Mindful

The San Francisco Bay Area’s NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, broke the record for the best opening to an NBA season Tuesday night, by going 16-0. After the decisive win elite point guard Stephen Curry told the New York Times, “You got to continue to just stay in the moment. When you stay in the moment, good things happen, because everybody’s just wrapped up in the process.”

The team is led by head coach Steve Kerr—who played for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era—and was taught meditation and how to refine the inner game, along with other teammates, by George Mumford, who recently put out the book The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance.

At the time, Kerr, who has an ample sense of humor, coined the term “Mumfied” to describe the effect Mumford’s work could have on a player. Something about the teachings and practices from those days seems to have stuck, though, since, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kerr told his players on Tuesday before their pregame shootaround that he wanted them to exude four qualities:

  • Joy
  • Mindfulness
  • Compassion
  • Competition

Not your conventional formula for athletic performance, but it seems to be working. The Warriors’ current streak comes on the heels of last year’s spectacular performance in the NBA Finals. In his rookie year as an NBA head coach, Kerr led the Warriors to their first championship in 30 years.

Two other high-performing former colleagues of Kerr who also worked with Mumford are now competitors: Phil Jackson, who has won more NBA championships than any other coach, is now president of the New York Knicks, and Jordan, the highest points-per-game scorer in NBA history, is owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Meditation may soon be old hat in the NBA.

Ironically, Mumford counsels his players to focus less on the outcome, on “how you’re doing,” and more on the condition of your body and mind in the moment, “what you’re doing.” This counterintuitive move is key to real performance, in Mumford’s view. (Look for longtime sports writer Hugh Delehanty’s profile of George Mumford in the February 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.)

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