There is a brilliant scene in the movie Hoosiers. Hickory is down one in the state final with the ball and call time-out. Coach Dale draws up a play with the immortal Jimmy Chitwood deployed as a decoy. As he draws up the play, Coach Dale doesn’t make eye contact with his team. He is lost in winning the state title and vindicating himself as a coach. The final play will have his clever, in that day, chalk marks all over it. He has in that moment forgotten team ownership.
As he finally looks his team in the eye, the dissent is palpable. Jimmy looks back and says, “I’ll make it.”
Jimmy gets his isolation at the top. Muncie Central fails to double and get the ball out of his hands, and Jimmy makes it.
Here’s the thing. Even if he missed, Jimmy owned that shot. He had carried Hickory to the final with his shooting, and had the complete faith of everyone on that team. They all knew it was his shot to take, and even if Muncie Central doubled and made him pass any one of them on the floor would have stepped into that shot with Jimmy’s confidence because he trusted them with his pass. This empowerment would not be the same on the chalkboard, but would exist organically in the flow of the game. This is team ownership.
This is Jordan passing to Paxson and later Kerr for Championship clinching shots. This is Big Shot Bob Horry collecting a long rebound in Sacramento and shooting the Lakers on to the finals. This is Christian Laettner completing a perfect shooting night at the buzzer of the greatest college basketball game ever played.
Team ownership is the return on the investment in a common, collective purpose. It may not be equal in parts, but always equal in sum.