What’s More Important – Comfort Within a Team or Opportunity for Individual Growth? - The DeAndre Factor


Looking at different situations and being recruited, sometimes you can get enchanted with it all. There's nothing wrong with that. But you also have the right to look at it again and change your mind - Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers


This isn’t a trick question. It’s actually one of the most important questions that will guide your professional career in student affairs as it determines what you’re looking for in a position, or in the case of young NBA star DeAndre Jordan, what he thought he was looking for. DeAndre was in a situation not too dissimilar to what many of us have or will face. Even if you have no interest in basketball or sports, it’s a fascinating story told in detail here.

DeAndre (26) is a young professional who recently “came into his own” in his work as an NBA player, and found he was capable of doing more than being the third best player on his own team, he could forge his own path and be the superstar of his own team. There were definite perks to his current situation. He had a defined role that he was good at, had unwavering support from his head coach who built his confidence and made sure others knew of his exploits, and the benefit of playing with two other superstars.

But there were definite drawbacks to the position – he would never be considered the “featured” guy, in other words, there was a ceiling to how much he would grow in that environment and with his relevance to the team. He played with a demanding team captain, Chris Paul, whose harsh and brazen tactics were wearing thin on DeAndre. In short, his career had plateaued and he wasn’t feeling appreciated.

In swoops the Dallas Mavericks who court and dazzle DeAndre promising him everything he asked for, which must have been exciting and overwhelming for him. This was the first time he was being courted in such a way – like the guy who grows out of his awkward phase in high school and has to choose between his best friend who’s been there for him or the flashy girl suddenly giving him attention (i.e. the synopsis for Teen Wolf). Eventually, DeAndre verbally accepted Dallas’s offer, but had a sudden change of heart to return to LA.

At the very least, DeAndre, still young and impressionable, allowed himself to get swept up in the process, and the same will happen to many of you. You’ll be promised everything you asked for and feel wanted, but your head and heart have to work together on making the decision. I’ve gotten swept up in the promise, and unfortunately wasn’t able to go back like DeAndre. Few of us have that choice, which makes the time you start considering other options vital by thinking about a few factors.


The biggest school/department isn’t necessarily the best for you

They may offer the most in salary and amenities. Their big offices, on-campus living, dining options, and overall “wow” factors will dazzle you, but it’s important to keep perspective. How much of that plays into what you do and how you want to live (especially If you are a live-on professional)


The school that likes/wants you the most isn’t necessarily the best for you

Just because someone has a crush on you, you’re not obligated to feel the same way. They may see fireworks, while you may not see fireworks. The attraction should be two-sided. It may be flattering to be wanted, but you don’t have to buy everything that’s sold to you


The DeAndre Factor – what is your role on the team?

Is it most important to be in a position to have all your skills come to the forefront or are you comfortable in a niche role that you do well? It’s ok to not want more, to not want the former over the latter. The former brings more pressure and sometimes more risk. The latter brings stability and comfort. In short, the reward is whatever you want it to be.