David Hollander: How Basketball Can Save the World



Today on Legends Of Sport, Andy welcomes David Hollander, an assistant dean and clinical professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport!  In 2019, David introduced a humanities class called “How Basketball Can Save the World” which quickly became one of the most popular courses on campus and garnered international media attention. During the chaos of the pandemic, David saw basketball as a movement and invited key figures from the sports world, such as Walt Frazier, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, sneakerheads, current NBA and WNBA superstars and Hall of Famers, to speak to his class about basketball’s global and cultural impact. 

In his new book, How Basketball Can Save the World: 13 Guiding Principles for Reimagining What’s Possible, David moves beyond the classroom to present a new philosophy based on values inherent to basketball.  He introduces 13 principles for life and conflict as a tribute to James Naismith’s 13 rules of basketball.  In thirteen chapters, one for each rule, David breaks down the principles of teamwork, inclusion, isolation, adaptability, and more to basketball and beyond. 

Tune into this episode of Legends Of Sport with Andy and David to hear about the Naismith era of American life and basketball, youth basketball, courts during the pandemic, the global influence of the sport, street basketball in New York at Rucker Park, Barack Obama’s love for basketball, Bill Russell, Magic and Bird, the public art of courts and so much more!

Other Topics Discussed in this Episode

4:11    How the 2020 NBA bubble in Orlando brought out the best in athletes and revealed the purity of the game of basketball

7:12    The political and social climate in 1891, when James Naismith invented the game of basketball, in comparison to today

10:25   Why Naismith’s “social invention” is considered innovative for its time 

“Games before (basketball was invented) were reflective of the times. They were about domination…I’m stronger than you, I’m faster than you and the way I score is I run over you, through you…(Naismith) elevated the goal which required a different kind of athletic type. He insisted on a small space, he insisted on no running with the ball, which sounds, today we take it for granted, but that was actually a crazy idea, because he knew that if you couldn’t run, it would eliminate tackling. And then it would require the advancement of the ball through sharing, passing. This was, for a man with high spiritual aspirations…an expression of his spiritual dream for the world to be as he wished it was.”

16:15    The Ubuntu philosophy of the team, how Bill Russell exemplified this

19:00    The language of basketball; psychology, trauma, and recovery through basketball

32:00    The intersection of art and basketball and how basketball unites people from different backgrounds into a common space

“If I’m from an urban environment, and I go to a rural environment, there’s not a lot I have in common with those folks. But that basketball court, I get that. That’s the church we all pray at. Same for a rural person coming to an urban space, you see that basketball court, this is our common coat of arms. This is what, maybe, begins to close that (divide).”

35:08    Basketball also as a special language of friendship, as exemplified by Bird and Magic

40:50    The “Mamba Mentality” course at Emmanuel University

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