34:54 – Who had the best attitude on the team?
39:17 – Who had the best and worst attitudes?
40:57 – Knowledge through the decades. Attitude lesson at birth. Here I am let’s see what happens next. Finding your place on this earth
42:07 – Attitude lesson at the age of 10. Self-acceptance.
44:04 – Attitude lesson at the age of 30. Learning how to be consistent to my approach to the game of basketball.
45:00 – Attitude lesson at the age of 40. Being mindful of the friends you have.
46:38 – Attitude lesson at the age of 50. Reinvention.
49:04 – Show Close
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Mark Eaton, NBA All-Star, Motivational Speaker, Author and Teamwork Expert
NBA All-Star, Motivational Speaker, Author and Teamwork Expert
We play five games in seven nights in five different cities. You can have a great attitude one day but then two days later, you are a couple of cities further into the road trip, has hesitancy to win and get more difficult. That’s when I really had to double down on the sports psychology and get in my head a little bit to get the best performance out of my body I could each give a night. That was the general attitude.
When you think about attitude, how would you define or describe it? Not maybe yours but just this whole concept of attitude or you can think about some of the people you played against. What does attitude mean to you?
Attitude to me means bringing the highest possible vibration to a situation. There are so many ways that you can look at your approach mentally to a job or performance. To get out of the lower-level vibrations of fear, concern, worry, and get into the higher vibrations of performance of seeing the bigger picture of giving your body every chance that has to compete at the highest level, that’s what I spent most of my time focused on.
I still do that in the business world now in terms of how I look at going on stage and speaking to 2,000 people, putting together a proposal, making a sales pitch or whatever it is. I always want the best for everybody around me. I want the best for me at the same time, creating a win-win attitude at the beginning of a conversation, and trying to keep it alive during the ups and downs of negotiation or whatever the case may be. We have had a lot of challenges with COVID that have affected all of our businesses. Trying to maintain that proper attitude has really been helpful.
You said a couple of key things there. You used to play in front of 20,000, 30,000, 60,000 people but now you go and walk up on a stage of 2,000. Is the dynamic of performance different? Are you more nervous being a speaker because you hadn’t spoken all your life as compared to this thing called basketball where you probably had spent 20 or 30 years doing that?
Speaking is different because when you get on stage, even different than being a television commentator where you can just talk about whatever you want, you get up there and people say, “Who are you? What are you going to tell me? What could you possibly know about my life?” Being able to bring an impactful message, has strong takeaways, and resonates with an audience makes me more nervous than going out and playing in front of 20,000 people. I really like it and I enjoy the challenge.
The pressure is on. I coached football for many years and play as well. I always say that speaking is the closest thing to game day that I can give anymore.
You get up there and you have a short time of 45 minutes, an hour, or an hour and a half to give it your best. You want people to walk away inspired and feel differently about themselves. It is a lot of pressure and stress. It can be exhausting at times. Afterward, you feel like you have run a marathon.
Why don’t we get into the book a little bit, which I’m sure parallels with when you keynote speak and when you coach the businesses and teams that you do, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team? Can we maybe run down those four? We can take it one at a time and dig into it a little bit. What’s commitment number one?
Commitment number one is about knowing your job and focusing on that one thing you are excellent at. In the book, I tell a story about being at UCLA, sitting on the end of the bench and not playing very much. During the summer, we would get together and play these pickup games or practice games, which in Los Angeles were NBA All-Star games. All the great players from the Lakers and anybody that grew up in LA, which is a basketball Mecca, showed up there. Magic Johnson was there every day and guys like that.Attitude brings the highest possible vibration to a situation. Click To Tweet
I was running up down the court trying to chase these much quicker, faster teams because, of course, as you go up in each level of college basketball, the players get faster, stronger and quicker. I just couldn’t figure out what to do. I was seen to be behind the play and out of the play all the time. I was pretty frustrated. I was standing over on the sideline one day, holding my shirts and feeling sorry for myself. I feel this big, large hand on my shoulder. I turn around and it’s Wilt Chamberlain.
