Damian Martin taught me…

I appreciate that this is only the fourth blog I have written and it will be the third with a basketball focus but after watching the Perth Wildcats win the NBL championship on Sunday it was hard not to. It was an amazing team effort from a wonderful organisation that have set the standard for success in basketball in Australia, with 7 championships and 30 straight years in the playoffs.


However this blog is not about the team but it’s captain. The reaction of the 13,000 people at the Perth Arena chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP, MVP” when Damian Martin was announced as the Finals MVP for 2016, told me I had to write something. In writing this I know that Damian would be disappointed that I am singling him out. He prides himself on a team first mentality and sacrifices his own needs so that the team is successful. But, when 13,000 chant your name in hope of you winning an individual award you may get a feeling that you are doing something right not only as a player, but also as a person.


I unfortunately only know Damian through friends and people in basketball. However, I like many who watch the Wildcats, admire how he plays the game, and I feel that this young man deserves this write up. Listening to how friends speak about him he is a person of great character and strong personal values. This is what Damian taught me about leadership over the last few days.


Leaders must earn respect.

  • The crowd showed this at the end of the game when he was subbed out. The noise went up another level when he walked off court and in true Damo fashion he acknowledged this by waving to the people. This was again seen at Forrest Place on Monday, where the largest cheer was saved for him.
  • His team mates love him. The embraces at the end of the game showed this. Their reaction when he won the MVP award showed this. The way they speak about him when you ask what drives the team shows this.
  • Shane Heal even said “you have to respect Damien Martin for the way he plays and what he stands for” – this may have been the biggest compliment.


Leaders must be humble.

  • Immediately after the game his first response was how great the crowd and the city of Perth is. His second response highlighted that the New Zealand Breakers is an amazing organisation. Yes all well trained media responses you might say but still he addressed this first and gave them all credit.
  • His third answer about what makes him so good turned into the following
    • “Everyone has role in a team, mine is defense. Everyone here embraces their role. That is the reason we won today. Each of us do what we are capable of for the team, so we win.”


Leaders should be selfless.

  • In the press conference after the game he said the following about winning the MVP award.
    • “I am grateful that my name was called but in saying that I would’ve been just as happy if Jermaine, Nate, Matty, whoever it was had their name called.”
  • After the game he highlighted that it was everyone in the team who contributed and that no one dominated, it was a collective group performance and that’s what won the championship.


Leaders need to be people of great character.

  • After the game he highlighted how the team recruited amazing people, not players and that is why the Wildcats were so successful.
  • He acknowledged that some of the players in the team would be superstars in any other team in the league but have sacrificed this position to play in this team, to try and win the championship.
  • He thanked all players 1-12 and even the development players who come to training each day for being people of good character in his after game speech.


Damian Martin is a role model.

  • Again this was most evident awaiting the announcement of MVP as social media went into hyper drive with messages asking that Damian Martin be rewarded because of his play and because of the person he is. This has continued to be evident on social media over the last few days with comments, videos, tags etc. about how happy people are that a great guy has been acknowledged.
  • Then there is the highest compliment of all. My son today had news at school, which of course was highlighting the Wildcats victory. When I passed him his Beal singlet to wear it was met with a pause, and then he turned and asked his sister if he could borrow her ‘Marto’ one instead (sorry Jermaine).


One of the big challenges of being a successful leader is knowing who you are and what you stand for. In watching the media and Wildcats celebrations over the past few days it is clear that Damian Martin knows what matters. He is a leader of the highest quality, with great character and an amazing ability to get the most out of his own potential. I want to promote one of the good guys in sport who doesn’t get enough recognition because Damian doesn’t seek it, but he sure does deserve it.

Well done Damian and the Perth Wildcats.