Monday, July 17, 2017

LPGA Institutes New Dress Code

Paige Spiranac and Michelle Wie model outfits now banned by the LPGA. The LPGA winner this weekend showed a disturbing amount of face, hand and sometimes ankle, so I hope the Burqas will be instituted for next season. After all - if you cannot force women to be modest against their will, what good is having a religion?

Paige Spiranac Unacceptable #1 (plunging neckline, no sleeves)
PS Unacceptable #2 (same, and skirt does not cover shorts)

PS Unacceptable #3 - skirt does not cover all of "bottom region" when bending over.

PS Unacceptable # 4 -- various violations - also not a golf outfit.

Wie Unacceptable #7 -- shirt with no sleeves and no collar.

Michelle Wie violation #6 -- skirt is too short and does not fully cover leggings

Wie Unacceptable #8 -- no sleeves and no collar and possibly a plunging neckline.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Beautiful Night For an Old Story

It is a perfect night in Minneapolis, July 2017.  80.  Low humidity.  The kind of night where if it were 5 degrees cooler it would be cool and if it were 5 degrees warmer it would be too hot.  Having taken the dog on a 50 minute walk, my mind began to wander and I began to remember what I associated this weather with.  My answer was the county fair, August 1978.

So - the point of this entry is to offload some nostalgia and provide a story chock full of rural 1978 teen angst.  The point of the story is not to make you feel bad for me, though you may, and it isn't just another failed romance story - I was only 14.  It is a story that hopefully makes you remember your youth and simpler times and the feeling of a beautiful summer day.

Some background - I grew up on a farm in western New York. Before I was 14 I had two girls I really liked - one was the best athlete in the county and one was the best student in my school.  Both were kind to me, but neither had any interest in me. This became a tad more painful when my 11 year old brother became the boyfriend of the athlete's younger sister.

Growing up, there was a county fair every August in a small town (not the county seat oddly enough).  As best I can tell, the fair was located there because it had a sort of half-assed amphitheater wheee they could have tractor pulls and rodeos.  From the time I was six until I was 22 I used to go to the County Fair every August.

It seemingly never rained during the fair.  It was always 80 and dry, the sun shined just high enough during the day, and when it went down the fairgrounds always seemed very large and wonderful.  (They were neither, but it seemed that way).  Every day and every night spent at the fair featured picture perfect weather and seemingly endless possibilities for the young Hoops Maven.

In 1978, I actually had friends, thanks to my buddy John who befriended me one day in science class and put together an extremely motley crew of misfit smart kids whose primary entertainment was ripping each other and trying to stay out of trouble (we were nerds - we tried to stay out of trouble).  In 1978, my parents, armed with the knowledge that I had friends, would drive me to the fair and drop me off with $5, plus, I believe, a dime.   The dime was to call for a ride when I was done.  Pay phones, I am pretty sure, cost a dime.  I spent many great days at the fair. In hindsight, it really does not seem possible. By the time I was 22 I think I blew through all Fair activities in an hour.  But anyway, point is, I loved the fair.

On day 2 or 3 of the 1978 fair, I decided to play some carnival games with my $5.  Some were designed so you would lose (country basketball - tossing a softball into a heavily titled peach basket with a rubberized bottom).  Others were designed to have you pay 50 cents or a buck to win something worth 20 cents (dart toss - winner every time).  After weighing my options, I came upon a game where you threw baseballs at stuffed cats. Knock down 3 cats, win a decent prize.  The barker called me over and I won.  He yells out "Michelle, get him his  prize.  Out from the back comes a girl somewhere between 14 and 17 (I think she said 15 or 16, I do not recall, and I do not recall her actual name).  She was very pretty - in a Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers sort of way.  Just really attractive.  She winked at me and gave me my prize.  I smiled and left.

Later that night, as I walked around the fair with a friend she called us over - "hey, glasses kid, you can leave, I am talking to your friend".  She wanted to talk to me!!  Now, I cannot express clearly enough how excited I was.  I got warm, my heart skipped and then pounded, then I started sweating.  My friend was pissed.  I looked at my watch and told him I'd meet him by the Titl A Whirl in 10 minutes - probably like 9.  Still pissed. Anyway, the young Jennifer Lawrence chick wanted to flirt and give me a hard time for staring at her when she came out to give me my prize.

"So, Hick Boy, you like me?"  I ba da doh sol he.   "Huh?"  Look, I was completely flummoxed. It was humiliating.  I could not spit out a sentence. "Meet me here at the game tomorrow at 4. We'll talk.  I am lonely."   Well, OK.  Will do.  Now imagine if you were learning how to play little league baseball and a guy came up to you and said "you are starting at Yankee Stadium tomorrow".  You would know more what you were doing than I did.

