Yesterday, I named half of our Tech Dream Team; today, I name the remaining six and coach. Quick reminder: the basketball players are set by the London roster, so no retired players. Some of the best players (Dwayne Wade et al) are injured, so this isn’t necessarily the best possible roster.
Kevin Durant (F, Oklahoma Thunder) : Jack Dorsey (co-founder, Twitter, co-founder/CEO, Square)
One of the hardest workers in the game, Durant is a soft-spoken superstar, with the ability to take over any game he plays in. While he didn’t come from a traditional top-tier basketball school (Texas), he broke into the game and has established himself as a force for both now and the long haul.
Famous for his back-to-back workdays at Twitter and Square, Dorsey also didn’t come from a Harvard or Stanford, like many others on this list. But his creativity and work ethic has led him to the top of the game.
Durant and Dorsey don’t quite have the high profiles of James and Zuckerberg, and they’ve yet to establish themselves as champions. But by leading the young talent that they’ve surrounded themselves with, it’s become a foregone conclusion that their time is coming.
James Harden (G, Oklahoma Thunder) : Evan Williams (co-founder, Twitter)
Harden, possibly best known for his badass beard, is overshadowed by his all-pro teammates, but is young and supremely talented. While it’s yet to be seen if he can—or wants to—carry a team on his own, he’s a dynamic piece of a championship team.
Neither Harden nor Williams went to traditionally strong schools for their fields, but that hasn’t stopped them from reaching the top of their games. Williams and Stone aren’t as young as the Thunder core, but they have the same upstart mentality and cohesiveness as they fight more established teams for their first ring.
Russell Westbrook (G, Oklahoma City Thunder) : Biz Stone (co-founder, Twitter)
Westbrook and Stone both went to very strong schools (UCLA and Oxford) and have an intriguing mix of creativity and leadership. For Westbrook, this displays itself in a wide array of scoring and passing weapons that he has used to establish himself as one of the best young guards in the game. For Stone, it shines through in the wide variety of companies that he has co-founded and developed over the past decade.
The two teams’ trios all bring unique facets to the table and when all elements are clicking well together, they can be very fun to watch.
Kevin Love (F, Minnesota Timberwolves) : Drew Houston (co-founder/CEO, Dropbox)
One of the best young talents in the game, Love is overshadowed by his more established peers, who benefit from greater exposure. However, his skill set speaks for itself and he has positioned a strong, young team to be extremely competitive over the coming years. Love brought the UCLA Bruins to the Final Four as a freshman before being selected 5th overall in the 2008 draft.
Houston graduated from MIT and started Dropbox in 2007 with funding from Y Combinator. Last year, Dropbox was invited to Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference, which is kind of like being a NBA lottery pick. Like Love, Houston’s skills speak for themselves and he has a very talented team on a successful path. These two and their teams have a very bright future—independently and together.
Silbermann (center) works to keep up with giants like Zuckerberg (left) and Mayer (right). Zuckerberg and Mayer were named to the team yesterday.
Deron Williams (G, Brooklyn Nets) : Ben Silbermann (co-founder, Pinterest)
Williams is an exceptional talent, drafted by the Utah Jazz out of Illinois. He made waves last year when he was traded to the bigger-market New Jersey Nets. The team is now at a cross-roads. Gaining national headlines for their pursuit of Dwight Howard and move from Jersey to Brooklyn, the team is poised to rise to the next level. However, they have not attracted the top-tier talent—yet—nor do they have the playoff experience necessary to really do battle with the big dogs. The next one to three years will be crucial for the direction of his team.
Silbermann faces a similar challenge with Pinterest (which is also moving from Palo Alto to SF…not that I’m at all equating Palo Alto to Jersey). While the company has attracted a significant user base, many others have accomplished similar feats before failing. The next few years will be equally critical for Silbermann and his team as they attempt to gain traction and establish themselves as an upper-tier company.
Cook (left) drives to the basket as Silbermann (center) sets a pick on Kevin Rose (right). Not that Cook needs a pick to get past Rose. I’m pretty sure he has $500,000. Rose was named to the squad yesterday.
Chris Paul (G, Los Angeles Clippers) : Tim Cook (CEO, Apple)
Paul is the team’s point guard and leader. He directs the offense and is a leader on and off the court. Earlier this year, he stepped into a new role with a much larger spotlight and more pressure than he had ever experienced in his career. Like Bryant, all he wants to do is win; however, he doesn’t care if he’s shooting, passing, or on the bench. He’s a team first player who is trying to attract talent to come play with him, rather than joining Bryant or James.
Cook runs his company from the point as well, stepping into the Apple CEO role earlier this year. He has massive shoes to fill (obviously) but he is very talented and has led his team well so far. The real struggle for Cook will be winning a championship on his own, now that he no longer plays with one of the greatest of all time.
Mike Krzyzewski (Head Coach, Duke University) : John Hennessy (President, Stanford University)
One of the best leaders in his University’s history, Coach K is a Duke legend. With the most wins in college basketball history, the four-time NCAA champion, Hall of Fame coach is a spirited, respected leader, known for his personal relationships off the job as well as his hard work on the job. He has mentored young stars, like Kyrie Irvring, to older legends like Christian Laettner, who was the only college player on the ’92 Dream Team. While its apparent that he’s nearing the end of his time at the University, he still has several good years left in him and is gunning for another championship.
This was one of the toughest comparisons to decide upon. Should I compare the coach to an advisor? A VC Investor or Firm? Ultimately, I thought about Coach K’s role and influence in both the NBA and USA Basketball and found it most analogous to John Hennessy influence in Silicon Valley.
Hennessy became a Stanford professor in 1977, three years before Krzyzewski began his coaching career at Duke. He was the chair of Stanford’s computer science department from 1994-1996, Dean of the School of Engineering from 1996-1999 and has been President of the University since 2000. Countless talented entrepreneurs, including Page, Mayer and (technically) Ballmer from this list, have spent time at Stanford during Hennessy’s time. He also serves on the Google and Cisco Systems boards, among others. Experimenting with the future of online education and exploring an opportunity for a New York campus, Hennessy has shown he isn’t afraid to roll the dice.
Both coaches get the best out of their team, and both will leave a huge hole behind when they leave their schools.
Man, I wish I could invest in this team. But the competition is what makes it so fun. Sure, there are better teams than others. There are dynasties and there are awful teams. But the whole landscape can change in a few short years as new talent arises and established talent becomes complacent.
The league is all about watching the best in the world go head to head, going all out pursuing what they love, being friends off the court and bitter enemies on it.
It’s what the Valley is all about too.