Had a great trip to Chicago for the Nike China Think Tank. I was amazed to learn just how many people there are in China – 1.341 billion vs. the US at 310 million – and how many Chinese play basketball – 345,000,000. Yes, you read that correctly – there are 345 million people playing basketball in China. That is more than the total population of the United States!

The top 10,000 – just a fraction of the entire number of players – are the elite players, referred to as “playing with a whistle.” Their games are organized and officiated. Everybody else – the vast majority of players – play just for fun and enjoyment. There are lots of one on one, two on two, three on three games and not so many five on five games.

There are several organizations serving that top sliver of 10,000 players. There is the China Basketball Association, the CBA, their pro level. The China University Basketball Association, CUBA, is just getting off the ground. The China High School Basketball Association, CHSBA, is mostly sponsored by corporations like Nike. The China Junior High Basketball Association, CJHBA, is also just in its infancy. Like a lot of businesses, Nike views China as the next great frontier.

Here are more intriguing facts about China:

  1. The first basketball game was played in China in 1895.
  2. Basketball was declared China’s national game in 1935.
  3. Ninety-five per cent of all Chinese basketball is played outdoors.
  4. China has the world’s second largest economy and is closing in fast.
  5. The Chinese economy is growing at 9% per year.
  6. There are more English-speaking people in China than in the United States.
  7. There are around 7 billion people on earth – 10% of these speak Mandarin; 5% speak English and 5% speak Spanish.
  8. China is trying to control its population with a ‘one child’ rule.
  9. There are real cultural differences between China and the US that need to be appreciated and addressed as we Americans think about Chinese basketball. I call this “one culture, one game.”

The meeting was tremendous. The participants were authentic in their desire to help.

How to Face Big Challenges (like Nike in China)

1. Give yourself some time.
Five to ten minutes before you begin to think about the problem.

2. Get away from your usual place of work.
Shift your way of thinking.

3. Set yourself a target number of new ideas.
Five is the minimum.

4. Press the ‘mute’ button.
Don’t say, “I’m no good” or “I’m not creative” or “I can’t come up with five ideas. Believe you can.

5. Ask yourself some powerful creative questions. This will open things up. Here are some of my favorites:

  • If you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What’s the easiest thing to do?
  • What’s the boldest thing to do?
  • What’s the fun thing to do?
  • What’s the counter-intuitive thing to do?
  • What’s the safest thing to do?

6. Start shaping a solution.
Take the best idea or ideas and start planning how you’re going to do what you’ve decided to do.

So … What’s possible?

Note: This was quoted (mostly) and paraphrased (partly) from a post by Michael Bungay Stanier of boxofcrayons.biz via George Raveling.

Besop’s Thought
I have been a fan of Aesop’s Fables for many years. As a result, I developed Besop’s Thoughts as they relate to basketball.

Boy, I Wish
Boy, I wish I could get my teams to run like Rupp’s team could.
Boy, I wish I could sit on the bench and be as patient as Wooden.
Boy, I wish I could get out of a practice what Coach Knight could.
Boy, I wish I could run a half-court set like Bo does, or get as much out of each player as Coach K does. But I am who I am and they are who they are.

Moral of Besop’s Thought: Do not wish to follow in the footsteps of the great coaches. However, seek what they sought in your own way.

Quote of the Week If you want to change others, people will see that and want to change you. If you want to change yourself, other people will see that and want to change themselves.

Image – © Forgiss – Fotolia.com

If you like this post, please share it with others, using the buttons below.