How Would Jeremy Lin Fare in a Pickup Game in Beijing?

By James Fallows

A 20-something American now working as a translator in China sends this report:

Having lived in Beijing for five years now, I've played in more than my share of Chinese pickup games. Something that becomes obvious very quickly is that people here--especially young people--model their games more on the Kobes of the world than the Nashes. While you will sometimes see someone who's a willing distributor, or someone who has an outside shot, many times pickup games here quickly degenerate into a series of dueling "drive-to-the-hoop/rebound/kick-out" possessions. Setting picks is rare, the pick-and-roll is even rarer, and the concept of spacing on offense is practically non-existent (actually, now that I think about it, I'm probably doing Kobe a disservice. At least he knows how to come off a pick!).

Why? One of the Chinese micro-blog users you quoted cites the system as the main reason why China has yet to produce a great point guard. I completely agree. Despite the prevailing stereotype of "collectivist" Asians, in basketball, at least, people here aren't taught how to function as a team. And it shows on the pickup court. Or at least it does in Beijing (You harp constantly on China's diversity, and you're completely right on that count. Maybe they ball it up differently in Guangzhou!).

Just part of expanding the data-set on how "Asians" bring their special, spatial perspective to ball sports.

The other notable aspect of this message, of course, is that the reader has evidently been away from a native-English environment long enough that he says "harp constantly on" when he means "devote admirably consistent attention to." Otherwise, excellent note!

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/02/how-would-jeremy-lin-fare-in-a-pickup-game-in-beijing/253209/