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By Chris Hislop // Published on Nov 18, 2020

If you’ve paid any attention to the Boldwerks blog over the years, you’re no stranger to these types of entries. It’s fun to have a little bit of fun, and take a look at the legacy of a larger-than-life personality and put a creative marketing centric spin on some of the words that came out of said party’s mouth. Today we pay tribute to Tommy Heinsohn, who, perhaps, isn’t as “globally” well known as some of the other figures we’ve shed some light on. But, this writer bleeds green, and feels it’s in his best interest to shed some of that Irish good fortune on a man that dedicated his whole life to the Boston Celtics – our “hometown” team here in Portsmouth. The epitome of “homer”, Tommy never waned from his love of the C’s – much to the dismay of many an official…

Tommy, who passed away last week (on November 10th, 2020), was a piece of every single championship (17 in total – an NBA record) that the Celtics have raised in their rafters – either as a player (8), a coach (2), or a broadcaster (7). No other NBA personality has that achievement on their resume, and it’s quite likely it’ll never happen again. For that, let’s go ahead and give him 17 Tommy Points right out of the gate…

Now, let’s get down to the task at hand.

“I try to put all I am as a person into what I do. My intelligence, my emotion… I’ve done that in everything.”

In business, and in everyday general life, this ought to be the baseline. If you’re not putting every bit of your being into the pieces of your life that matter most to you, you’re not going to reach your maximum potential. And, as it relates to business, if you’re falling short of max potential, you’re leaving an indefinite amount of “success” on the table – which isn’t the most desirable variable as you work towards increasing organizational growth, from the bottom line, to your marketing strategies, to team building culture, and beyond… Your brains and your heart matter. Utilize them to the fullest.

“I play basketball for love and money, and they come in interchangeable order, depending on how things are going when you ask the question”

Yeah, we know that there are dialogues out there that will tell you that the bottom line is everything. Conversely, there are others that will tell you that it’s less about the money, and more about the heart, or feeling, that goes into work life and business goals. Tommy’s vantagepoint above is pretty spot on – in all its vague glory. Do it for the love, do it for the money. If you’ve got both as the working guise that you utilize to navigate your internal operation, success will work itself out. And don’t sorrow in defeat. If the money isn’t coming, lean more on your love, and keep “fighting that good fight” in hopes that things get turned around. They will.

“I enjoy watching competitive people. You watch ‘em come and you watch ‘em go, and how they try to be the best. How they handle when they’re not. How they handle when they are. How they get along together on the court…”

Learn from your peers. Study your industry. Understand what works and what doesn’t. Who is doing it best? Who is doing it worst? There’s a takeaway from stepping outside of yourself, and soaking up the competitive world around you. There’s also a lot to be said about how you handle your work practices. Truth is, you’ll win and you’ll lose. What matters most is how well you broadcast both. Humility – in success, and defeat, is crucial to how others will view your own person, and thus, your brand.

“I love WALTAH!”

The Celtics were pretty bad in the mid-90s. But, they had Walter McCarty. Walter wasn’t a perennial all-star. In fact, he was never an all-star. But he became an ever-lasting fan favorite due in part to the enthusiasm Tommy had for him both as a player and as a person. His work ethic earned him praise. I think the lesson here is this – when times are good, and when times are bad, it’s important to show your team that you appreciate them if they’re working their hardest. The wins may not be piling up, but, if you’re treating them well, and they’re giving you their all, good things are bound to come. Optimism is something Tommy was full of, and we’d all be better off if we can soak some of that positivity up!

“I think my partner Mike Gorman said it best. He said there’s a generation of fans who know me as a player, there’s a generation of fans who know me as a coach, and now there’s a generation of fans who think I’m Shrek!”

In the sport of basketball, the highest honor you can achieve is being enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Tommy Heinsohn is in the Hall of Fame both as a player (1986), and as a coach (2015), and, with any luck, he’ll also be in there as a broadcaster… He is, by all accounts, the most decorated basketball personality in the history of the sport. But, he never stopped having fun, and realized that you ought not to take yourself too seriously 100% of the time. Put in the work. Put in the study. Put in the time. Do it as best you can. But don’t forget about the element of fun – it’s as important as striving to be your absolute best.

“You gotta learn that if you’re gonna take the last shot of the game, it’s either gonna go in, or it’s not gonna go in, and you’re either gonna be the hero, or the goat.”

Take risks. Present that crazy idea you have percolating in your mind. There’s something to the sentiment that claims, with great risk comes great reward. Sure, it might flop. The most successful businesses have their fair share of both wins and losses. When you boil it down, there’d be no success if you didn’t take the shot. So take the shot and live with the consequence – for better or worse.

“This is ridiculous!”

If you’ve ever watched a Celtics game in the last three decades, you’ve heard this come out of Tommy’s mouth. Many a referee suffered the wrath of Heinsohn, who wasn’t afraid to call out a bad call. If you’re not sticking up for your team, who’s going to do it? Be a homer. Give your all to the team (we’ve been over this). Call out the people that may be harming the squad. Hold those who should be accountable, accountable. Do it for your brand. Do it for the win.

“About the time you are getting to know the moves in this game, someone comes along and does everything but undress you on the basketball floor. Standing there under the basket with your hands cupped – and finding out you don’t have the ball in them – is a great little old leveler.”

Don’t rest. Even if you think you know it all. Even if you think you can do it all. Don’t rest. You might be the best ball handler in the business. The best shooter. The best dunker. The best passer. Whatever the role, the best can always be beaten if you’re not paying attention. Because, as we’ve mentioned above with the whole “studying” piece, your competition is also studying you. And where there are folks studying you, there are folks that can take the ball right out of your mitts when you least expect it. Be prepared, and never let your guard down…

“The team that best manages its frustration is gonna win this game…”

Sometimes it comes down to being the utmost professional and weathering a storm that might be raining down on you from a third party (we’re looking at the refs again here…). If you lose your cool and start lashing out, that might present itself as a bad look and people that have been on your side, might start jumping ship. Even if things are going poorly, keep your cool. Hold your head up. Walk away from something you have no control over. When you manage “the game” with a calm demeanor in the face of adversity, you’re going to come out ahead – even if the end result is a loss.

That’s a Tommy Point!”

Yet another “Tommy-ism” that you’ve definitely heard if you’ve ever watched a Celtics broadcast in the last 30+ years… Tommy was generous in rewarding players on the team for their hard work. As a business owner or manager, that’s important. Reward your team. Be enthusiastic in your celebration of them as professionals and as people. Lead by this example. The Tommy Point has become a global phenomenon for any basketball fan worth their salt. There’s something to it. Trust us. Trust Tommy. When your team is as pumped as you are, there’s nothing stopping you from piling up the wins, and hoisting banners into the rafters…

RIP Tommy. There is simply no set of feet that can fill the shoes you walked around in. And that’s okay. The lessons you broadcast to us – by design or inadvertently – will last for generations to come. Thank you for everything

Tagged Under - Business Advice + Marketing
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