Following a game winning shot by Kawhi Leonard:

“He does that every night. I mean, everybody worked hard. Kawhi is obviously a talented young man, and he knocked down the last shot. But it’s always a team effort. I thought we hung tough. We didn’t play that sharp. Usually, your first game after a long road trip is pretty tough. We didn’t shoot well in the first half, and they hung in there. The mental toughness showed. They just kept playing, kept playing. We made a lot of mistakes, but they played through them. That was the best part of the game.”


From Earl Watson:

“The thing about defense is there’s no perfect technique. It’s all on intensity, passion, toughness and a lot of heart.”


After a recent loss:

“We didn’t play with any heart, and that’s the summary of the game. It comes down to toughness and [saying] ‘I’m going to stop my man.’ And the lack of effort that we showed out there was very disappointing, but it has been like that the whole year. Get up high. Go down low. It’s a lack of focus. A lack of leadership. I love Daniel to death, but I don’t care if he scores 40 points. You can’t give up 60 percent shooting in the second half. Yeah, I’ll clap for Daniel, but we couldn’t guard nobody in the halfcourt.”


Following the Bulls loss to the Clippers:

“We let guys do whatever they wanted out there. I know we have to start winning; can’t keep waiting. The time is now. No answers. I don’t know why we do it (inconsistency). It’s everybody, not one person more than the other. We all have to bring it from the jump. Continue to play the right way and start winning these games. Not putting bodies on people, or rebounding and guys getting to their strengths; that’s the will. Defense is all about toughness; we’re not guarding, so we don’t look tough.”


After the Bulls lost to the Clippers:

“No grit, no toughness; closeouts were lackadaisical. A lot of that is we didn’t do a good job staying in front of the ball.


“When we play in the Olympics, the physicality in the Olympics is actually — they’re more physical than the NBA is. It’s the silliest thing in the world. The NBA used to be the toughest, strongest league in the world, and now it’s not that.


On what he looks for in a player:

“I always say there’s four things that make up a good player on a good team: No. 1 is talent. No. 2 is toughness. You’ve gotta be a tough kid, mentally, emotionally, physically. You can’t break down and whine about calls, or I didn’t get a shot, or this didn’t go my way. No. 3 you’ve gotta love playing.  ‘Do you play all the time? Are you a gym rat’? And No. 4, character. I look at their demeanor on the floor, their behavior.”


I’m sad to report that former NBA power forward Maurice Lucas has passed away. Today I write about ‘Toughness’ in our 90 Day Basketball Improvement Plan.

Day 65 – Toughness

Nobody ever said it would be easy; that goes for life and basketball.  Being tough means shaping up, getting it together and giving all you have. It’s pushing yourself when you feel like giving up. It’s having the guts to bust through the wall.

It’s not grabbing your shorts and bending down while on the free-throw line. Toughness is not allowing the opponent see you when you’re tired.

Maurice Lucas was one of the toughest power forwards the league has ever seen. He lost his battle with cancer yesterday and passed away. The New York Times on the man Bill Walton calls, ‘The greatest Blazer ever.”

“I played very hard and very physical, but I thought I also played pretty smart because I studied my opponents rabidly,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “So I knew their tendencies and things I could take away from them on defense.”

How tough are you when it comes to basketball? Are you tough and smart? Do you set screens for your teammates? Do you pursue rebounds? Do you get up and defend as hard as possible?

Toughness isn’t beating people up with your fists on the court.  It’s about not backing down when someone tries to ‘punk’ you.

Toughness isn’t just physical, its mental; you can’t get yourself into top physical condition if you are not mentally tough to train.

When you get knocked down, make sure you are tough enough to get back up.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

-Unknown Source

-Coach Finamore

Follow me on Twitter: @CoachFinamore


Last season ESPN’s Jay Bilas wrote a great piece on ‘toughness’. I thought it was a great read; one of the greatest pieces of advice on the game ever! Everyone raved about it; coaches all across America printed it and posted it in their locker rooms. They also passed it around as a hand-out.

Bilas did a great job breaking it down on what it took to get things done on the court, especially on a toughness level.

The game of basketball, especially at the highest level, is not for the weak.  The higher in level you go, the tougher you need to be. (When I say tough, I don’t mean fist-fighting)

Here’s my take on toughness. The next few days I will break down different aspects of the game and where toughness factors in.


We all know about Allen Iverson’s ‘practice’ rant, one of the most played video clips of all-time; regardless of what A.I. said, practice is the backbone to a player’s success.  It’s where you get your extra shooting in, you work on conditioning, and most of all, you get to spend time with your teammates running the offense and working together on the defensive end.  It’s where you learn defensive principles, concepts and where you see who can help you on game day.

I once read a great quote about Michael Jordan being the greatest practice player in the history of basketball. I also found this from Adrian W. of Yahoo Sports on Jerry Krause.

“Michael absolutely killed Scottie in practice every day for his first two years. Mike just tore Pip up. He made Pip learn how to compete and forced him into playing hard. Had there not been someone to challenge Scottie like that, I’m not sure what would’ve happened to him.”

What if Jordan had not went after Scottie Pippen hard in practice every day? Would Scottie have been as great as he turned out?

You need to compete every day in practice; regardless if your best friend or roommate is guarding you in a scrimmage game or even if you are competing against them in a drill.

Here’s a piece on Jordan from ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson.

“We’d run a three-man shooting drill in practice,” longtime assistant Johnny Bach recalled. “And Michael always made sure he had the threesome he wanted. Not Trent Tucker, not Johnny Paxson, not Craig Hodges [among the best 3-point shooters in the league].

“He’d say, ‘I’m calling my pigeons up to shoot.’ They were shooting for some remuneration. He’d force himself to shoot under pressure. He needed a challenge to beat [Scottie] Pippen. He knew Horace [Grant] had a nice shot. He’d also throw some wicked passes to [his shooters]. You’re supposed to honor the code to throw a good pass to the shooter, but he had a way of throwing screwballs and sinkers. Not that he would have tolerated that. That was imperial Michael at his best.”

“Run it back, run it back,” is what Michael yelled when his team lost. It is what he said whenever he had lost.

Run it back, run it back is something that needs to be said over and over in practice if you expect to improve. Is it any wonder the greatest player in the history of basketball was arguably the greatest practice player of all-time?

Here are a couple of practice tips that all players can use:

Come prepared to practice hard every day. (Focus)

Arrive early

Stretch out

Take meaningful shots to warm up

Run the floor hard




Pay attention to the coaching staff

Challenge your teammates

Stay after practice and work on your offensive moves.

Get in extra shooting


-Coach Finamore

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