Every Team Needs A "Go To" Player

One of the things that basketball has taught me is that the best teams at all levels and in all walks of life have a “Go-To” player, a person who is not only capable but willing to step up and make the big play when the game is on the line. Regardless of their fame or team or status or gender, “Go-To” players all have one thing in common – they find a way to get it done!

Countries, businesses, families, etc. all need “Go-To” players at one time or another and being a “Go-To” player is as much about attitude as talent.

One of the best stories I’ve ever heard or read about a “Go-To” player centered on a soldier named Rowan in the Spanish –American war. Here is an excerpt from that story, “A Message to Garcia,” written by Elbert Hubbard almost 100 years ago.

“In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba—no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly. What to do!
Someone said to the President, "There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, & in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- "Carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.”
(In our world, “Garcia” can be individual workouts, summer conditioning, weight training, and even homework and/or class projects.)

Hubbard goes on to write, “Put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office—six clerks are within call. Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio". Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task? On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he? Which encyclopedia? Where is the encyclopedia? Was I hired for that? Don’t you mean Bismarck? What’s the matter with Charlie doing it? Is he dead? Is there any hurry? Should I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself? What do you want to know for?
And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia.”

Does this sound familiar? Do you know anyone like that? Are you like that?

Years ago the Boston Celtics called a timeout when they were behind with only seconds left and needed to score to win. With everyone gathered around the bench, Larry Bird boldly demanded that when the game resumed they give him the ball and “Get the hell out of the way!” KC Jones stepped in and reminded everyone that he, not Larry Bird, was the coach, and that he would design the final play. With the whole team intently staring at him, KC Jones smartly said, “Danny, you take the ball out and throw it to Larry and then everyone get the hell out of the way!” The strategy worked and the Celtics won. Larry Bird could take a message to Garcia!
Can we?

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