Ideas. Cities. Social Innovation.

My latest:

While a segment of people who follow the tournament are fans of college basketball itself (or of specific teams), for many, the tournament itself is the draw. As a product, it is well defined, and its facets well understood by the audience. Casual fans are surely familiar with the alliterative names for different rounds – Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four. The opportunity for people to latch on to teams (especially lower-seeded underdogs) creates greater viewer engagement, especially when many of the key players turn over on a year-to-year basis.

Mr Lin has quickly amassed a huge following among Chinese basketball fans (and this country does love basketball). This poses a bit of a conundrum for Chinese authorities for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that Mr Lin is an American who is proudly of Taiwanese descent, which would seem to complicate China’s efforts to claim him (and oh how they have tried already—on which, more below).

But there are three other reasons Mr Lin’s stardom could fluster the authorities. First, he is very openly Christian, and the Communist Party is deeply wary of the deeply religious (notably on those within its own ranks). Second, he is not a big centre or forward, the varietals which are the chief mainland Chinese export to the NBA, including the Mavericks’ Mr Yi; and of course he came out of nowhere to become a star, having been educated at the most prestigious university in America, Harvard.

The real blessing in disguise of Jeremy Lin schooling the NBA: It isn’t merely the notion that undrafted Harvard graduates can overcome obvious profiling by general managers and scouts over what colleges prospective point guards should play for and what they should look like.

No, it’s that maybe now that there is a bona fide American Asian star to make us see the overlooked and often covert racism less-famous people of his ethnicity have forever faced in sports and beyond.

As a 9-year-old son of immigrants, I was claiming Reggie and, through him, this country. Every time I imitated his explosive swing, every time I adjusted my glasses like he did, with a thrust of the chin, a touch of swagger, I imagined that my family had been American as long as the Yankees had. Such an act of imagining, in its own little way, is what any of us means when we call ourselves “American.”

When a player comes out of nowhere, as Jeremy Lin has, it’s understandable that the casual fan or commentator will take an if-smoke-then-fire view. It’s why, when sportscasters and fans see a player hit several three-pointers in a row, they tend to attribute that performance to the hot streak. But when it comes to streakiness in major American sports, the hot streak is smoke and mirrors, not fire.

“What we’re seeing [with Lin] more than anything is opportunity,” Gilovich says. “He was getting no playing time before, so he couldn’t have done this. It seems like a very nice mix between coach, coach’s system, and player.”

All that—aside from a few straggling lawsuits — is done now, and the Barclays Center basketball arena is now taking shape at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, with its grand opening set for this September. (The first act: a concert by Jay-Z, to be followed by the arrival of the newly minted Brooklyn Nets.) Almost everything else about the project, though, has changed. “Miss Brooklyn,” the 500-foot office tower that was supposed to anchor the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush, has been scrapped. The 6,430 units of housing—2,250 of them at “affordable” rates, though many critics have noted that most of the discounted rates would still be well out of the reach of most Brooklynites—are uncertain, with no groundbreaking set for even the first tower. Both Gehry and his designs are gone, replaced by a cheaper building that features a facade of rusted steel girders in place of the legendary architect’s glass-walled plan.

"We are just not as smart as we think we are," said Bill James, the statistician and author who inspired Billy Beane of "Moneyball" fame to choose baseball players by new standards.

(…)

"We buy into simplifications of the universe which give us the illusion of understanding," he wrote in an email. "Those simplifications — computer models, adages, homilies, religions, philosophies, experience, etc. — are very often just dead wrong."

I can not agree with this more:

On the surface, ball hogs and endless meetings might seem unrelated.  Research, though, indicates that players chucking shots at a basket and people prolonging a meeting with endless comments may actually be a function of something similar.  Specifically, how do we know someone is “competent”?

Could Jeremy Lin become the NBA’s Tim Tebow (as a cultural phenomenon)?

With the ING Miami Marathon backing up traffic Sunday, fans were advised to see alternate routes to get to Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James took that advice to heart.
Rather than driving, James biked about 40 minutes from his house to AmericanAirlines Arena before Sunday’s game. James said he had biked to games “a few” times before.
“You guys drove here?” James asked media after the game. “You guys are crazy.”