The best teammates are capable of doing their job while also having a genuine curiosity and concern for those around them. It isn’t that easy to do. Many of us need to be focused on one thing, just the task at hand, to do it well. It’s one of the reasons why communication on the court is more challenging than it should be – because it’s hard. It’s hard for a lot of people to do what they are supposed to do, especially in an intense environment, while also thinking about others.

Great teammates have that ability. They can invest fully in their own performance and invest in their teammates at the same time. The best teammate I have ever coached played for me my first two years at Rhode Island College. His name is Tony Pierlioni, and he was a 6-9 center for me who started on our elite 8 team in 2007, his senior year.

Tony showed up every day genuinely concerned about the team first. It was just in his nature. He wanted to make sure the team was alright before thinking about himself. Tony’s best friend on the team was John Weir, another 6-9 center who came to RIC in the same class. John was also a terrific teammate. Tony and John never played together. They played the same position, so pretty much when one of them was playing, the other wasn’t. When one of them played well, the other hardly played. Originally John was our starting center, but I made the change to Tony early in the year. I never had to think twice about one of them getting selfish about playing time. One of my best memories at RIC is seeing John Weir catch a dunk in a game, and Tony exploding off the bench to cheer for him

The best teammates are genuinely curious and concerned about those around them. They put the team (and their teammates) ahead of themselves. They just don’t naturally think about themselves first, probably an uncommon trait. But they also have the ability to do their own job, handle what is coming to them, while still thinking about the rest of the team. That is what makes the best teammates really special. It’s never about them, it’s always about the team. But they can do their job to help the team without focusing inward.

Do you have the ability to do your job effectively while also being curious and concerned with those around you? It’s not the easy. But if you can do it, you can be a great teammate.

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