The new general manager of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers is Rich Cho, former assistant general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Interesting career path, Mr. Cho’s, summarized by Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times:

Cho is an amazing story, and being the first Asian-American to hold this kind of NBA job is only part of it. Cho, 44, was born in Myanmar. His family moved to the United States in 1968 and settled in Federal Way.

He’s a graduate of Decatur High School and Washington State. After college, he worked for five years as an engineer at Boeing, but then he decided to go to law school. While working on that law degree at Pepperdine, he took an internship with the Sonics in 1995. He became a lawyer and worked his way up the organization.

Cho says he just didn’t see himself as a lifelong engineer, so he made the career shift, but we’d guess the analytical skills developed at WSU and Boeing has helped him engineer trades.

The Blazers are owned by someone who knows something about manufacturing too, Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. Software can lead to success:

After interviewing with team president Larry Miller in Las Vegas last week, Cho flew to Helsinki where Allen’s yacht, the Octopus, has been moored. That yacht is worth discussing further. It says here that some of the dozens of staffers on that boat are former Navy seals. And it has its own yellow submarine, two helicopters, a swimming pool, a basketball court, a bar you can swim up to from the ocean when the door’s open, and all kinds of smaller boats and jet skis stashed here and there. Spend some time with Google looking at photos of this yacht, and I think you’ll agree that there has never been any setting on the planet better designed to house a bad guy in a James Bond movie.

From Henry Abbott, ESPN/True Hoops.

Allan Sloan ponders the transition from manufacturing to sports in his Washington Post column today on the late George Steinbrenner, which chronicles Steinbrenner’s move away from the family business of shipbuilding.

Even though I’ve been a lifelong Yankees fan, I had never been a big Steinbrenner fan. I wanted him to keep his mouth shut, sign the players we needed to win and leave them alone to keep winning the World Series.

But my opinion of Steinbrenner changed somewhat when I realized he had put a serious amount of his personal wealth — it seemed to be more than $40 million — into American Ship without making a public display of it. “There is a sentimental attachment,” he told me when I asked why he was pouring money into the shipping business started by his great-grandfather. “When you grow up with ships, it’s in your blood.”

Things do change. But c’mon, Allan! George Steinbrenner’s career is not an example of “postindustrial America.” You know that’s too facile. Manufacturing represents 21 percent of the U.S. economy. It would be even more if Congress and the Administration were to follow the NAM’s “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and American Competitiveness.

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