Learn how to overcome adversity in your work and personal life from the Assistant Coach for the LA Lakers. Paul Pressey has spent over 30 years in the NBA as either a player or coach.Sign Up to Watch
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-And I want to bring that up because Napoleon Hill, the author-- I'm a big fan of him, bestselling author-- he has this quote where he says, "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." With three kids-- you're trying to raise three kids, you're in the NBA--
-Not yet. I didn't have three yet.
-How many kids did you have at this point? Did you have any kids yet, when you were in the NBA? When did you have your first child?
-So you were in the NBA for about two years before you had any kids.
-As you're, though, trying to be a family man-- like Wilt Chamberlain is an example. He describes in his book, "The NBA Life," in pretty vulgar detail, but basically, there's just a lot of temptation, from sex to drugs to alcohol to nightlife to whatever. What kind of challenges did you face as you're trying to keep a family together at the NBA level? What's that like?
-The biggest thing for players, especially married people that-- your time off. During the season, your relationships are pretty good because you get that break. OK, I see you in three days and we'll go on the road. Come back. Oh, I love you. You love me. [KISSING SOUND] And you go again. Go back out for two or three days. So you get that break.
But the summertime when it hit-- back then, you used to-- could play in a lot of charities events. Whether it was bowling, golf, whatever. And you would go. But that whole time, if you got a family, you leave your family home. And you're going to these events. By the time you come home for two days and you got to go to the other one. These events is like four or five days. So now you don't have no time with your family.
So at some point, where do you learn to grow and bond? My thing was to override that. And I didn't know I was doing this, Clay. I said, you know what? If you want me to come to this event-- I had one child at the time-- I said, I got to bring my wife and my kid. Because I want to learn and know my wife and my kid when I'm not constantly going.
-That's one thing as I've got to know you and David Robinson and Dr. Zoellner and different guys who I've talked to, have been great mentors on the Thrive team. The idea, they keep mentioning that. The importance of bringing your wife with you on it. My wife's on the set today. Which is why if I keep drifting my focus--
-That's why I'm trying to help you out on this.
-I'm trying to hit on her. I'm just going to look over and try-- kind of-- so I keep going-- OK. But seriously, bringing your wife with you and incorporating your wife and your kid in your business. I bring my son up to work all the time. People are like, what's he doing? I bring him up there because he's a big part of my life and I want him to know what's going on. And someday I'd like him to be involved and work with him. And I think that's awesome.
Now I want to ask you this, though. You played in the NBA with some crazy dudes. You played with some awesome players. Question number one. You played 11 seasons in the NBA. And you've coached now for I think what--
-So who's the guy you played with, who's hands down the best player to play with, on and off the court? You're like, this is a great player. But also, just-- to me there's a lot of good dudes. But who was the guy where you go, this is an awesome dude off the court and on the court, wow.
-Terry Cummings was one.
-He was probably the guy that-- we hung out a lot. He would pick me up. We'd go to the airport together and fly together. Pick me up, go to games together. Because one, we lived in the same neighborhood. But David Robinson was another one who I thought was just-- he stood up for all the things that you want your kids and grandkids to see what a professional athlete slash businessman slash father figure and so on.
-How hard is that to do that at the NBA level? When a guy like David or Terry Cummings stands up for their values at the NBA level? How hard is that?
-It's hard, but I think if you keep a humble heart and stay focused on what life is really all about. For example, I never lived beyond my means as a rookie. Because of the village. A dollar still had a value of a dollar to me. And I never lost that
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-Now, I want to ask you, now, you've obviously coached-- I'm going to list off the teams. If I miss a team, you tell me.
-You've coached the Hornets, you've coach the Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors, you've got the Cavaliers, and the Hornets, you have the Boston Celtics, the Magic, the San Antonio Spurs, and now with the Lakers. Is there one I'm missing?
-What is the biggest challenge that you face as a coach on a daily level? Let me-- people are watching this who aren't really into basketball or pro sports. Most of these guys are making now, in the NBA, the league minimum is, I think, $800,000 a year.
-Not that much. $400,000-something.
-A lot, though.
-So some of the guys, though, the average player is making several million dollars a year.
-They're making a whole lot more than the average person.
-OK. Let me ask you something--
- --and a lot more than the average coaches, though. So what's it like, as a coach-- what are the challenges that you have as a coach coaching men who are, a lot of times, making 5, 10 times more than the coaches? And these are guys that are young men just coming into a lot of money, a lot of success, a lot of opportunity, and also a lot of temptations. What's it like coaching on the NBA level? What are those challenges?
-For me, since I've been around it so long, Clay, it's like raising my own kids.
CLAY CLARK: OK.
-It's really as simple as that. And I talk to them like my own kids.
CLAY CLARK: OK.
-Like, hey, what are you doing with your money? Hey, you going out tonight? Where you going? They look at me with a little smirk, you know, eh, Coach, come on. I ain't going out. I look at them like, really? You know?
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-And I say, oh, you're different, right?
-Are you going to that next-level dadness? Are you putting GPSes on their cars? Are you waiting at home at night for each guy?
-This is what I tell them. I go, you know, as an assistant coach, part of my responsibilities is to make sure where you are and where you're going. And they look at you and go, ah, Coach, you, uh-- I say, all right. That's OK. So I throw them a little curve, because I hear some things.
Well, I understand you were at such and such last night. They go-- ha, how you know, Coach? Wait, who told you that? And I don't know. But I let them think I know.
CLAY CLARK: Oh, the Yoda.
-We're not going to let-- by the way, NBA players, we've got a unique thing in our Thrive system, our database, where NBA players can't log onto the website. So we can talk about this. They can't notice.