He would come down from his house up above UCLA and still play basketball with us even after he retired. He was such an amazing athlete. He pulled me aside and said, “First of all, young fellow, you are never going to catch those smaller, quicker players. Secondly, why are you doing that? It’s not your job.” He took me out of the court and put me right in front of the basket.
He said, “Do you see this basket behind you? Your job is to stop players from getting there. Your job is to make them miss their shots, collect the rebound, throw it up to the guard, let them go down the other end, and score it. Your job is to cruise up to half-court to see what’s going on.” It was this amazing light bulb experience for me because all of a sudden, the whole game of basketball made sense. It took the mystery out of all these things I was trying to do.
I was trying to run faster, dribble better and shoot better. He was like, “No, stop all that. Just do this one thing.” I turned that one thing into a twelve-year NBA career playing defense and blocking shots. I call that knowing your job. What’s that one thing you are excellent at? What’s that character trait or skill that you have that you really need to double down on? That’s the place to start. It’s the foundation of a winning team.
I guess that you probably weren’t having a lot of fun before you found your one thing?
No, it wasn’t. It was a lot of work and it just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Once he showed me, the whole game became much clearer. I could see it from a new level. I understood how my contribution would make a difference out there on the court if I focus on the one thing that I was great at.
When you think about your one thing, which is blocking shots, getting rebounds, defending that rim, and all defensive in basketball, talk to me about the offensive end. What was your mindset there? Was there one thing that you focused on most on the offensive end?
On the offensive end, I wasn’t obviously the priority on offense because I played with great players like Adrian Dantley, Karl Malone and John Stockton. Those guys did the brunt of the scoring. They really didn’t need me to do that, so I just tried to focus on where I could find an opportunity to score. I try to find little seams and places where the defense would forget about me because I wasn’t the big threat offensively.
I would make eye contact with John Stockton, and just go to the rim and get an easy lob pass. When the defensive forgot about me, they are going to get offensive rebounds. I had some moves, too. I had a pretty good hook shot and turn-around bank shots, things like that, that I focused on. My primary job on the team was to play defense. I knew that and that’s what kept me in the league for twelve years protecting my teammates, which we’ll talk about in the fourth commitment.
You mentioned some pretty cool players. Adrian Dantley, if I remember, is a Notre Dame guy, correct?
I’m from Indiana. We think that we have basketball in Indiana. How was AD as he scored? Would you say he was better than all the other guys that you matter out of those four? Who do you think was the best scorer?
Adrian Dantley was a very focused, committed player. He took great care of his body, ready to play every single day, and singularly focused on scoring. I actually got along with him pretty well. He could be challenging sometimes as a teammate but he gave three points every day. You could count on it as consistency. That was a big part of the beginning of our team in the early ‘80s of the Jazz when we weren’t very good. He was our star guy. It helped us set the foundation for what was going to come next when Karl Malone and John Stockton showed up.
He obviously thought his job was to score and shoot at will whenever he wished.
He had made a good living doing that. You couldn’t fault him for that. Going forward, as our team evolved, it was apparent that we needed players who shared the ball better and a more integrated offense and included more people. Eventually, as Karl Malone came into his own, they traded AD to Detroit for Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson, another Indiana guy, and the team evolved. It’s unfortunate when guys have to move on like that but it’s part of the game and it’s part of the evolution of sports as well as it is in business.
Kelly Tripucka is another Notre Damer. Let’s go on to commitment number two.
Commitment number two is about doing what you have been asked to do. Your job in the business is not to do what you think is best but to do what you have been asked and be really clear about what other people want from you. My background is that I was 21 years old and I was an auto mechanic working in Southern California. A junior college coach came along and he convinced me to get basketball another try.
Fast forward a few years, after I went back, I was at UCLA and wasn’t playing, my junior college coach told me, “We’ve got into this arrangement to try and play basketball again with the intent of going to the NBA or playing in Europe and playing professionally somewhere. You can’t get so caught up in what is happening now. If you are not going to play in the games at UCLA, you are going to have to make the practices your games. You have to be the first guy to practice and last to leave. Continue to do your shooting, your running, and hit the weight room. At some point in time, you will have an opportunity to try out at the next level.”
