Former NBA coach Del Harris brings basketball knowledge to everyday life


DelHarrisHaving been involved in professional basketball for nearly 40 years, Del Harris knows a little something about what it takes to be part of a team.

Much of what Harris has learned in professional sports also translates to everyday life, according to Star Local news.

That’s the message Harris, currently the general manager of Frisco’s Texas Legends, gives in his latest book, “On Point: Four Steps to Better Life Teams.”

Harris’ book discusses how everyone is on a “life team” of some sort – such as a family, a business group or a school class – and how those teams rely on all their team members.

“We’re all members of various teams as we traverse through life in that each of us has what I call an influence quotient,” Harris said. “That’s the capability to influence others for good or for bad — that capability needs to be developed in order for us to influence our life teams for good.”

Another major aspect of Harris’ book is the separation of success from leadership, something Harris has found doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

As a former NBA coach of the year who won more than 500 games as a head coach in the league, he should know.

While every team has a leader, “On Point” attempts to explain how other team members can play roles that are just as important. If every team was full of leaders, there would be no unification and the team would fail, Harris said.

“There’s been such a concentration on leadership that a lot of times people think they’re failures in life if they haven’t become leaders,” Harris said.

“This book is the other side of the coin for leadership – it compliments leadership, but what it does is gives honor to the role players on every team in life.”

To emphasize his points, Harris uses several examples of his own personal experiences and the experiences of close friends to explain his reasoning.

One of those examples is the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Harris, who was a Mavericks assistant from 2000 to 2007, said the Mavericks won the championship against the more talented Miami Heat team because they recognized the importance of role players.

Sports-related anecdotes aren’t the only thing Harris uses to make his points, however. Much of his reasoning is backed up through the use of scripture, something that came naturally to Harris since he’s an ordained minister.

del-harris-bookDespite the anecdotes, Harris said one of the most important things he hopes people take away from the book is how to look beyond statistical or award-based accomplishments.

“I’ve coached somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 games, but I don’t remember most of those games,” he said. “What I do remember are the good relationships we developed over those years, and I’m happy to say I have friends of up to 50 years who played for me. We stay in contact, and one of the ultimate aspects in team development is relationships even more than trophies.”

Harris hasn’t slowed down forming those relationships in recent years, either. In addition to being the general manager of the Texas Legends, he also served as an assistant coach of the Dominican Republic’s national team this summer in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

That team was led by head coach John Calipari, who is also the head coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and a good friend of Harris.

With all that activity in mind, it might be surprising that Harris found the time to write “On Point,” but writing is actually one of his lifelong passions. “On Point” is Harris’ fifth book, though the others were more focused on basketball.

Harris credits his high school English teacher for his writing passion, and said a writing course he took while he was obtaining his master’s in history only made him love it even more. About 10 years after he obtained his master’s degree, he even started planning a novel.

“I spent a fair amount of time researching a novel in 1974, but then I didn’t follow through on it – I didn’t get far enough when basketball season started again,” Harris said.

“By the time the ABA season was over, I was getting ready for the NBA season next year, so I never had the chance to finish it. I still have those notes, but I don’t think I’ll ever write the book.”

Though that book never came to fruition, it’s clear Harris won’t dwell on it, as he’s enjoyed his time with his various life teams.

“When you have a unified effort, you’re going to become the best team — or family, business, whatever — you can be,” Harris said. “You may not always win a championship, but those bonds can last a lifetime.”

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