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Values, or when the NBA wonders if basketball superstar Victor Wembanyama could shake them

"With your obsession with values, you will end up alone," said a Prince Charming to his princess when he parted ways with her. This princess, who had become a businesswoman who liked to live according to her values, told me this and I wondered if companies could fail because of an excess of integrity. This woman of remarkable intelligence and elegance was always very committed to her ideas. She loved the values of justice, loyalty and fidelity and fought to have them respected.

Her secret challenged me and I wondered at the time why respecting our values could relegate us to isolation and whether this was a threat or an opportunity for business. Are we becoming so uncomfortable with our values that we are becoming inconvenient? At the time I thought about it and then forgot to ask.

Corporate values: a nice to have that has become a must have

I was reminded of this topic by the Harvard Business Review's headline: "What Does Your Company Really Stand For?" associated with the victory in Las Vegas of Victor Wembanyama, our Mbappe of basketball. The illustrious American magazine points out that the alignment of a company's actions with its values, yesterday’s “a nice to have”, almost a luxury in the business world, has become a must have, a necessity. The HBR has even calculated that the misalignment of an executive costs 40% more salary to motivate him. Since then, all the investment funds that are shareholders of Total are worried that P.Pouyannet would ask for 40% more tomorrow if he adopted non-fossilized values. It also reminds us that the alignment between the values proclaimed and those embodied increases commitment.

For those of you who don't know, the NBA is in a state of upheaval on the issue of values. This since Slam (the US basketball fan magazine) put Victor on its front page. This French player, as tall as a giant, was even called an alien by LeBron James, a North Star in the basketball galaxy. The NBA thought that its values of competition, winning, emulation were unshakeable, but now the gods of basketball arenas wanted to test it.

Indeed, each NBA club will ask itself the question of its values this year, because to recruit Victor it will be necessary ... to lose as many games as possible this season. In the draft, the market for gifted basketball players from college or abroad who enter the NBA, there is a process of re-distribution inspired by a Christian promise. In the draft as in heaven, the first (clubs) will be the last (to recruit new talent). Yes, in the land of capitalism, the land of the highest bidder and where the winner takes it all, this redistributive principle has been introduced to rebalance the forces between the winners and the losers of a season in the recruitment of new prospects.

Will NBA clubs succumb to the temptation to sacrifice their season?

Thus, NBA clubs that are driven by deep values of competition, ... have an interest in taking their foot off the gas and not scoring any more baskets! Some ask themselves how to literally sacrifice the current season to have the chance to draft Victor and win in future the next seasons: the arrival of a player like Victor is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance that will not come back twice.

This temptation is real because Victor, like Lionel Messi, is a bit like the child prodigy that the NBA was waiting for. Out of nowhere and yet visible from afar, standing at 2.21 m tall with a 2.42 m wingspan, he breaks the norms codes. He is tall and fast, and this allows him to score so much that it becomes frightening. Obviously, this temptation to lose knowingly to gain an advantage in recruitment resembles the temptation that a company encounters when faced with an unmissable opportunity that is contrary to its stated values. Faced with this temptation, some will say NO while others will say YES.

In any case, each time values are shaken by the temptation to seize an opportunity, a reflection on one's real priorities is set in motion. When there is a conflict of loyalty between two polarities, when a tug-of-war becomes a tearing. The hesitation allows one to reflect on the new hierarchy of one's priorities.

What intention behind the transgression of values?

It is there that Victor, by his choice, will inform us of another element than the strict respect of the posted values. When he finally signs his contract, he will show that he is not selling his soul by accepting to offer his talent to the highest bidder. He will show that at 18 years old, he doesn't care about the endless debate between passion (guilty) and reason (honorable), between the "id" of the guilty hedonists and the "superego" of the unfortunate virtuous. He will tell us that he is concerned with something else: the intention of the clubs behind the transgression (or the respect) of the displayed values. Echoing Thierry Paulmier's book, Homo Emoticus, which distinguishes four life movements, Victor will perhaps ask himself what motivates the club above all, even to the point of deviating from its sporting values.

He may sign up with the club that is driven primarily by its struggle for survival and that is fighting its prognosticated death. Or he will choose a club driven by envy, envious of success and struggling to dominate the standings. Or, he will say yes to a perfectionist club that works to transform this sport into an art form to make history, a club where the beauty of the game is THE priority. And if not, why not join a club that likes to give and give beyond reason, for the love of the game: a club that sees the gift of self, the unreserved generosity towards its teammates, as the engine of its success.

The future will tell us how Victor, the chosen one of Generation Z that the NBA has been waiting for, chose between the drive for survival, envy, beauty or love. In the meantime, ma'am, if you're reading this post and fear that attachment to your values will bring you bad luck, I will tell you instead that values attract more than they repel. I would add, playing with words, that a compromise is not a compromission, that a misstep is not unforgivable and that an admitted fault is more than half forgiven.

Sincerely yours,


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