Jeff Teague has a reputation for being quiet.
It’s true that Teague is usually reserved with the media, but ask his teammates and though the Wolves’ point guard may not be the loudest person in the room, there’s no doubt he makes his presence felt, both on the court and off.
“Jeff is not quiet. Everybody says he’s quiet. He’s really funny, he’s a real jokester, but in the game he does his job,” said teammate Taj Gibson. “Off the court and in the locker room he makes the locker room at ease with all his jokes and having fun. But he’s a professional, been in the league a long time, been on some good teams, but it’s great to have him in there some days especially when things aren’t going right.”
“I’m always having fun. I have fun on the court, in the locker room, I just don’t say much to the media,” said Teague. “I just try to stay out of everybody’s way and stay in my own lane, but I like to have a good time, I like to joke around.”
There are many ways to lead, and for Teague the most important thing is that he’s done a lot to back up what he says. Teague is a proven winner—he’s never once missed the playoffs and he’s taken on a variety of roles to help his teams make the postseason. If Teague tells you something, you listen. You’d be crazy not to.
“The credibility comes from doing the right things,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Often in our league you find guys that say all the right things and do none of them. It’s more important to be doing the right things, so your actions actually speak a lot louder than your words.”
Teague holds his team accountable. He’s not afraid to say when things aren’t going well, or voice his frustrations. He wants to win every game—preseason, regular season or playoffs.
Thibodeau often talks about building a winning culture, and there’s nobody better than Teague to do that. A huge part of culture setting is getting new members of the team on the same page. That’s rookies, free agents, anyone who might not yet know how the Wolves do business.
Gibson, another important veteran presence for the team, understands as well as anyone how important it is to have someone like Teague in the room—a guy who may not be yelling a lot or showing tons of emotion after every play, but who nevertheless is a very confident and consistent presence.
“It’s always good knowing that you got some guys that understand what it takes to win and work their tail off to get to the goals they want to have,” said Gibson. “And [to] have rookies look at guys like us and understand that we’re going to push you every day in practice, we’re going to make you better. It shows and we just got to keep going.”
Heading into his second year with the team, Teague’s comfort and familiarity with his teammates is far higher than it was last year. He knows where guys want to get their shots, he knows their tendencies and he has a better idea how to operate in Thibodeau’s system. Now the challenge is not just bringing the team together on the court, but building a brotherhood off of it.
“When you’re a tight-knit group, you care a little more on the floor,” said Teague. “That loose ball that’s out there, you’re going to dive for that because that’s your brother, that’s your teammate, you really ride with that person. If we can get that comradery on the court and off the floor I think that’d be good for us.”
Teams need many types of leaders. Some lead with their voices and some with their actions. Thinking about Teague’s presence is an important lesson in taking what we see in practice with a grain of salt. We might not see Teague’s influence but it’s there under the surface, keeping things light, bringing his teammates together and building the Wolves into a winner.