Things weren’t going very well for me at that time. The things I could control were what he asked me to do. I was in the gym, the first guy and the last guy to leave. I did my running and do my shooting. Later on, I did have an opportunity to try out for an NBA team because I did those things. In business, we forget that sometimes. We think we have the best product or we are out there selling the best thing. We forget to ask our customers or even our boss like, “Are there other things I should be doing? Is there anything else I should be more focused on? On a scale of 1 to 10, how well am I executing those requests?” That’s a good place to look at. That’s called doing what you have been asked to do.
Let’s just dig down that rabbit hole. Being an auto mechanic with hands that big must be hard.
The hands were one part of the problem. Being 7’4” was the other big problem. It didn’t work too well for getting underneath the rack and getting in and out of small cars. Coming out of high school, I didn’t have a lot of options. I wasn’t very good in high school and I gave up sports. I had grown up in a rather mechanical family. My father was a Marine Diesel Mechanic so I grew up working on boats.
I had to go to trade school for you to learn to be an auto mechanic because I just didn’t have any other options. That’s what I did after high school. I spent two years working in this tire store in Southern California doing brake jobs, tune-ups, front-end alignments, etc. This junior college coach cruised around the corner one day, saw me there, came in and said, “What the heck are you doing working here? Why aren’t you playing basketball?”
Who was that junior college coach?
His name was Tom Lubin and he was a Chemistry professor at this place called Cypress College, which was in Cypress, California, near Buena Park. It’s maybe about fifteen minutes from Disneyland. He had worked with another guy by the name of Swen Nater. Tom’s great uncle was a guy named Frank Lubin who was a Lithuanian player who was one of the first “big men” in the US. He had taught Tom some basic low post moves that you could do at the basketball without much dribbling. He taught those to Swen who went on to play at UCLA behind Bill Walton, then went on to a great ABA and NBA career.
He had this specific knowledge of how to play basketball as a big man that I had never heard of or seen of. When he showed it to me, it was mind-blowing. I was like, “I didn’t know this part of basketball existed because, in high school, everybody is just taught how to play basketball the same way. There was no real specificity to individual players in the game.” When he showed me how a big guy could play basketball, I was like, “That’s interesting.”If you’ll stop competing with each other and start cooperating, the individual accolades will follow. Click To Tweet
I agreed to start working out with him after work a few days, which turned into four months, which turned into me from junior college. He had that understanding of a big guy basketball and probably more importantly was his commitment to me. When we started, he said, “If you are willing to do this, I will be here for you every morning and every afternoon to help you. I don’t want anything from you. I’m just going to show you how to do it because that’s what I like to do. I coach.” He would meet me at 6:00 in the morning. We would run for an hour before I went to work. After work, we would spend two more hours in the gym doing hook shots, bank shots, running drills, agility drills, weight room stuff, and showing me how to be an athlete. That’s how it started.
Did Tom know you? Did he just see you in the garage?
He came around the corner and it was a very busy intersection where I worked at. I was at the corner talking to a customer that was much shorter than me. He saw this 7-foot tall guy standing there. Being a basketball coach, he’s like, “Who is that guy?” He pulled in, started giving me the once over about basketball, and get in my face a little bit about it. He’s like, “There is a Chemistry Science professor who is on a little hyperactive side.” I was like, “Back up. Slow down.” He was so excited to tell me all these things he knew about basketball. It took him a while to convince me to try it but once I did, I said, “I will give this a whirl and see where it goes.”
My guess is you guys probably ended up pretty close.
We remained friends for over 40 years. He passed away in 2020.
I’m sorry to hear that. That’s a pretty darn cool story. I have some experience with this. By working in a garage, there’s always a boss that’s riding you or a coworker that’s always making you cut up. I just want to know, was there a personality when you were working at those garages that you remember? If not, that’s fine. Was there an attitude lesson when you were spending those two years in the garage that you could tell our people to help them bridge the gap from who they are to who they want to become if you can put yourself back there?
I was twenty-year-old. I thought I knew a lot about life. The humbling part of the job was that it was a straight commission. I had to sell all my own works. When you brought the car in, I had to figure out what was wrong with the car, determine what parts were needed, how much labor is going to be, and then call the customer on the phone and sell the job.
