The NBA All-Star Game and the Heart of Human Communications

February 16, 2008 - 1 Comment

This weekend marks Cisco’s second participation in the NBA All-Star Game. As it takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, it takes on a twin importance for us: both global and local.We share the NBA’s commitment to the revitalization of New Orleans and the Gulf region — we, through our 21st Century Schools Initiative (21S) and the league through its NBA Cares program — still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Secondly, we share a vision of sports as an ultimate venue where technology can dramatically enhance the total and global experience of sports.And for many of us, our identification with sports begins in childhood and spans our entire life: from the soccer fields, blacktops, sandlots and schoolyard venues of youth to metaphor of work/industry competition to the persistent personalization of a lifelong fan.While sports can be narrowly reduced to athleticism, it is so much more about teamwork and collaboration. No less a management expert than Mike Krzyzewski,”Coach K” of the Duke Blue Devils basketball program (and coach of the U.S. Olympic Basketball squad) notes: “effective teamwork begins and ends with collaboration-people want to be part of a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good.”Having gotten to know the NBA quite well over the past year, I can let you in on a little secret: NBA Commissioner David Stern and Cisco CEO John Chambers both know the next wave of the Internet is about Human Communications and Collaboration on a massive, global scale unlike anything we have seen before.The power of sports and technology is not a North American phenomenon, but a global one. Why is it that both Cisco and NBA have recently announced ambitious multi-billion dollar plans to expand in China? Perhaps it something to do with the number of Internet users growing in China as well as the growth of basketball (today, over 300 million people play basketball in China).While upwards of a billion people will follow the All-Star festivities -the NBA has over 70 international players and its programming is seen in over 215 countries in 44 languages -this weekend’s blending of technology andsports is more about localization than globalization. It is about our support for the people and the city of New Orleans, a city characterized by an open, friendly culture, the heart of a classic music form, Jazz, and the crossroads of cultures, where the great Mississippi River flows into the Gulf.Technology can play a role in helping New Orleans get back on its feet: it is a great leveler for education and commerce. Or as NBA Great Bill Russell once said:”the idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.” Technology can dramatically connect a community to the world on an amazing scale.As we saw earlier this week at the GSM event in Barcelona, every screen fixed or mobile, will be connected to the Internet, striving to integrate the experience of video, The next wave of the Internet, powered by Collaboration and driven by the compelling experience of Video, is changing how we relate to sports, soon allowing us to experience the power of sports collectively. Even if we are thousands of miles apart, we will soon watch a game together and argue and laugh over our favorite players and teams.Post by Alan S. Cohen, Vice President Enterprise and Mid-Market Solutions

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  1. I love the NBA All-Star Game and thank Cisco for their participation……….Cisco values community involvement