The Basketball Podcast: EP 307 with Anthony McClish on Ownership of Decisions

RELEASE DATE : 14/02/2024

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, G League Ignite general manager Anthony McClish joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on ownership of decisions, relationships and organization building.

Anthony McClish is a distinguished basketball executive with a rich history of accomplishments within the industry. He is the current General Manager of the NBA G League Ignite, a role he began in 2022. Under his guidance, the team experienced significant growth and success, with McClish playing a central role in shaping strategic initiatives, refining player development programs, and fostering an environment conducive to achieving excellence both on and off the court.

Prior to his tenure with the G League Ignite, McClish served as the General Manager for the Stockton Kings. Within the Sacramento Kings organizations, he honed his expertise as a Basketball Operations Assistant at the Sacramento Kings where he gained invaluable insights into player management, team dynamics, and the intricacies of operational efficiency within a premier basketball franchise.

McClish started his professional career as an intern with basketball operations with the San Antonio Spurs. He has also served as a consultant with USA Basketball. He holds an Executive MBA in Business Administration and Management from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Anthony McClish

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Anthony McClish Quotes:

“The reason that I love the G League Ignite is because we’re very genuinely and consistently focused on development . . It’s very genuinely aimed at doing right by the players at the individual level.”

“The main focus is how do we get these guys better and how do we help them and how do we put resources around them, examples around them, put them in situations that are the most conducive to their individual development.”

“The science behind mentorship and examples and putting examples around players . . for our young guys, I think it’s really important to have examples around them at the peer level, not at the coach level or the management level or even like a strength coach or something.”

“There are many moments where we very specifically put different veterans in with different young players and to try to mitigate and mitigate risk and enhance the strengths of the young guys.”

“You have to really define fit and what that is. This program is not for everybody. We tell people that all the time. It’s for a select few that have a values alignment and a goals alignment and a background and a personal characteristics alignment with us.”

“When you have a certain title, you are expected to make decisions and you have to stand by those decisions . . the decisions in that environment are produced collectively and by information sharing, of course, but they’re ultimately my decision and I have to represent that.”

“Going back to relationship building, it’s the moments when it might be unpopular or uncomfortable or inconvenient that you, as the leader, need to ask, ‘Am I really about this? Do I really believe this?’ And that could be, do I really believe in this player or do I really believe in this behavior? It’s easy to do that when the sun’s shining and you’re winning and everyone’s getting along, but it’s in the moments that are the opposite of those where you really find out what you’re about and if you’re really willing to do that in a genuine way.”

“You have to really redefine what success looks like, what our purpose is, and what are our success metrics. And then if you do that . . it [progress] becomes much more linear when you redefine what you’re looking for and what success looks like . . if your approach is consistent and your definition of success is consistent, you will eventually get there. And you’ll get there in spikes, in moments of spikiness.”

“In that crisis moment, how do we turn it into a growth opportunity and build resilience or lean on resilience that you’ve already built to get through that moment? With Ignite, these players are put in a position that is by far the most difficult basketball environment that they’ve ever been in. And they want that and they ask for that.”

“We’re big on empowerment, and we’re big on putting guys in positions where they have tools and resources, and then they have to figure it out. They have to figure out how to use them and why certain people or things are in their life and what the purpose is . . we have to put them in positions where they’re stretched beyond their capabilities, but then we also have to support them and educate them and walk alongside them, develop those, like you said, those coping strategies to enhance that resilience.”

“You learn how to stay the course amidst performance difficulties. Absent results that you’re used to, how do I continue to steady my approach and grow and use these moments and interpret these moments as positive growth opportunities.”

“I don’t think you can properly evaluate and collaborate with someone if you don’t understand what is trying to be accomplished . . do I understand what the other person’s job is? Do I understand where they’re coming from? Have I built that relationship? And then can we come together and be a united front for what’s the best interest of the player?”

“One of the things I remember from watching Coach Pop in San Antonio was the embrace of silence and to allow someone to answer the question and give them time for thought and asking follow up questions and clarification questions . . if you can get them to come up with their own solutions, that is so much more powerful than just giving someone a blueprint and telling them what to do.”

Anthony McClish Breakdown:

  • Managing tensions
  • Embracing difficult conversations
  • Effective communication
  • Learning through questioning
  • Fostering safety for risk taking
  • Balancing competitive advantage and development
  • Uniform standards and personalized growth plans
  • Mentorship in player development
  • Cohesion among program staff
Anthony McClish Selected Links from the Podcast:

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