What in the world? The Cavaliers made history and news all over the world with one of the biggest trades in all of NBA history at mid-season. No one had a true idea of what was happening, but the Cleveland Cavs pulled off a flurry of trades ahead of the 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline.The first blockbuster move by the Cavaliers was sending point guard Isaiah Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers after he played in just 15 games for the team. Cleveland's front office did not stop there and continued making deals that resulted in a younger and transformed roster around LeBron James.If you are much of a sports fan, you already know these details: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the Cavaliers' protected first-round draft pick were sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. Dwayne Wade returned to the Miami Heat in exchange for a heavily protected second-round pick. Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose were sent to the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal that also involved the Sacramento Kings. Iman Shumpert was sent to the Kings in the deal. The Cavaliers acquired Rodney Hood and George Hill. Cleveland will send a 2020 second round pick from Miami to Sacramento. The Jazz will release Rose so that he can sign with a playoff team.But the real story goes deeper. It had to do with culture and egos. One sportswriter said, “The Thomas trade ends his ill-fated run in Cleveland that saw him return from a hip injury to struggle on the floor and clash with teammates off it.” Others have said, “Large egos often are unwilling to accept new roles they need to play, or to follow the systems and directions of a new culture.”Isaiah Thomas expressed his desire to not be traded, but he didn’t exhibit a desire to work with the team he professed he wanted to play with. He came into the organization without a willingness to learn the culture. He was speaking up and out too much before he had earned the respect of his teammates, or earned the right to talk, especially critically. He hadn’t been there long enough to know the culture or the systems. He had only played 15 games before he was traded, yet was highly vocal with his criticism of both management and fellow players. It contributed to a malaise that spread across the team. That illness was contagious, according to those inside the team management. Lack of enthusiasm and lethargy became the general mood.So, the owners decided to let Isaiah go. They took this opportunity to switch out other players too, and bring in guys who would work within the system, playing the roles they were asked to play. Immediately the team was noticeably different. They won two straight games, looking like the Cavs we used to know—and that was even without a pair of the new young legs on the floor.No team can work successfully with competing spirits vying for authority and agenda. The Cavaliers had been reeling since Christmas, going 7-13 in that span, as the team's defensive weaknesses and lethargic effort continued to be exposed. "We were really worried that what was happening on the floor and in our culture in the building was making us do a slow death march and we didn't want to be a part of that," Cavaliers GM Koby Altman said.Everyone who was traded had fans, and Isaiah certainly did. But the number of fans and amount of talent is less important than accepting and fulfilling your role, team loyalty, and surrendering your own ego for the team win.It’s not just true in the NBA. It’s true for your company, too.
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