What IS a Point Guard, Anyway?
By Dena Evans
I’ve been asked a lot of times over the years why the programs I ran were limited to point guards and why I insisted on calling it “The Point Guard College” rather than the broader and more inclusive name “The Basketball College.”
Well, for one thing, I was a point guard for my entire basketball career. It’s what I know best, and it’s the perspective from which I’ve always viewed the game of basketball.
And while I admit that I’m biased, I think it’s the most important position on a basketball team. You rarely, if ever, see a team at any level win a championship without great guard play and great leadership.
But more importantly, my definition of the term “point guard” has always been more broad than most people’s. Sure, one way to define the term is as a position on a basketball team. Typically, it’s the player on the team who is responsible for directing the team’s offensive attack and for getting the ball up the floor and into the right hands.
But I always thought that a good point guard could…and should…be so much more than that.
It always seemed to me that a good point guard should be the team’s strongest link. He should be the one player capable of bearing the most responsibility, of responding the most admirably to adversity, and of raising the spirits of his teammates when everything around them seems hopeless and discouraging.
And, she should be the player who contributes the most and cares the least about who gets the credit. Her example, attitude, and enthusiasm should inspire others to do better, whether her positive influence on them gets noticed or not.
A true point guard should be capable of committing to something bigger than himself and of giving himself to a cause more worthy and more meaningful than his scoring average or how many all-star teams he can get named to. He should be unselfish in the sense that he’s willing to work his hardest and give everything he has to his team and to the game, even if it often goes unnoticed and unrecognized.
Also, she should thrive on adversity and take pride in her ability to respond to mistakes, failures, and disappointments better than anyone she knows. She should show up and give her best, every day, no matter what. She should know how to bring it.
And, a good point guard should be the most prepared, the most mentally tough, and the most noble-minded player on the team. He should refuse to major in minor things.
In other words, a good point guard should lead.
Notice that none of the above characteristics need be limited to the person on a basketball team who is “responsible for directing the team’s offensive attack.” Any player on a team is capable of doing these things. Sometimes, the best point guard on a team, by this expanded definition, is the center or a wing player. Think Larry Bird or Kobe Bryant or Maya Moore or Tim Duncan.
And by this definition, the term “point guard” needn’t even be limited to the sport of basketball. Two of the best pure point guards in all of sports right now are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Many hockey fans will attest to the “point guard” skills of Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, and any general manager in Major League Baseball would probably love having Derek Jeter as the point guard of their ballclub.
As a matter of fact, some of the greatest point guards of all time never played any sport. There are great point guards in business, in schools, in coffee shops and restaurants, and even in families.
Great Point Guards in History
Being a great point guard is more than just a position on a basketball team. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of being, both on and off the court. Any team that has a great point guard will perform better and be more successful.
That’s why I love teaching (and learning from) point guards.
Are you one?