The Cleveland Cavaliers made American sports history in two major ways this month: they were the first team to ever wear sleeves in the NBA Finals, and they brought the first title to Cleveland in over half a century. And both achievements, it turns out, were bolstered by the wise words of the late Steve Jobs. ESPN reports that Cavs star and eventual Finals MVP LeBron James used Jobs' 2005 Stanford commencement address as a tool of inspiration to rally his comrades before their Game 3 bout against the Golden State Warriors team that was, at the time, leading 2-0.
It was because the Cavs collected a convincing Game 3 win that there was ever a Game 5, in which the Cleveland team showed off its sleeved jerseys. Two further victories and one more outing for the sleeves later, James was celebrating his third Finals MVP award.
The segment of Jobs' speech that James chose to focus on was the bit about the Apple co-founder and CEO randomly dropping in on a calligraphy class. It may have seemed unimportant at the time, but it gave Jobs an appreciation of the importance of good typography when designing Mac software, which eventually led to the elegant fonts and interfaces that we use in personal computers today. "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards," said Jobs. "You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." It was that simple message that James wanted to impart to his colleagues: a belief that there's more than one route to success and a faith in one's ability to adapt to changing circumstances.