When the Phoenix Suns had an unexpected team meeting with Managing Partner Robert Sarver yesterday it went in a direction you might not expect from a group of professional athletes and their CEO owner.
The team gathered in a circled on the practice floor, sat down, and Sarver had each player turn to the player to his left and say something nice about him. This per one Suns player who participated.
And while it might seem a bit unusual to pull a team building exercise out of a management book (or maybe from an episode of The Office), it really doesn't compare to Sarver's approach two years ago.
In 2008 with the team mired in a dismal stretch under doomed coach Terry Porter, he gathered his troops in the locker room and had them work on collages together. With scissors and paste and construction paper. That didn't turn out so well as the team went on to trade Boris Diaw and Raja Bell and then eventually fired Porter and missed the playoffs.
We'll see if yesterday's experiment in positive reinforcement pays off. And before you start snickering over the methodology for building chemistry, some of the players at least didn't seem to mind.
"I think it gave me more confidence, more freedom. Like mentally more freedom," Marcin Gortat said about the meeting.
He said it's one thing to read nice things about yourself in the media, but to hear it from your teammates and the General Manager and coach is a different story. "I believe the players will bring it today," Marcin said when asked if the meeting had an impact on the team.
Those exercises are in those books for a reason, even if they seem a bit goofy to the rest of us.