The manager was always on us about sell like, “See if they need some shock absorbers and see what else they needed besides a brake job. How about a lifetime alignment policy?” That used to frustrate me sometimes but the good part about it was the more work I sold and the more work I did, the more money I made, and I liked that part.
The attitude part just came naturally with that. Once I started playing basketball, I probably took a step back in attitude because it was frustrating hard work. When you are 7’ tall, everybody is looking at you. My first year in junior college was challenging because out of the blue, here’s a 7’4” auto mechanic who’s now playing basketball. You are in LA, which is a pretty big market. All of a sudden, I started getting attention from the press, from the newspaper reporters, local TV stations, and things like that. That was difficult because there were a lot of naysayers. I thought I couldn’t do it. That provided some motivation but it challenged my attitude.
Let’s go to number 3 of the 4 commitments. What would that be?
Number three is Make People Look Good. When I first came to the Utah Jazz in 1982, they were a bad team in a bad market, on the verge of going out of business. It averaged about 5,000 fans a night. The NBA was in a difficult shape overall. Our coach, Frank Layden, who’s a great man from New York coached at Niagara and had been in the Army. He had this blue-collar attitude about everything.
He said, “If you guys will stop competing with each other so much and start cooperating with each other, the individual accolades would follow. When you are playing on a bad team, all people really care about is how many minutes do I play? How many shots am I going to get up? What’s my scoring average. How can I negotiate a good, new contract based on my scoring average? If you guys will start playing together, start cooperating a little more and the individual accolades show up, the rest will take care of itself.”
We had to learn to start trusting each other, passing the ball a little bit more, and helping our teammates score. As we started winning, the rest came with it. The notoriety, the accolades came with it, then all of a sudden, we were viewed as better players simply because of the fact we were on a winning team as opposed to a losing team.
I asked the question on my presentation, “How focused are you making the people you work with look good on a scale of 1 to 10? Is there one thing you could do to improve that score next week?” Somebody you need to buy a cup of coffee for us and somebody needs to check in with. We just need to give you a call. That’s called making people look good.
Frank Layden is definitely a well-thought-of-coach. You said he was blue-collar, where he is hard, grit. Are there any other lessons that he taught you? I know that Jerry Sloan came in. I would love to hear his attitude. I have a feeling they were probably similar. Was he an assistant with Layden on that team?
He was. He later became the Head Coach. Frank was a guy who kept it real. He would tell us, “When was the last time you called your high school coach? Did you send your mother something for Mother’s Day?” He kept everything in perspective in the rather surrealistic world of the NBA and professional sports. He connected us and created a family culture from this disparate group of players who were cast-offs from other teams or players like myself that didn’t have a lot of experience.
Jerry Sloan came in and took that nucleus of what Frank had put together and said, “Now I’m going to challenge it a little more. We are going to make it go a little higher. I’m going to focus on you guys a little bit more and demand more from you on a daily basis in terms of your preparation, focus, and attention to the details of the game. “
That helped propel the team to greater heights by doing that. The great thing about Jerry Sloan is he’s very consistent. He was the same way day in and day out. You could count on him. Frank was a little more of an emotional coach. A little bit more ups and downs emotionally, and Jerry was just flat consistent. He knew exactly what he was expected of you day in and day out. I always appreciated that. That’s so important for business as well because players and business people, workers, and employees want to know how do I win?
What is it going to take? A lot of times, as leaders, we don’t give them that clarity. We are like, “Things are moving and changing. We are reorganizing, and then we have been bought by another company,” whatever it is. Your job as a boss, leader or coach is to really give that clear direction so that everybody knows where they stand and what’s expected out of them. That’s what Jerry Sloan did for us.
Probably one of the best leadership messages that the GAP’s heard is being very clear on how I win. Sometimes leaders don’t know what they should be telling their subordinates or their employees on what it means to win.
It definitely starts at the top and trickles down. Regardless of that, if you are running a division or a small sales team, you have come up with something because the team is counting on you for that clarity.
What was the greatest season you ever had? My guess is it would coincide with the greatest season that Utah Jazz ever had? Do you remember that season and anything about that season?
