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Assorted Thoughts on Steve Jobs & Professional Basketball


NBA: Rich Guys vs Rich Guys

I’m in mourning today after hearing the news that the first two weeks of the National Basketball Association have been cancelled due to an impasse in contract negotiations. Crushed beyond belief. Why can’t millionaires all just get along?

No, seriously. You could have cancelled the first two weeks of every NBA season since the dawn of time and no one would have noticed. I would argue that, really, there are very few people in this country who care all that much about the NBA, except in April, but not usually until the final round of the playoffs.

But what is charming about the current labor dispute is the picture of grown men fighting selfishly over how many hundreds of millions of dollars to split among themselves. At this time, with the economic calamity that has befallen so many people, it is the perfect message for your sport to be sending to America: We Are Clueless About Your Pain.

Steve Jobs Contrarians

I have noticed that one of the most predictable trends in the world of blogging is the 2nd day contrarian viewpoint. This is the opinion that is forged by people way smarter and more clever than you and I who decide the initial consensus on any given story is too quaint or trite or too predictable, whether it’s valid or not.

Gawker recently posted an article on the “dark side” of Steve Jobs. He was mean. He once told someone at Apple their work was crap. He fired a project manager. Shocked, I tell you, I’m completely shocked. Why, he must’ve been the first successful media mogul in history to have been an SOB. Hey, I worked for Ted Turner. A visionary. A hilarious man. A great businessman. Check, check and check. Nice? Not so much.

And Andrew Sullivan published a reader letter today that says the notion that Steve Jobs changed the world is a ridiculous exaggeration. All he did was repackage existing technology and charge outrageous prices for it.

Let me give you just one example of his genius and how he changed at least the music world. Do you remember life before the I-Pod? Yes, others had digital media players but they were crap. Here’s what life was before the I-pod; CD’s. The genius was not just the simplicity of the device but the development of the business model that connected it to countless amounts of content: I-Tunes. By charging 99 cents a song, he singlehandedly saved the music business, even as the industry complained that selling songs for a buck was bad business. To the contrary, it saved the music industry from pirates who were giving the stuff away for free and artists were once again able to receive royalties for their work.

And by the way, I bought my I-Phone precisely because it was so integrated with I-Tunes and my song list and everything else you can get from videos to podcasts. So as the I-Pods become obsolete, the appetite for the technology is now transferred to smart phones.

We don’t even have to go into Jobs’ development of the first computers designed for use in the home. Or the first personal computers to connect with this thing called the World Wide Web. No, he didn’t invent the mouse, but he did make the graphical computer interface the world standard.

So Steve Jobs was no saint. He did not reinvent the world, just portions of it. He had a temper and he was single-minded and intense and ignored his kids and family for years and he said nasty things to his workers when they didn’t execute his vision properly and he wasn’t generous with his philanthropic giving. And blah, blah, blah.

I, for one, did not nominate him for sainthood last week. I just thought he had a hell of an impact on the world and certainly as much as famous innovators before him like Thomas Edison.

And he lived and urged others to live life as if every day was their last. Find me the contrarian point of view on that one. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

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