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Jeremy Lin: A Player in the International Game

Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images from

Much is being written about NBA New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin. Some good, some bad, some controversial as an ESPN headline “Chink in the Armor” demonstrates.  But the bigger story may be missed.  In 2005, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman shared very relevant information in his book “The World is Flat.”  Friedman warned the NBA like many American industries was becoming “vanilla.”  Meaning, the players all look the same, similar to many boardrooms. This is very dangerous in a world where design and originality dominate.  Superiority was being replaced by mediocrity allowing more motivated people with different skills, dynamics and and dogmas to take center stage. Jeremy Lin is a US native and an amazing person bringing excitement and diversity to the game with an international flair. He’s unique like Spud Webb dunking back in the day. Webb was only 5’7″.

Friedman used the Olympics to make his case and point.  As international basketball players worked harder because they were motivated, they would bring diversity to the NBA.  Don’t miss what Harvard Professor, Dr. Clayton Christensen and his fellow researchers have to say about the motivation of American students in the book “Disrupting Class.”  Friedman talked about how some US NBA players didn’t listen to their coaches because the “player” became a celebrity.  Many are depending on showmanship and not skill. The players who are trying to succeed to help their families tend to practice more.  And as Friedman notes, more players will come from China, Latin America and Eastern Europe in the years to come. Jeremy Lin is of Taiwanese descent and a graduate of Harvard University.

Friedman goes on to say after World War II, America’s economy remained intact and for forty years thereafter. There weren’t any real competitors. It was an advantage with crippling effects now.  ”The members of the first generation are nose to the grind innovators; the second generation holds it all together; then their kids come along and get fat, dumb, and lazy and slowly squander it all. I know that is both overly harsh and a gross generalization, but there is, nevertheless,. some truth in it.” Those are Friedman’s words not mine.

Hopefully, Jeremy Lin will inspire all players in all games to improve their practical skills and not just their player cards.  Americans are now being forced to compete and to collaborate. With every article about race, an international message is being sent about our lack of respect for and understanding of various cultures. The need for collective intelligence is critical.  That’s a fancy word for diversity. In biology, species die for lack of diversity. The same will come of American companies and institutions without diverse contributors in all positions in the game.  The World is Flat shows how the World is now connected digitally, virtually and instantaneously.  America’s issues are on display for the entire world to see. Bottom line, it’s time to stop focusing on race (it doesn’t exist anyway) or we’ll lose the race (place as a Super Power). Americans, are you game?