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Ben's Babbles: Grasping the team concept

January 7, 2012

It's one of the oldest sports clichés around: There is no "I" in team.

Even the greatest players in the history sports knew this. One player just can't do it all. It's why LeBron James joined forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Babe Ruth had the rest of Murderer's Row with the New York Yankees, and even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and a competent supporting cast to help him win all those championships with the Chicago Bulls.

It doesn't matter if a team has one great individual player; championships are won by teams that at on any given day can have any number of players do what needs to be done to win.

If you don't believe me, look up the Miami Dolphins in Dan Marino's career. They never gave Marino a decent receiving group, much less a running back, and as a result the Dolphins went the entire career of one of the all-time greats without winning a Super Bowl.

Sometimes it takes awhile for players to recognize this. After the Shaq-Kobe years in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant felt Shaquille O'Neal got too much credit for the Lakers' title, and tried to win one virtually by himself. It didn't work. The Lakers eventually assembled a good supporting cast around Bryant, much like the Bulls did with Jordan, and the result was a pair of titles.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying if you want to win, assemble a team of players who know their sport is a team game.

We don't often think of wrestling as such. Two wrestlers get on the mat and go at it, one-on-one, just two athletes competing against each other for glory. But it's not just about the one-on-one matches; not at the high school or college levels.

Team points and trophies are at stake, and when the whole group is competing together, everyone wants to be a part of a winner.

In order for the team to get a win Thursday night, Andrew DeHart had to take a loss. DeHart was not directly told to go out and lose by his coaches. No wrestler wants to be told that. He was told to wrestle defensively. If he won, or lost by decision, to returning state placer Max Freund the Eagles would beat Cleveland. If he lost on a technical fall, major decision or a pin, the Eagles would lose.

DeHart naturally wanted the win, and was not happy about the loss, but the aggressive tactics needed to pull the upset could have led to Freund being able to turn the tables, get a pin and give the Eagles a team loss.

Instead, DeHart did his job and contained Freund to a 4-2 win - not an easy feat, either - giving the Eagles the victory.

Cleveland is the best wrestling team the PIL has to offer, and with the Eagles coming off a tough couple of weeks in tournament competition, they needed a win against a quality opponent.

Thanks to members of the team doing what needed to be done, they got one.

Ultimately, a whole team doing what needs to be done is what gets wins. Look at the Trail Blazers this season. On any given night they have a couple of players who are capable of scoring 30 points. That means that players' teammates need to give up their own stats to get them the ball.

And so far it's worked. As new point guard Raymond Felton put it last week: "We don't have Feltons on the front of our jerseys; it says Trail Blazers."

If everyone does their job, works together, and the onus of winning is not placed on person every day … well, that pretty much seems to be the definition of team.

It's good to see some local teams with the proper grasp of the concept.

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