So now I had to get my parents to get me there by 4.  Took a lot of convincing.  But mom came through.  "Gonna see your friends?"  Sure mom.  I strolled through the dusty midway heart beating about 150 beats a minute, until I reached the cat game.  There was Michelle, sitting on a white plastic bucket.  "Let's go chat, buddy".  So we walked, I kid you not, no more than 25 feet away and sat on a rickety wooden bench and talked about life.  She was from Buffalo and her mom had died and her father owned the game and made her work for him all summer until school started.  She hated the job. She hated her dad.  She really hated all the hicks who hit on her non-stop.  She liked me because I was "well....just so pathetic".  We talked and talked. We sat on that damned bench and talked. I told her I liked her.  She said thanks.  She wore a t-shirt and white shorts.  She was really pretty.

I asked her if she wanted to walk around the fair and she did. So I bought her a snow cone and we walked around. She asked my name and age and then said "so who are you?"   I don't know.  I just really do not know. I am a 14 year old kid way out of his league.  I said something.  It was terrible I am sure. I don't even recall. I tried.

At 6 she needed to go to work her shift, so she told me asked me to walk her back to the game and I did.  I took my dime and called my mom.  I sat on a bale of hay outside the talent show barn until 6:30 then went to the front gate.  "So, how was that?"   Fine mom.  I could have floated home.

Now, I always waved and said hello to the girl the next couple days that I went to the fair and she'd smile at me.  One of the days we agreed to meet at the bench at 7. I ditched my friends and sat at the bench at 6:57 on my watch.  At 7:25 I left the bench, after asking probably 15 passersby what their watch said.  The next day I went and played the game - she hid in the back. I walked around back. "Where were you?"   I had to work - look, buddy, I work.  I think you misunderstand our relationship.  I have like 3 boyfriends in Buffalo  "OK, bye".

I always hoped for a kind word or a handwritten note from her, never came. I continued to attend the fair. She continued to ignore me - occasionally tossing me a bone with a "hi Hoops Maven".  Hi.  That was it - fair ended.  Never saw her again

In my 53 years on this earth I have told that story once before. In 9th grade we had to write a "someone who changed your life in a short time" story.  I wrote two rough drafts - one about a teacher. And one about this girl.  My English teacher told me to go with neither. "The teacher one is marginally better, but the one about the girl goes absolutely nowhere."   I tossed them both and wrote a third story.  Got an A minus or some such thing.

I really have no idea why this story hits me so hard.  It did at 14-15 and it does at 53.  I guess it was the nice weather and the fair and the feeling of hope that a girl who looked like that would select me from a crowd.  Or that she she understood how damaged she was and how she needed to tell someone else who she deems even more pathetic about her problems.  I don't know.  I just know that I will always recall the joy of being called over and the anticipation of our meeting and the warmth of the sun and the feeling I got from buying that snow cone and walking by her.  And the let down of being let go.

All that triggered from a nice walk on a summer's day with the dog.

HM.  (Please excuse the typos - typed on my phone, which is not a pay phone).

Monday, July 10, 2017

More Jaye Marie Green

In 2015, I predicted by 2017 she would be a very highly ranked golfer and would be super hot.

One of two thus far.

Venus Williams - Not Guilty

It appears that Venus Williams, rather than being a murderer, was obeying the law when she was t-boned by another driver.

As shown in the video, Williams entered the intersection under the green light and then a driver coming the other way turned in front of her. 

Having already been in the intersection, Williams was entitled to continue through.  The driver coming the other way, in a bad habit that I definitely share, appears to be "timing" the green light so she did not need to slow down.  She smashes Williams' car, eventually causing the death of her passenger.

As many suburban Minnesotans clearly do not know when driving downtown, a person who gets into the intersection (and cannot, for example, turn left before the light turns red) can continue through.

The argument that the person suing Williams will have is that she acted negligently in getting into the intersection and/or not continuing through in a timely manner.  The video appears to contradict either argument.

