets can increase their chances of winning by avoiding the temptation to prove --- in word, not deed --- they are better than the Lakers. 

And the Nuggets’ coach needs to make sure his players understand they should be prepared for some bad calls.  A key to upsetting the Lakers will be to avoid getting out-of-control and overly emotional. 

It not only is a prudent strategy to avoid saying anything which motivates an opponent, it also is good sportsmanship to speak only highly of them.  Sportsmanship, of course, has suffered in an era where teams outlandishly celebrate not only after a victory but during a game when a big play is made (including one by the team which is losing).  The Nuggets should save their bragging for the time they’re hoisting the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. 

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