Throughout my career both as a player and a coach, I’ve encountered valuable advice that has shaped my perspective. These nuggets of wealth have helped me guide others towards success and I want to share a crucial lesson I learned during my time in Europe, which revolves around the power of positivity and self-belief.

Never be negative about yourself in the press:

“What you might think of as being real, is the food they will use as sharks to tear you apart. Let them be Negative Nancy, you be Positive Peter.” These insightful words were imparted to me by Chris Fleming, a renowned basketball coach who currently serves as an Assistant Coach for the Chicago Bulls. I received this invaluable advice after a press conference in Germany, where I had been coaching in the German BBL.

Chris was a coach for many years in Germany, winning multiple titles but was always generous with his time and often spoke with me about different things when our paths crossed. In this particular instance, I had just lost a tough game coaching my team against his. I was not pleased with my coaching that game and said just that in the press conference directly after the game. One of the things I remember saying was something to the effect of, “I got outcoached, plain and simple.”

Chris was seated next to me and I remember him directly turning his head while I spoke and looking at me. He was graceful towards me in his comments and then we left the press room. He then took my arm and led me to a quiet part of the hallway to talk. 

That was when he told me that piece of advice. He may not remember it, but that talk has stayed with me since then because of its simple truth. I realized I did not have to beat myself up in the press, they will do it for me if I do not do my job correctly. 

The same can be said for players who have a bad game and have a microphone shoved in their faces a few moments afterward. The point is not to say you had a great game even when you did. The point is that you do not need to fuel the fire. 

The impact of negative self-perception:

In the competitive world of basketball, it’s natural to be critical of oneself, especially after a tough loss or a disappointing performance. However, dwelling on those negative aspects and openly expressing them in the press can have detrimental consequences. When we engage in self-deprecating remarks, we inadvertently provide ammunition to those who may seek to undermine our abilities and achievements.

The media’s role:

In the press, the media often looks for controversial and attention-grabbing statements. They thrive on sensationalism and negative narratives, as these tend to generate more interest and engagement. Therefore, overseas basketball players need to recognize the potential harm that negative self-talk can cause when amplified through the media.

Building resilience through positivity:

Instead of succumbing to self-doubt and negativity, it is crucial to adopt a positive mindset. Embracing positivity allows us to build resilience, maintain confidence, and focus on our strengths. By highlighting our successes and growth opportunities rather than dwelling on setbacks, we can shape a narrative that portrays us as dedicated, motivated, and eager to improve.

The power of self-belief:

Believing in oneself is a fundamental aspect of success in any field, and basketball is no exception. When we project positivity and self-assurance, we not only inspire confidence within ourselves but also attract the attention of coaches, scouts, and teams. By cultivating a mindset rooted in self-belief, we position ourselves for greater opportunities and long-term success in the overseas basketball arena.

Practical strategies for maintaining positivity:

1. Practice positive self-talk: Replace self-criticism with affirmations and constructive feedback.

2. Surround yourself with a supportive network: Seek out mentors, coaches, and teammates who uplift and inspire you.

3. Focus on the process: Emphasize personal growth, skill development, and continuous improvement rather than solely focusing on outcomes.

4. Celebrate achievements: Acknowledge and appreciate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

It is vital to understand the influence of the media and the power of our own self-perception. By heeding Chris Fleming’s advice and refusing to be negative about ourselves in the press, we can shape our narratives, inspire others, and pave the way for a successful basketball career. 

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