Linked below is a fantastic article written by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil on the leadership chain that has developed between Michigan State greats during Tom Izzo’s tenure. I love the quotes about being able to hold your teammates accountable. From Travis Walton saying, “Doing what needs to be done and saying what needs to be said. That’s it” to Tom Izzo saying telling Valentine, “You’ve got to be able to call out your best friend,” peer-to-peer leadership is at the heart of Michigan State’s success under Izzo. It’s eally cool to see how the great Michigan State players remain a part of the program long after they are gone through the legacy of leadership that has been created. It is interesting to hear that players vie to be the latest in the leadership line more so than to be the team’s leading scorer. The story reminds me of the “Leave The Jersey in a Better Place” philosophy adopted by the All Blacks (the New Zealand national rugby team).
Every team worth its salt searches for leaders, placing a C, figuratively or literally, on the jersey of the person deemed strong enough to be in control.
Michigan State bequeaths its leadership like a family heirloom, and ex-players not only pass the torch but also ensure that it remains properly lit year after year.
“I truly believe one of the reasons we’re still in the conversation as one of the top programs is, your time here is never up,” Cleaves said. “You finished playing? No, that doesn’t mean you’re done. You keep talking to the guys who come after you. It’s nothing for these guys to get a text from Draymond or me. It’s what we do. It’s why we are who we are.”