While we Americans preach that “there is no I in team” and say we want to see teams function as a unit, we are still a nation that allows the individual a lot of freedom. We give the individual a lot freedom.
The Chinese culture is much more focused on fitting into a group dynamic to be successful.
Enter J.R. Smith, who felt pain in his knee in the fourth quarter of his first game in China with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls, then left his team to seek his own medical advice (the injury turned out to be minor). We in America are tolerant of that, even though teams have access to fantastic medical facilities.
In China, leaving the team like that is a defiant act. And the response from one team official shows that, as he suggests Smith may have been faking it, as reported by Niubball.com.
“Everyone saw the pain on Smith’s face after he got hurt. Compare that to the results of his exam. We’re all intelligent people, we should all know what’s going on here. When you compare his performance on the court with the game’s final result, you’ll realize. When he was injured, would he have had that big of a reaction [if the score was closer]?”
“Our team’s overall attitude is very clear right now. The team is a collective; we don’t depend on just one person. We’re still going to go out and play basketball, no matter who is absent from the team. No one is indispensable. We play as a team. We will not be affected by one person.”
Smith said he wants to stay with the team, but clearly there needs to be some tolerance and understanding on both sides. Smith has frustrated coaches on a couple continents now, but in China he is going to have to give a little more to make it work.