I had a lot of great seasons. Early on, when we were that poor team in a bad market. Over the next couple of succeeding seasons after that, we’ve got ourselves together and we started winning. We started believing in each other and it was ‘85. It was our second year making the Playoffs. We won the division the year before, and I broke the NBA record for the Most Block Shots in a single season, which still stands now. To me, that was a big deal. About four years after that, I made the All-Star team. I was voted in by the coaches, which meant more to me actually than being voted in by the fans because when your peers appreciate and respect you, that’s a big deal.
I remember the first time I felt like I had made it was my rookie season. We were playing the Dallas Mavericks, which had just been in existence for a couple of years at that time. I wasn’t starting yet. Frank Layden put me in the game in the second quarter and I blocked 6 shots in 5 minutes. I remember turning and running up the court after one of those block shots and looking over to the coaches. They were all looking at each other and thought I can do this job.If the team wins, you win. Click To Tweet
Back in 1986, I would have been a senior in high school playing varsity basketball as a 6’3” center. My number was 53. I always used to tell people I was Mark Eaton. That’s why it’s so cool to be able to interview you. We have gone through with the third one, which is to make everybody look good. Number four to finish it off on the four commitments.
Number four is Protecting Others. What I did on the basketball court was to protect my teammates. They knew that if they went out to try and steal the ball out on the wing that I would get between their man and the basket if they missed. My teammates knew they could count on me. They knew that I had their back and that’s why I call it protecting others. It’s the key to trust and loyalty as really letting people know that you are there for them.
It goes beyond just the workplace. It doesn’t mean you have to go have dinner with all your employees or anything like that. It does mean that while they are at work, you care and you are concerned about them. You are there for them. They know they can come and talk to you. It’s the open-door policy. You can still expect them to do their jobs but they want to know that you care. If you look at all these statistics and studies about employee satisfaction, salary always comes in about number three. It’s always about, “I want to know that I make a difference. I want to know that people here care about me.”
As a coach, that’s important for you. As a basketball player, that’s what I did well on the court and still do in the world of business now. Whoever is in the audience, whoever I’m speaking for or I’m working for, I just want you to know I’m here for you and I will do whatever I can to help you be successful. That’s all that anybody asks when it comes to going to work.
I know in your keynote speaking business, you have quite a big following and a lot of presentations when it comes to safety, and safety is a huge platform for keynote speakers. I’m guessing commitment number four comes in there. Talk to us a little bit about that whole world of safety and some of the messages that you share for that marketplace.
That was an interesting avenue that just showed up out of my speaking. I spoke to one utility company in Kansas that a friend of mine recommended me to pour and it became a thing. They are making people look good and protect each other’s backs are a key component of safety and different than all the rules and regulations of what you need to do to stay safe at work.
It turned into this core part of my business and I have been in power generation plants, oil refineries, and everything else in the world with safety I have done 200 or so safety presentations around the country. They liked the message because it’s simple and it’s easy to implement and you can’t find any conflict. I don’t believe in the world of safety. It doesn’t go back to 1 of those 4 commitments of knowing your job, doing what you have been asked to do, making people look good or protecting your teammates. It resonates well and it has been fun because I’ve got to meet some really interesting people.
I have been in some very interesting situations, see how our country works and operates at the core level when it comes to the industrial side, the oil and gas side or the utility side. It wasn’t something I started out doing but as I started speaking, doing more and more, it was something that just opened up and I said, “This is really cool.”
I had a mechanical background. I’m always like, “How did things work? Let me check this out a little further? Can you show me around a little bit more?” I don’t think most speakers do that but I’m like, “Show me that. You guys do what? How does that work?” It’s just fascinating. One time, I spoke for the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association. These are the guys that move hotels down the street or remove the head of your nuclear reactor. I have had an opportunity to learn about all kinds of fascinating industries that way.
I have a lot of friends that are in the speaking business. I represent people in the speaking. The University of Attitude has a Speakers Bureau and we are always looking for a safety speaker. I may email you later after this and see if I can help get you booked. We had mentioned teammates and protecting your teammates. If it’s okay, I would love to get the attitude lesson from some of the teammates that you had.
