Is Winning the Final Game of the Season All That Matters?

This season the Golden State Warriors set an NBA record for the number of wins across the regular season, finishing with 73 wins & 9 losses. However, their season is being regarded as a failure, having lost the championship to Cleveland in Game 7 of the finals.

So why is so such emphasis placed on winning the last game of the season? We know that every season one team is going to win the title, but in the 70-year history of NBA, the Warriors achieved a first… and yet the Cleveland victory considered to mean so much more.

The five points that separated the Warriors from the title in Game 7, ultimately means that they will never be regarded among the greatest sides of all time.

Should we measure success in such black and white, make or break moments? Gregg Popovich, one of the NBA’s greatest coaches, believes not.

“In today’s world, if you don’t win the whole thing, whether it’s football or basketball, or this and that, people have a tendency to paint you as a loser or act like you just robbed the cookie jar. Well that’s baloney.

“It didn’t happen for us, but is everything going to go your way in life? You think you’re on the Earth and everything you want to happen to you is going to happen to you positively? The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way” – Gregg Popovich, NBA Coach of the San Antonio Spurs.

Given the Warriors won the NBA championship in the prior season, expectations may be the predominant reason their season is regarded a failure. But, let’s consider another remarkable achievement this year – Leicester City,  who defied 5000:1 odds to win the English Premier League. Imagine, however, if they were unable to hang onto their lead, and finished second. How would the story of their season be told and remembered?


I doubt we would hear the heartwarming messages of a renewed faith in sport, along with the notion that money and resources are not all powerful –  a champion team beats a team of champions.

The scene below from the film Moneyball addresses this very point.  After his unfancied team goes on a record-breaking streak of 20 consecutive wins in the Major League Baseball. General Manager, Billy Beane acknowledges the achievement will (and later is) dismissed if they are unable to win the final game of the series.

If you have been in the dressing room of a side that has lost a final, you will know how much winning means. However, as a coach, it’s your responsibility to pick up the pieces and bring your players back on the journey again.

For this reason, it’s important to celebrate your team’s success and achievements along the way, without being solely obsessed with winning the final game. This message is exactly what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said to his players after their Game 7 loss.

“Just an incredible run that obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to. But I am so lucky to coach this incredible group of players who are so committed to each other, to the game, to the organization.

“It was really an amazing year. It’s been an incredible two-year run. We’re disappointed that it didn’t go our way at the end, but that’s life.

“You know, we’ve had so many moments of joy together, and it was like, wow, we’re actually having a moment of sorrow as a team. It’s a great reminder that, first of all, it’s not easy to win a championship. But, as I said, it’s life. Things happen. You move on”. –  Warriors Coach Steve Kerr




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