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Failure can be a good motivator and teacher for the Boston Celtics

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

The Boston Celtics stink right now. There are no silver linings. No excuses. No easy solutions. We’re 20 games into the season (just under a quarter of the way through) and the team is at .500 which puts them in 7th place in the East. If we were further into the season, we’d be looking at how close the Celtics are to falling out of the playoffs.

To say that this team has been frustrating would be a major understatement. I think it has something to do with the increased expectations but it also has to do with hustle. One thing that this town values very highly is effort. 50-50 balls that would normally bounce our way in the past are going to the other team.

I don’t know if they read too many headlines or spent too much time with Hall of Famers this offseason, but somewhere along the way this team forgot what got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. They seem to have assumed that walking onto the court with a great resume would be enough to win most games. If that is the case, they are currently being instructed in the error of their thinking.

Everyone deals with failure (and success) in their own way. In general terms, however, short term failures can be good or bad in the long run. If you start to believe that you are a failure, then it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. However, if you take that failure and learn from it and use it for motivation, it can be a very valuable tool.

This squad knows it can succeed on the highest levels. Most of the rotation is back from last year’s playoff run and the two main guys that missed it are Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Irving hit a Championship winning shot and Hayward missed winning a college championship by inches. So they know that they can and should be winners.

All the pieces are there and it is taking longer than anyone expected to put them together. It seems, from the outside, that part of the problem is lack of hustle and buying into the team. There’s not really any drills you can run that will motivate a team to buy in and sell out for the greater good.

What Brad Stevens can do is show them their failures and point out exactly why these breakdowns are leading to losses. Stevens himself is not above reproach in this are either. He’s learning tough lessons as the season rolls on.

I don’t know what the ultimate solution is for this team, or if there really is one. Perhaps they need a trade to shake things up and define roles better. Perhaps they need to limit the rotation and risk injuring someone’s ego. Perhaps they need to tweak their strategies and focus on some things that are working before expanding beyond that.

Or maybe they just need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves what they are going to do with these failures. Will they let it define them as a team or will it serve as motivation to give maximum effort on every play? We’ll find out soon enough.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

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