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14 February 2009


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i like this part of the post:"If you like sports and stats, check out this NY Times article:" is verygood


I just read this article, and I have to agree that it's racially charged.

Jay Weiser, Assoc. Prof. of Law & Real Estate, Baruch College

It's also a great article if you like racist stereotypes and believe that nobody knew anything until statistically-minded sports types started running regressions.

Author Michael Lewis repeats the myth that sound fundamental basketball, such as diving for loose balls and taking charges, is "white ball," while flashy, undisciplined play is "street," or black, basketball. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, among many other fundamentally sound African-American players in the 80% African-American NBA before and since, would have been shocked to learn this.

The hero of the piece, Houston Rocket Shane Battier, apparently received the genetic code for "white ball" through his white mother. But the templates for the "street" style of play among NBA guards were the white Bob Cousy and Jerry West (both, however, fundamentally sound), while the template for the "white" guard style was the African-American Oscar Robertson. Tim Duncan, with his classic jumper, pick-setting and ability to hit the cutter, must be by this standard the "whitest" player ever.

Statistical analysis no doubt reveals detailed patterns of player strengths and weaknesses, but 40 and 50 years ago, Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics were consciously overplaying opponents to force them into their weak zones. Russell was famous for knowing the offensive tendencies of every player in the eight-team league, which was doable when teams played each other as much as ten times a year. Russell was interviewed many times on how, when he defended against his much larger opponent (and close friend) Wilt Chamberlain, he knew that Chamberlain would get his points, but his goal was to reduce Chamberlain's efficiency. Good defensive players, including Shane Battier, have done this ever since, so it's not a revelation.

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