I’m not looking for anything negative but when you think of the teammates you have had some Hall of Famers and I would love to just get a little glimpse. We had Dujuan Daniels from the New England Patriots talk about us and we did the same thing, and it was shocking. People think they know you guys. They think they actually know famous people or pro athletes but only the people in the locker room do. If it’s okay, I would love to ask about Karl Malone’s attitude? What’s the lesson you learned from him?
Karl Malone came in the NBA with a lot of energy out of Louisiana Tech. He was trying to do everything out of the court. Adrian Dantley actually had a big impact on him by saying, “You need to take better care of your body. This is a long-term season and you can’t be running into the stance and doing all this crazy stuff all the time. You are not going to last very long.” He helps him really focus on his scoring.
Over the next couple of years, Karl spent a large amount of time in the weight room. He got himself stronger and quicker. Playing low post down there next to the basket, they are not going to call the fouls on you. He got fouled every time he went to the basket and he actually had to learn how to go through people to get to the basket because that was the only way he was going to score. He knew he wasn’t going to get all the calls.
He took this Superman attitude about it, “I’m going to be ready to play every single night.” John Stockton helped him a lot with that too because he came to play every single night. If you want to look at something remarkable, go back and look at those two guy’s careers and how many games they missed due to injury. You’ll find it’s a rather negligible number out of the 18 and 19 years those guys played, respectively.
What happened is that, for us, the coach can come in and say, “You guys need to be in better shape and you need to be ready to play, and all these things.” They would tell us over and over again. When those guys embodied that philosophy and came to training camp in better shape than anybody else and outran everybody in the drills, the other guys on the team got the message. They’ve got themselves in better shape. Not because the coaches were saying it but because it was expected of them from their teammates.
I always found that interesting that the coach actually had to do less in terms of harping on people about conditioning. The players did it themselves just simply by the fact that, “John and Karl are out there. They didn’t take the games off when they’ve got hurt. They just tape it up and say, ‘Let’s go.’” The finger is going sideways and everyone else. You come limping in the locker room and John Stockton was looking at you, “You will be out there tonight?” He said, “Yes, John, I will be.”
No-load management back then.
If you want to get Karl Malone going, just bring up that subject.
I know Bo Schembechler always used to say that to his captains like, “Leadership is just an extension of the head coach.” That phenomenon that you talked about exemplifies that. Excluding those two, when you think of the attitude of somebody you played with, no matter what the level is, who had the best attitude? Do you think that was your teammate excluding those two in your long career?
One of the hardest jobs in the NBA is to be the sixth man. In my book, I interviewed a couple of guys that I played with like Thurl Bailey and Tyrone Corbin later in my career. Thurl had come from NC State. Jimmy Valvano had been on the National Championship team. When he came to the Jazz, they asked him to be the sixth man to provide that spark off the bench.
That’s a real challenging thing for players because we all want to star and we all want to play all the minutes. To accept that role and understand what it was about, Thurl will tell you, “Give me an opportunity to watch the flow of the game and watch the players that I was going to be guarding. Give me a little bit of an upper hand when I went out there. I knew exactly what I needed to do,” and he embraced that.
That was his attitude about it. He didn’t get frustrated. A lot of guys couldn’t do it. For instance, we had a guy in our team, Rickey Green, who was a great point guard prior to John Stockton. In fact, he played with John and he was great as a starter. When he became a backup guy, he struggled attitude-wise with taking less than role. It hurt our team in the long-term because had he been able to stick around, we would have been a better team. We struggled to find a backup point guard after he left.
It’s just different aspects to how people approach their game. Again, if the team wins, you win. It was always fascinating to me to watch how much greater our value was as a team and especially in the eyes of the press, other people, and other players when we were winning versus when we were losing. We are the same guys doing the same jobs but all of a sudden, this week is like, “You guys are awesome.” The next week is like, “Ugh.”
You can see that in the NFL. Our Indianapolis Colts win 3 and drop 1. Cleveland played out of their minds. I coach football for 25 years and I’m like, “Cleveland made five plays that you can’t make.” Now everybody is ready to get rid of Philip Rivers. People are ready to jump off a cliff.
