Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Microsoft top dog heads for professional sports. Is Mr Gates next?

If you were to ask me what Microsoft and the NBA [the National Basketball Association in the US] had in common a little while ago, I would have probably just looked at you funny. But since the NBA announced their formation of NBA China, they have decided to dig into Microsoft’s pockets [skills pockets, not financial pockets] and appointed Microsoft Greater China CEO Tim Chen as CEO of NBA China. Yes, I know the NBA won’t be competing against Microsoft in the computing field anytime soon, but its interesting to see that they’ve managed to lure away a key player in such an …. unrelated… industry.

I can’t help wondering whether Mr Gates himself appears on the list for potential NBA Commissioner replacements after current Commissioner David Stern retires... [I bet you were picturing Mr Gates playing professional football or ice-hockey. Sadly, I don't have photoshop to add a pic of what that could look like]

With most of the known world flocking to the hugely appealing Indian and Chinese markets recently, its not surprising to see professional sports also taking the leap. As it stands, China has not only provided the NBA with one of its tallest superstars ever [Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, standing 7’6 tall], but now also provides its greatest growth opportunity as a new market.

According to the article above, Tim Chen has a sparkling history in corporate China, as Microsoft sales grew more rapidly in the Greater China region than in any other market in the world in his time there, and before that he helped Motorola become the leader in the competitive Chinese mobile phone industry. It will be interesting to see how Tim handles a career in professional sports and whether he can repeat these past successes there.

[Yes its true, I’m writing about this because I love basketball and the NBA, and have done so since I can remember. And for this reason, I have to drop a note about the South African link to one of the best players in the NBA…for those of you who aren’t aware of South Africa’s influence in one of the world’s greatest professional sports, here’s a little known trivia fact – Steve Nash [currently with the Phoenix Suns] was the Most Valuable Player in the NBA for two consecutive years [2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons], following in the footsteps of greats like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley. Steve was born in Johannesburg and spent several years here while his dad played professional soccer. He later moved to Canada, and is now sadly billed as Canadian. So while it is officially a Canadian that was the NBA MVP two years in a row, we know better – he’s South African!]

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