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Standing Above the Crowd Chapter Summaries and Excerps – Chapter 4: Mentoring – Someone Is Looking Up To You


If you take some time to look back over your life, you’ll recall numerous people who have been a positive influence on your life in one capacity or another. Anyone who has had that kind of effect on another is worthy to be called a “mentor.”

Being coached by Hall of Fame great Lenny Wilkens was one of the most fortunate things that could have happened to me upon starting my NBA career. He was definitely one of my biggest mentors.

I was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, the year of its NBA world championship. As I had taken a detour to Italy for a year, I didn’t join the Sonics until the 1980 season. The team was still in its prime then since it was manned with NBA championship-caliber players. My teammates were “Downtown” Freddie Brown, John “JJ” Johnson, Jack Sikma, Lonnie Shelton, and Gus Williams. That was a great team to break in with!

Coach Wilkens was a good mentor for me because he treated me like the young professional I was. He allowed me to mature into a bona fide NBA player, while at the same time having high expectations for me. That’s what great mentors do: They play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

One of Coach Wilkens’ strengths was his ability to delegate responsibility to other leaders on the team. He would oversee from the sidelines while my more experienced teammates, such as Fred Brown and John Johnson, would work on the basic fundamentals I needed to perfect if I were going to succeed as an NBA player. He expected us always to be professionals and to conduct ourselves as such. I was allowed to flourish under his coaching, while at the same time not have unrealistic expectations placed upon me.

Wilkens wasn’t a “jump in your face and cuss you out” kind of a coach or mentor, and I appreciated that. He was always very cool and seemingly unrattled by the rigors of an NBA season. That showed me early on that you have to keep a cool head about yourself while pushing yourself to be the very best you can be.


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James Donaldson’s – Standing Above the Crowd book is now available in ebook format! You’ll find it on Amazon (just tpye my name into the search bar)

Of course, to order your own personally autographed copy for only $19.95, please go to www.StandingAboveTheCrowd.com and James Donaldson will personally autograph your book to you.


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