NBA’s Keith Askins on Mindset, Values and Work Ethic

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Just this weekend, the NBA held it’s 65th annual All Star game. The skill, dedication and mindset the players brought to the game caused me to think back to the interview I did with the Miami Heat’s Keith Askins while writing The Common Thread of Overcoming Adversity and Living Your Dreams.

I was able to sit with Keith right after the Heat’s storybook 2012-13 NBA Championship season. They celebrated 66 wins with only 16 defeats with a record of 15 and 1 in their own division. The Heat put together the second longest winning streak in NBA history with 27 wins that season, second only to the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who still hold the record with 33 straight victories.

Dedication and Positive Mindset
The best word to describe Keith Askins is resilient. Keith is all about positive beliefs, optimism, developing your problem-solving skills and cultivating a strong social network. His accomplishments could never have been achieved without his dedication and positive mindset.

Six-foot-seven-inch Keith Askins played basketball for the University of Alabama where his coach, Winfrey “Wimp” Sanderson told him, “I won’t guarantee you will play, but I will guarantee you a good education.”  “That was fine with me,” recalls Keith. Keith never expected to play in the NBA—he wasn’t drafted like most NBA players. But in 1990 he was picked up by the Miami Heat. “To be honest, not being drafted had very little impact on me because I had plenty of job opportunities outside of basketball.”

Miami Heat three-time NBA Champion
However, Keith’s aggressive play and long-range shooting proved attractive to the newly formed Miami Heat franchise team, the Miami Heat. He thought it just might be a good fit for me. He told me, ‘You are young and athletic—it just may work—and I went down to Miami. And now here I am, in my twenty-fourth year with the Heat, as both a player and an assistant coach!” Askins served as the Heat’s Captain for four straight seasons, from 1995 through 1999. The club awarded him the team’s Leadership Award in both the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.

Volunteer Coach
Immediately after he retired from the NBA, the Heat management demonstrated their respect and confidence in Keith by asking him to serve as an unpaid, volunteer coach. They knew he still had much to contribute to the organization. Keith worked and interacted with some of the most successful players and coaches of all time, including Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, and players LeBron James and Dwayne Wade while winning three world championships. Askins first joined the coaching staff under Riley halfway through the 1999-2000 season and was promoted to a full-time position a few months later, at the start of the following season.

He now serves as the organization’s Director of College and Pro Scouting.

Grandfather Was His Role Model
Keith’s parents were divorced when he was only six. So his grandfather became his role model and a mentor, he worked as a janitor for General Motors. I remember him coming home from work and still getting on the tractor to cut the grass and take care of the pigs and goats he had.  He was the kind of man who, if he said he would do something—believe me—he would do it! He never missed a day of work until the day he was diagnosed with cancer. I believe the fact that he could not work bothered him more than the illness itself.”

A Common Thread?
I asked Keith if he could see THE COMMON THREAD running through the success of NBA stars with LeBron James or others he has worked with during his 25+ years in the business. He did not hesitate in his response: You have to be very competitive and committed to the cause.  Everyone needs a good network of people surrounding them, helping them aim to do better. Success breeds success.

Keith’s Great Advice
“You need to be able to defend yourself with the right values and work ethics. Many give up too early. Often they’ve failed to surround themselves with the right people. We all need help—someone to give us an opportunity. But we need to take the opportunity and run with it ourselves.”

  • “You need to be thankful, and to appreciate what is in front of you. “You need to be prepared and be willing to take on whatever comes your way, believing you can do it.”
  • “Everybody is born with something special about them. But it’s up to each person individually to develop it. I have never met a truly successful person who has not worked for it. Talent can be wasted if you don’t have the right mindset.”

“We have one mindset, and that mindset is winning!” — Keith Askins.

How can Keith’s advice help you to develop your special skills?  Do you have the right mindset to be prepared and be willing to take on whatever comes your way?

Copyright 2016 Jerry Gladstone