Tite used the attitude of Cleveland Cavaliers icon LeBron James as the blueprint for the atmosphere and philosophy he wanted to develop in his Brazil squad.
Brazil turned to Tite after their humiliating group-stage exit at the Copa America Centenario in 2016 spelled the end for Dunga, who sidelined stars like Thiago Silva and Marcelo during his second spell in charge of the national team.
Former Corinthians boss Tite recalled Marcelo for his first match in charge away at Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier, while Silva – the captain during the Selecao’s ill-fated 2014 World Cup campaign – returned to the fold at a later date.
In a bid to bring his team closer together as a unit, Tite used basketball superstar James as an example of the environment he wanted to cultivate. Brazil went on to top the CONMEBOL section of qualifying and have won 15 of their 19 games under his stewardship.
“When we all convened before the Ecuador match, one of the first things we did was show the players a video from a basketball game, if you can believe that!” Tite said in an interview with The Players’ Tribune.
A month out from the World Cup, @CBF_Futebol manager Tite explains what goes into the decision to build his 23-man roster.
Full story: https://t.co/uVyoACvcRz pic.twitter.com/VchMhn7eYG
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) May 14, 2018
“It was from the NBA Finals when Cleveland played Golden State [Warriors]. And this one play was so beautiful to me, because LeBron James passes the ball to Kyrie Irving, and Kyrie takes a tough shot and misses it.
“But what does LeBron do? He is the superstar. You might expect him to be clapping his hands, saying, ‘Why did you take that shot?’
“Instead, LeBron was super focused. He fought to get the rebound, and then what did he do? Did he take it and shoot it himself? No, he passed the ball right back to Kyrie, and Kyrie scored.
“I told my players, ‘This is the kind of atmosphere we need here to be successful. Everyone fighting for one another, even the stars.’
“After the match [a 3-0 win], we were all in the changing room, and the players came close together and we started to pray to God. And I noticed that some of the staff and even the security guards were leaving the room, and I said, ‘No, this is for everyone. Let us all pray.’
“Everyone came together to pray, even the security guards. That was an incredible moment of emotion for all of us.”