-Oh, well, if we don't use no names, they don't know.
-Very sophisticated technology we have.
-But another thing that I try to do-- and I think I mentioned this to you maybe a month or so ago.
-One of the quotes I heard, over one of the gospel stations, was about mentorship.
CLAY CLARK: Yes.
-And mentorship-- which, it just hit home-- it's like mentorship is wisdom without pain.
-You called me. You called me.
-And you were like, hey, I want to tell you this.
-And I think that's huge, wisdom without pain.
-And that being said, it's to share your experience and your heartaches and your hard times that you've been through, OK, with these young people, or even your peers, to say, I'm telling you this, I'm sharing this with you so you don't have to deal with some of the pain that I dealt with when dealt with it.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-So, to me, that's part of mentorship. I'm trying to help you grow up so you won't have to deal with it.
-How do you stay positive on a daily basis? Let's just give an example. Last night, I know you got in at 2:00 in the morning. So I appreciate you being here, by the way. You're a champion of freedom for being here.
-That's not a problem.
-But you get in from Phoenix last night I believe, 2:00 in the morning. I have a young man on the team that breaks his leg. You have a challenging game. And how do you stay positive?
It's 82 games, am I right? 82 games, regular season.
-82 games. Correct.
-How many in the preseason?
-Eight games. How do you stay positive on a daily basis? Those kind of things are happening all the time. How do you do it?
-Well, first of all, and I tell people all the time, you got to have balance in your life. Then I put it in these three prioritize it. Having God in my life, first.
And knowing where I am. It keeps me with a humble heart. He keeps my spirit up. I talk to Him every morning to help me get through my day.
And secondly, my family. My kids, my wife. I talk to her 10 times a day, if not more. I have grandkids.
-And I try to Facetime them so they can see my face, hear my voice. Especially my youngest one, who's only going to turn two in a couple months. But that helps keep balance for me.
It is my job. So when I get to my job, my life is already laid out for me. And then when I get to, to talk about my family, I know why I'm here. To help take care of them and continue to mentor them and love my wife and help lift her up. And we draw from each other.
So by the time I get to work, I'm all joy and I'm all smiles And I pass that on to the young men that I coach every day.
-Now, in your journey from, as we kind of come full circle here, last question I have here for you. As you come from the village now to the NBA, a lot of people go from the village to the NBA. From the village to the top of their career, from somewhere to the top. And then they explode. They're like--
They, you know.
When they get to the top, it's just, it's like, they blow up. It's like the space shuttle that doesn't get into the atmosphere.
-Here's a line for you. I say it all the time. I say, you must go through the process before you get the product. So, a lot of times, people like you said, boom! Get the product.
They ain't been through nothing and have not absorbed that information. They've seen it. They haven't paid attention to it. They just went through it. They didn't learn anything.
And to go through the process, meaning you have to learn. As my mother said, well you've got to learn to crawl before you can walk. You've got to learn the little steps before you get to the big steps. And so when you get to the big steps, you know how hard it was to crawl. I'm going to appreciate this.
-But if you do have that product without that pro-- without going through the process, you don't really know how to handle it. Or if you kind of get the wealth without the wisdom, I guess the proverb says it's wealth gained through folly. As quickly, quickly it disappears. So you're just saying, you got to get that foundation going here.
-You gotta have it. And I want to give you two stats. One of the stats, in the NBA life, is 80 plus percent divorce rate.
-Active slash non-active. 80% of divorce rate. Now, you look back and you go, how did all that happen? I had all the fame, all the money. You stabilize.
That's all the things that I'm talking about. Foundation, commitment, having God in your life. We all make mistakes. I wasn't perfect. But at the same time, when you make a mistake, are you willing to change? Are you willing to sacrifice and willing to give yourself to other situations and other people? Well, I don't feel that they have to until they hit rock bottom, and they lose everything.
The other thing is, if you really look back on some of the-- you flash back and watch a lot of the interviews with some of the players, for example. And they talk about what they're thankful for, or God blessed me with the ability to play, and da da da. They go on and on. And they said, and my mother, and my mother, and my mother, and my mother.
And you very rarely hear them say anything about my father and my mother. Or my mother and my father. It's just, it's single parenting. So now, when we get these kids on a professional level, and we're talking to trying to get them to do certain things on and off the court, they don't know how to respond to us--
-To a male figure.
---as a male figure. So it's tough for them. So now you have to hold their hand, because that's the first thing I hit them with. I say, how you doing? I said, how's your mom and dad doing? My mom, I don't know where my dad is.
So now, I know how to approach him. I know how to find out where he is and how can I help him. And I'm not going to be your mother, 'cause you already got that. This is what you have to do. Trust me, I'm not going to tell you something that's going to hurt you.
Because I want you to have success. You have success, I have success. The organization has success. I've done that from, shoot, my first day of coaching in the NBA.
-I have one little mentorship tip, if I could give the guys tonight before the game. Because tomorrow, I think you're playing the Clippers. Just a few tips that you could sprinkle around the locker room. It's just tips I have. Because I was really good in, like, seventh grade.
-Can you get rid of three guys, three starters for me?
-Tip number one I've got is they need to do more-- they need to do the old left hand scoop shot more often. You don't see the left hand scoop shot very much.
-That can happen, because we got about three or four left handed guys on our team.
-I want to see more that you just talk to the guys. Hey, make us not want to do. Kobe could try that. It might help him a little bit. And then the whole runner, you don't see enough runners. And then the third tip I have is the backboard. That's our friend. That's my friend, that's their friend.
-I like the backboard.
-It's a tip.
-I like the backboard.
-Hey, thank you for letting me harass you, my friend.
-It's my pleasure, Clay.
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