Go where? I was watching the NBA Finals with the Heat and Lakers and one of the commentators, Stan Van Gundy or Jeff Van Gundy, was talking about how Erik Spoelstra, the coach of the Heat, had been there for so long with the organization for twenty plus years. Jerry Sloan spent 23 years as a Head Coach of the Jazz. The ownership stood behind him because the easiest guy to change is the coach.Knowing your job is the foundation of a winning team. Click To Tweet
It’s easy to fire the coach and go find somebody else. A little harder to get rid of players but it can happen. Sometimes the fans don’t always understand that. That consistency of culture is so important in basketball and getting guys to play together takes time. If you have a belief in the Head Coach that he can teach that culture, the great teams and organizations stick with those guys for a long period because they know the players have to come around. It’s not necessarily the coach who has to redefine what they are doing.
Even in Utah, they can’t able to keep the same coach and the same system for so long.
It’s one of the more respected franchises because of that.
No question about it. Was he the Rookie in 2021 or a second-year player? Their guard lights out unbelievable.
Donovan Mitchell from Louisville. He just come into his own. He’s an exciting player. He’s a fun player to watch. He makes things happen that sometimes you have to blink your eyes and say, “Did I really see that?” The fans here in Utah love him.
We will wrap it up with our knowledge through the decades. I have let you get onto your way but you saw a lot of characters come through the NBA in many years and I’m sure you know the MJs and all that. I would love to know as an opponent, who did you say, “That guy has the best freaking attitude when he hits the court.” Maybe besides the obvious, that may surprise us or the obvious is fine but I would also like to know who had the worst attitude that you played against with.
The best attitude I thought, especially early in my career was Dr. J. He was the statesman of the NBA at a time when the NBA didn’t have the best brand so to speak. He could dunk on you during the game, which he did on me frequently. That’s the challenge of being a shot blocker. A lot of times you missed. Afterward, he would say, “Big fellow, let’s go have a beer.”
I thought that it was so cool that he would do that too for young players. He was always concerned, even to this day, I will see him at an event here or there, and he will always say, “How’s it going, big fellow?” I always appreciated that attitude because to him, it was bigger than just the game of basketball. The worst attitude probably, I guess, you would have to go at Dennis Rodman on that one. I hated playing against him. Dirty player. You would rather punch him than look at him. I’ve never got along with that guy. I didn’t appreciate his style of basketball and I would tell him so now.
He was a worm, wasn’t he?
I still have insulting feelings about it.
That’s so fun, Mark. Thanks for entertaining us with that. We close every show with this thing called Knowledge Through The Decades. Do you have children, Mark?
I do. Yes.
What we do is we ask what the attitude lesson was as you have progressed through your life. Now, sometimes people don’t remember being born. I want you to think about maybe your children when they were born. Have you hit 60 yet?
We can go up to 60 then. It’s a rapid-fire. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We like our GAPers to go through the life of these unbelievable, extraordinary people that we get to interview. When you think about birth and childbirth, what do you think the attitude lesson of birth is?
“Here I am. Let’s see what happens next,” is the best one for childbirth, and going next was figuring out what life was about and your place in it, which is something we all do throughout the course of our lives.
Let me jump in then. I want you to think back and tell us about when you were ten years old, 3rd or 4th grade. Number one, we are dying to know how tall you were at ten. What was the attitude lesson that you learned in 3rd or 4th grade if you can remember?
In 3rd or 4th grade, I was still having fun. I was tall but I don’t think it was a big deal in my life. Probably until I was about twelve years old when I really felt I stood out and I was different than everybody else. The first time I remember noticing that I was different than everyone else was stressful. Throughout my teenage years was stressful being taller and made fun of. I felt a little outside of the in-group.
That was the first time it really started affecting my attitude. My father is 6’9”. Once I’ve got taller than him, he noticed a change in my attitude. I was a little shorter with people. I became a little more withdrawn and I struggled with that because I didn’t seem to have a place for my height. As a mechanic, it was okay. I was doing it because it was a job but it wasn’t a fit for me. Basketball gave me that experience of feeling like I was where I was supposed to be at the time. My attitude improved somewhat with having the basketball in my life.
A little less personal pressure and a little more self-acceptance of yourself and that type of thing.
The bigger part is probably not the best thing to say but I felt like other people accepted me more because I was playing basketball, which is absolute silliness. I felt more comfortable because people didn’t leave me alone. They would say, “Do you play basketball?” I go, “I do.” I was at the junior college or whatever it is.
