Many people will commonly say “Basketball is just a game. It’s not life or death.” My sports management students can tell you that, in addition to being a game, basketball is also the basis for a lucrative business. But it’s still not life or death.
“The Other Dream Team,” a documentary Directed by Marius Markevicius, is a story of life or death. It is a story of what basketball meant to the survival of a people. In particular, it’s the story of how the 1992 Lithuanian men’s basketball team, whose athletes long struggled under Soviet rule, became symbols of Lithuania’s independence movement and, with the unlikely help of The Grateful Dead, won more than just a game at the Barcelona Olympics.
After I first viewed this film, one reaction among others was “Wow, I did not know about that.” At the conclusion of our special Tisch Center screening at Cinema Village (across the street from our home on 7 East 12 Street) on Friday February 22, so many students came up to me and said “Wow, I did not know about that.” What a joy it was to share that experience with so many who had the same transformative reaction I had.
More, the panel discussion on global basketball that followed the screening was like being inside a room with four influential people who will have very much to say and do about how basketball develops around the world in the next 25 years.
Brooks Meek, NBA VP of International Operations stated, almost as a matter of fact, that we would see an NBA “super-league” somewhere else besides North America in the next 10 years.
Kim Bohuny, NBA VP of International Operations and Brook’s boss, did not disagree with Brooks but added that NBA-related global opportunities for women’s basketball will, if she has her way, expand substantially.
Jim O’Connell, Hall of Fame Associated Press writer, humorously pondered the imminent demise of the NCAA and brashly recommended FIBA “get out the NBA’s way” and allow for the NBA to run global professional leagues.
I took special note of former NBA VP Media Relations Terry Lyons’ prediction that a wave of global “fantasy basketball” will presage the creation of a global NBA. I thought at one point they’d all join in a chorus of “It’s a Small World After All.”
By the end, one thing was certain from all panelists: global basketball continues to grow at a rapid rate with no end in sight. This means more professional opportunities, which means a broader global marketplace for sports business graduates. It’s amazing what you can learn in a movie theater on a winter Friday, especially if your part of the Tisch Center.