Doc Rivers’ “Ubuntu” mantra helped lead the Boston Celtics to its first NBA Eastern Conference championship in 20 years.
So said one ESPN commentator, citing the Beantown coach’s use of the African term as a way to drive the team’s “collective success.” The sportscaster said it following the Celts win over the Detroit Pistons Friday night to clinch a spot in the NBA finals against the LA Lakers.
Naturally, my head leapt from my laptop to TV screen upon hearing the word uttered on a sports network. (I was reading Boston.com's account of the title after the trophy ceremony).
The Celts wound up in last place last year and needed a “community” mantra for the 2007-2008 season to meld together old timers like Capt. Paul Pierce with hot scoring newcomers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, coach Rivers, shown to the right, reportedly told ESPN.
Ubuntu, it appears, worked very well. The team's one year turnaround is the best in NBA history.
Rivers' “collective success” is a valid application of the word, also used by software company Canonical to describe its fast growing open source Linux operating system.
According to South African freedom leader Nelson Mandela, Ubuntu is not a single thing but a broad concept involving characteristics such as unselfishness and caring that “enable the community around you.”
Seems to be working as well for Canonical and its open source project, an underdog distribution that is rapidly gaining steam against its rivals in the Linux market.
No, I don't know if the Boston Celtics organization uses Ubuntu in its backoffice. And it's too late in the evening to find out.
The Celts now move on to face off against its storied rival on June 5. I’d be curious to know the mantra of LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson and that of team superstar Kobe Bryant ...