How Duke Basketball Taught Us Lessons in Business

Duke Master of Management Studies students at Fuqua get ready for their Duke Basketball Experience
My classmates and I getting ready to head to the basketball facilities

It’s not every day you get to experience Duke basketball firsthand, and especially behind the scenes. And it’s certainly not every day you get to experience this with your friends and fellow classmates. But as MMS students, Fuqua ensures each and every one of us has the opportunity to learn and grow from the lessons Coach Mike Krzyzewski teaches on the court.

The Experience Begins

Upon waking up at 7:00 a.m. for an early breakfast at the Fox Center, I was not entirely prepared for how much energy my fellow classmates and the Fuqua staff and faculty would be able to display at such an early hour! But as more students poured in, the sense of cohesion among all of us became increasingly apparent. All sporting black and blue Team Fuqua jerseys that we were given and taking photos with our surprise guest, the Duke Blue Devil himself, we could all feel the excitement that would embrace us throughout the day.

Learning from Coach K and the National Champions

After breakfast, we migrated to the Duke Basketball Museum and Sports Hall of Fame, where we were introduced to the team’s assistant coaches and film staff. We watched film from the previous year’s NCAA National Championship winning team, while more deeply exploring Coach K’s winning philosophy and the elements that made this team victorious.

Even from analyzing only a few minutes of the national title game, we could all see how the team stepped up and tackled the challenges that faced them at critical moments late in the game. More importantly, the staff demonstrated how the contributions of one team member, freshman sensation Grayson Allen, sparked an entire squad to regain the energy and passion required to win the game when they seemed to be losing steam.

Lessons on the Court

From there, everyone was brought to the team’s practice courts, where we were guided through traditional basketball drills with assistant coaches, current team captain Marshall Plumlee, and former Duke superstar Nolan Smith. But clearly we were not there to walk onto the team. The drills pushed many of us out of our comfort zones, and sometimes forced us to embrace failure. The range of skill obviously varied tremendously from person to person, but it was through that very diversity of ability that taught us the essence of teamwork: to help out our friends in need, and to ensure the success of our entire group. Ultimately, we learned that having a positive attitude, encouraging our teammates, and ensuring collective effort are just as paramount to our teams’ success at Fuqua as they are to the Blue Devils’ success on the court.

So far, the Duke Basketball Experience may be the event that has best encapsulated the Team Fuqua spirit this year. Whether students enjoy basketball or not, the Duke Basketball Experience makes the parallels between sport and business ever so clear. Duke basketball and Fuqua share common traits in their respective pursuits of excellence, from the most basic aspects of teamwork, to the necessarily clear goals that must be defined by athletes and businesspeople alike. Whether it be on the court or in the boardroom, the most successful outcomes stem from the collective chemistry and willpower of those who find a way to work and rise together.

Duke MMS: FOB Student Blogger Bradley Paternostro, Fuqua School of Business

Bradley Paternostro

I'm from New Jersey where I studied English at Princeton. I came to Fuqua to develop business skills to compliment my prior experience.

Learn more about Bradley | View all of Bradley's Posts

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