John Wooden often compared his teams to a car with players such as Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), Bill Walton, and Sidney Wicks acting as the engine, but made sure everyone knew that an engine alone is not enough to be effective. The following quote is from the book Wooden. As a coach myself, I especially took notice of his statement!
A lug nut may seem like a little thing, but it’s not. There is a role that each and every one of us must play. We may aspire to what we consider to be a larger role, or a more important role, but we cannot achieve that until we show that we are able to fulfill the role we are assigned. It’s these little things that make the big things happen. The big engine is not going to work unless the little things are being done properly.
Remember that Michael Jordan was with the Chicago Bulls several years before he ever played in a championship game. Was he talented? Of course he was, but that powerful engine called Air Jordan was in a car with some parts that were not functioning properly.
Of course, when I told the players about their roles and the car with the powerful engine, new tires, and tight lug nuts, I also reminded them the car needed a driver behind the wheel or it would just go around in circles or smash into a tree.
I told them the driver was me.