Let’s go to 30 years old. We’ve got through ten, maybe a little bit of bullying and not feeling accepted. At twenty, you become a little more accepted. You started to fit. I’m guessing 30 is when you are right in the middle of your NBA career. If you remember being 30, what was the attitude lesson from that year for you?
The attitude lesson then was about learning how to be consistent with my approach to the game. I have relationships with my teammates that were valuable to me. We were a pretty tight-knit unit. I had friends outside of basketball, a small group of them but I wasn’t too sure what to do with the public and the fan thing and all that. That was challenging for me of how to put that in context, which I figured out later in life.
That takes us to 40. I don’t know if you remember your 40th birthday. I’m sure you remember being 40 because it was just short years ago. You are probably on the other side of your NBA career. What’s the attitude lesson at 40?
The attitude lesson at 40 was being mindful of what great friends I have. I know I went to Napa Valley with a group of friends for my 40th birthday that was a lot of fun. By that time, I had been in the restaurant business for a couple of years. I was back into the customer service space and that whole thing. I opened up a little bit more at that time. In terms of my acceptance of the people around me and understanding my place in society, for lack of a better term. That’s what I gained at that age.
What restaurant did you own?
Tuscany is Italian, right?
Northern Italian, rustic style menu. It’s a big Italian villa. We have a big outdoor patio. We do a lot of corporate events or weddings as well. Franck’s is a little smaller bistro style. It’s more focused on presentation and style. That’s a small restaurant that we also have on our property.
Now we are up to 50 years. I’m sure you remember your 50th birthday. Now you are removed. I don’t know when you wrote your book, but you probably started speaking in the books probably in your mind around 50. What’s your attitude lesson when you hit that big 50?
When I was 50, I just started thinking about my public speaking career. It was still an idea in my mind, but I was struggling with what to do next. I was doing some broadcasting for the Jazz at that time and that was interesting but wasn’t really scratching the edge. That’s when I was considering what to do next and reinventing myself, post-50.
Re-invention, huge attitude, especially for all of us GAPers who are 50. Now, in the 60s. What is your attitude lesson from 60? What is your hope? What is your message to our readers, our GAPers, that are standing there at the beginning of a bridge? It sounds like you have had many. You have stood at the beginning of the bridge and you’ve bridged the gap from who you are to who you want to become from where you are to where you wanted to go at many different parts of your life. What would you like to share with our readers about your age 60 attitude lesson and then your hope for them?
The attitude and the message I give to the people is that we are all more connected than we realize. You really have a choice every day about what vibration you bring to your workplace and your relationships. It starts with being kind to everyone. We need that message more now than ever. We live in a very divisive time and what we need is more love and kindness in the world. It starts with you. That would be my message.
Mark Eaton, Thank you. You have given us some great attitude lessons and some insights. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share your memories with us. I know that myself and all the GAPers appreciate your time and insights. If you are a corporate planner and CEO, we know many of you reading are, Mark’s one sheet in his testimonials are off the chart good. If you’ve got a good take for his book, please look him up at 7Ft4.com to hire him to come and speak. Mark, It’s so grateful. Thank you so much for being on the show.
It’s my pleasure. I’m glad to do it.
- The Four Commitments of a Winning Team
- Specialized Carriers And Rigging Association
- University of Attitude
- Dujuan Daniels – Past Episode
About Mark Eaton
Mark Eaton is a 7’4” NBA All-Star and team-building expert who teaches organizations how to employ the principles and coaching techniques he mastered in his twelve year basketball career. The Four Commitments of a Winning Team enables CEOs, industry leaders, teams and individuals to outsmart, outlast and outperform their competition and achieve record breaking success.
Mark shares his incredible journey of how he went from 21-year-old auto mechanic with no future in basketball to a record-breaking NBA All-Star! CEOs. meeting planners and clients alike have touted Mark as the “best speaker they have ever had” and appreciate the fact his message has immediate impact and actionable takeaways. Mark’s message is ideal for those looking to strengthen and motivate their team, increase commitment between co-workers, and create an environment of safety and trust.