About the Founder
Raj Shah is the business starter behind the CheckBall Company. He is an immigrant from India, a citizen of Chicago and a student teacher in basketball, business and family matters.
About the CheckBall Company
The CheckBall Company was started to help people raise their basketball IQ. Our 2 websites, CheckBall.org and ECBAHoops.com, brings fans around the world — players, students, coaches, teachers, trainers, business professionals, non-profits — together so they can share the best of what they know.
Hey, I’m Raj.
At the start of 2015, I officially started the CheckBall Company in order to learn from and teach the game of basketball for a living.
At the end of 2014, I impulsively quit my full-time desk job, which was actually the coolest and the most rewarding career opportunity a 20-somethin’ year old young professional could hope for in Corporate America.
Why so irrational?
It’s not like I hated my colleagues, hated the work, hated the commute, hated the work-life balance or had a better job lined up. For most of the 2.5 years I was there, it was the opposite. So why would I leave a great job?
It’s not like I wanted a major career change like when people go from business to medical or legal or IT or any other realistic professions, where once you finish your studies, you could land a job with salary and benefits in that field. Basketball doesn’t have a career path like that. So why learn about a silly game, for a living? Aren’t I too old for that?
I never wanted to teach and I never played on my high school team, for a college team or pro ball experience. I just play at the park and gyms around. So what can I teach and why would any serious player want to learn from me?
These are the fair, tough and rationally real questions I’ve had to ask and even tougher to swallow have been the brutally honest answers. All things considered, the answers are no-brainers. The answers comes from the gut and the heart, as questions on the matter of love (not to be confused with passion or success) often do.
Cheesy, I know, but hey I’m an Indian in America. Cheese and paneer run deep in my arteries, let’s not pretend and act hard otherwise.
It’s easier to tell people ‘do what you love’ than to do it yourself
I realized that throughout my life, I loved learning, I just stopped doing it in high school and college even though these were the prime years of my education. As soon as I graduated, I picked up books again and now I can’t put ’em down.
I realized that in all my work experiences, the strongest sense of gratification came from when I was able to learn some things, share them with my teammates and apply ourselves in order to set and hit high goals without anyone in a suit ever breathing down our necks. I learned that teachers aren’t job titles, they’re positions of mutually accepted challenges in any field or subject that matters.
I realized that the field that matters the most to me isn’t Finance (my degree), it isn’t marketing (the last 5 years on my resumé) and it isn’t any new techno-centric field of the future: it’s the field of basketball, which I believe is a permanent source of endless questions, stories and ordinary genius – all of this intel is relevant to everyday, humble citizens in our world as it is to the greatest ball players, trainers and coaches of all time. I know this because I have dabbled in one thing basketball or another for the last 20 years in a row as a casual player and as a NBA fan, but now I’ve learned that there’s so much more to know than most of us actually do.
I love learning (and hardening my growth mindset), I love teaching (helping others develop their own growth mindset) and I love Chicago basketball (the creative outlet anyone of any age can plug into on the court and off of it, any time).
Yes, we have ESPN, yes we have Bleacher Report, yes we have RealGM forums, yes we have BallisLife, but no, we still don’t have enough coverage of the game itself. If we took the GOAT conversations, the highlight reels, the TMZ-like rumors about ball players and the Buzzfeed-style clickety headlines away, would you still love basketball? Ya, you would? Ok, what about it? Let’s talk about it and openly discuss these other hoops-heavy topics in the context of our own lives.
It’s way easier to look at a few headlines and cast immediate judgment on how overprivileged, how undereducated, how under/overrated NBA stars and teams are. It’s way easier to install a few apps and infinitely scroll a few timelines to consume content. It’s way easier to stay connected to the game as we age through video games.
As we get older, we quickly realize it’s too boring to talk about the fundamentals, it’s too awkward to talk about competitive greatness, it’s too hard for us older working people to even put your Jordans, Kobes or Roses on just to go shoot around for an hour or two. At first…
Most people will eat up all of the bite-sized content on the web, and falsely assume, they know everything there is to know about the game. And there’s a lot of truth to that, because before the internet, the average person read fewer stories, made fewer predictions, held fewer sports conversations. So yes, we’re a lot smarter because of today’s technology and apps and social media. But please, don’t confuse that for genuine basketball IQ.
Only after doing some soul searching and making some tough decisions did I realize my own basketball IQ was inflated.
I used to be a know-it-all, too. It’s funny, a few leadership skills I had acquired and learned from the game, by just following it and playing it over the years helped me thrive in my job as a manager. And yet, I was so blind to that fact, that I actually took more solace and pride in winning a few fantasy basketball leagues. Yeah, like my predictions had any control over real outcomes.
Because I have gone through this experience, I wanna help other basketball heads realize that their involvement has real-life value. And prevent them from selling themselves short by over-prioritizing the rationally “important” stuff and under-appreciating seemingly trivial sports and hobbies.
I believe that basketball is a multi-purpose tool that comes useful in school, in careers, at home, in community, not just for millionaires and billionaires, but for everyday people, equally.
If you feel similarly, I’d love your help.