06182023

Jimmy Butler and Nikola Jokic Led Their Teams to the NBA Finals in Very Different Ways

Though Jokic and Butler use very different styles, they have earned the trust of their teammates.

Chris Adkins saw clues to how they developed that trust when he watched some of their interviews. Adkins, the academic director of leadership development at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, saw a manifestation of research that he said has shown that “ability, benevolence and integrity” are three essential components of fostering trust.

“Their players seem to buy in, whether it’s a more vocal or more quiet approach, because they know deep down this person has high ability, they’re consistent with great integrity, they practice what they preach, they walk the walk,” Adkins said. “But they’re also committed to us, not just to their own ego.”

Jokic is well known as an unselfish player; he averaged 9.8 assists per game this season. He has often said that his basketball ethos came from a coach in Serbia who told him that when you pass you make two people happy, but when you score only one person is happy. He eschews credit when he speaks to reporters and is quick to praise his teammates.

Butler grew up outside of Houston and was kicked out of his home as a teenager. After high school, with little interest from major college programs, he spent a year at a junior college in Texas, before going to Marquette. Though Butler makes fewer assists than Jokic, he also plays in an unselfish style, and he instills confidence in his teammates.

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