Around a month ago, I found an incredibly insightful quote deep in the Reddit comments about a particular basketball player who had recently changed teams.

People who try hard to win first and foremost make it uncomfortable when people are trying to just have a good time and do well. And this is aside from whether they're assholes or not, unscrupulous or not. It's about win first vs chill first.

At some point, there's always a conflict between the two types. Someone has to chill, someone has to turn up the intensity, or someone has to leave.

- Source, minor formatting cleanup and emphasis added

Now, I'm not a particularly avid follower of sports. But this was a rather unusually fascinating case.

To simplify a very long story, there's a professional basketball team — the Philadelphia 76ers — that on paper have had a lot of really good players the last few years, yet have consistently underperformed expectations.

Last year, they traded for a player who is known as being super-crazy-hardcore-intense. That player was Jimmy Butler, who was an unheralded quite low draft pick (the 30th player chosen his year, meaning almost every team passed on him at least once) who worked very, very hard to turn himself into a star. 

He wasn't one of those players who was really good right when joined the League — he didn't start in pro basketball until he was 22 years old, and wasn't really good until he was 25. 

His career stats are here; you don't need to know much about basketball to see the trend of going from scoring 2.6 points per game your first year in the league, to 8.6 your second, to 13.1 your third year, to 20.0 your fourth year in the league is (1) someone who was not-at-all "anointed" or had an easy path for himself, and (2) showed really incredible year-over-year improvements. 

Eventually, Jimmy became a consistent All-Star.

Last year, he joined the Philadelphia 76ers.

And it didn't go very well.

Although much of the story is secondhand and hearsay, apparently Jimmy Butler didn't get along with everyone else on the 76ers. During a film session to prepare for an upcoming opponent, there were reports that other players were sleeping or goofing around and Jimmy shouted at them.

Jimmy would yell at people who weren't training hard at practice, get under his teammate's skins, etc. If anyone wanted to relax and refused to go full-out competitive in pursuit of being the best individual player they could be, the best teammate they could be, and giving their utmost towards every game — Jimmy wasn't having it. 

And the 76ers, by all accounts, had something of a "chill first" culture, despite having — on paper — really really good players. Anyway, much of this is hearsay but some of it isn't — obvious examples being when a coach publicly instructed one player who refused to follow instructions, a star player being noticeably out of shape and heavyset and suffering at the end of games, things like that.

Of course, these are still some of the finest athletes in the world — but the 76ers didn't have whatever that fanatic intensity that Michael Jordan was famous for, with all its advantages towards winning along with all its undeniable nasty side effects on stress and toxicity and lack of amicability.

Well, at the end of last season, Jimmy Butler's contract expired and he left the Philadelphia 76ers. 

He went from Philadelphia to a team that missed the playoffs entirely that year, the Miami Heat, saying he went just because the culture there was intense and he felt his intensity would be appreciated there. 

Jimmy Butler was roundly mocked for his decision. On paper, the 76ers looked like one of the best teams in basketball and the Miami Heat looked like a very subpar team.

Well, one year later, the 76ers just underperformed and were eliminated early again this year — and the team Jimmy Butler joined, Miami (which missed the playoffs last year)... is now heading to the NBA Finals as of tonight. 

There's no doubt in my mind that there's a lot of people more content than Jimmy Butler, more amicable than Jimmy Butler, way more fun to chill out with than Jimmy Butler... there's not a single doubt in my mind that there are very many downsides to that fanatic junkyard dog mentality, that it's incredibly stressful, often painful, risks destroying relationships and discordancy rather than the more guaranteed affability and amicability of "chill first, don't worry about it"...

... and yet, y'know, I saved this comment over a month ago, before any of this could be truly foreseen, since it seemed to sum up a point rather elegantly:

People who try hard to win first and foremost make it uncomfortable when people are trying to just have a good time and do well. And this is aside from whether they're assholes or not, unscrupulous or not. It's about win first vs chill first.

At some point, there's always a conflict between the two types. Someone has to chill, someone has to turn up the intensity, or someone has to leave.

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