Too bad Venus appears innocent,, because I was hoping Family Guy could do a clip like the one about Matthew Broderick.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Couple Favorite Post-Break Up Songs

Look, was I successful with girls/women when I was younger?  No.
Do I have a lot of pain over it?  Yes.  So when I hear a break-up song on the radio, it brings up all of those hard feelings again.  A couple favorites:

Avril Lavigne -- My Happy Ending:

Best Set of Lines:

 It's nice to know that you were there
Thanks for acting like you cared
And making me feel like I was the only one
It's nice to know we had it all
Thanks for watching as I fall
And letting me know we were done

"When There Was Me and You" -- From High School Musical

Best Set of Lines:
Now I know you're not a fairytale
and dreams were meant for sleeping
and wishes on the stars just don't come true.
'Cuz now even I can tell that
I confused my feelings with the truth
because I liked the view
when there was me and you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pre-Draft Thoughts

While the trend to pick "one and done" guys and foreign players makes evaluation difficult, here are my thoughts on the 2017 NBA Draft before it ever happens.

Guys I Like

1) I think the most talented player in the draft is Josh Jackson of Kansas.  He reminds me a lot of Andrew Wiggins.  Big guard or small forward, freakish athlete, hard to stop when he is motivated.  His weaknesses are also the same as Wiggy - not a great shooter, doesn't always play hard. 

2) Jayson Tatum, Duke -- I think the Celtics should prefer Tatum over Jackson.  They already have freakish athlete Jaylen Brown.  Tatum just seems more like a Brad Stevens player in the mold of  guys Stevens likes to play.  Tatum's primary weaknesses are that he is an average shooter and average ballhandler.  What people do not realize about Tatum is that he is an incredible all-around player (plus defender, plus rebounder, plus shotblocker, great hands, very good passer).  

One rap on Tatum is that he is a poor isolation player who tries to play too much isolation.  True - but if you are a good NBA team with a good NBA coach, you will figure out that Tatum actually is an exceptional complimentary player to your true superstars. 

I think if he goes to Boston he will fit in great.  If he goes to Phoenix or Sacto, and they try to run stuff for him, that will be bad.

3) Markell Fultz - never seen play live, but his highlight packages remind me of Allan Houston, smooth shooter, can drive, 85% athlete.  I do not see Fultz as a superstar.  I think only Jackson has the athletic ability combined with size to be a superstar in the LeBron/Durant/Kobe mode.

4) Lonzo Ball -- you have to wonder what happened against Kentucky, but overall, the guy is a big PG and seems capable of running an offense right away.  Magic appears to like him, and Magic should know PGs. The name Jason Kidd comes up a lot.

5) Zach Collins -- if you watch his highlight and lowlight packages, two guys come to mind -- Karl-Anthony Towns and Christian Laettner.  He can do everything you need to be done on a basketball court.  His only physical limitation is strength, and one hopes that this is something he could gain with age. 

6) Dennis Smith, Jr. -- to be a star NBA player, you generally need a special athletic talent.  Dennis Smith has unbelievable athletic talent and has decent shooting form (doesn't always go in), so he is definitely worth a shot.  Feast or famine type guy -- will he try?  What is his level of effort? You cannot be a little guy AND lack effort in the NBA.

Guys I Do Not Like

7) Lauri Markkenen -- I just cannot get over his inability to guard Xavier's awful big man at the key moment of that game.  He is a 7" shooter, which is fine if your team is extremely good and plays at such a rapid pace that he can get wide open shots.  I don't see many teams fitting that bill.  if you want a stretch 4, Houston is trying to give away Ryan Anderson.

8) Jonathan Isaac -- I saw Florida State play several games this year.  When I watched, he never stood out as a player on his own team.  That is bad.  When you watched Jayson Tatum play for Duke, sometimes he was good, sometimes he was bad, but you always knew he was involved in the game and doing everything he could to win.  Isaac from a talent perspective reminds me of a taller Corey Brewer.  I am sure you could get the original version for cheap.

9) Frank Ntilikina -- one scouting report stated that "he is so raw offensively that it is impossible to evaluate him".  Um, OK.  His highlights tape is him playing good defense, his weaknesses tape is of him getting stripped of the ball while bringing it up the court and of him shooting numerous airballs.  I don't think a defense-first guard who cannot be trusted to bring the ball up should be a top 10 pick.

Duke Guys and Kentucky Guys

Look, I am not going to lie.  I have a genuine distaste for Kentucky guys and a love for most Duke guys, so I cannot be completely objective (I did review KAT's video highlights pre-draft and recommended he be picked over Okafor, so in extreme cases I can be fair).

Monk and Fox -- I think you need to give them each the benefit of the doubt.  Calipari's guys have generally over-performed as pros.  I mean, even one of the Harrisons saw rotation time.  If you are sitting there and you cannot pick one of my top 6 guys I like, picking a Kentucky guy is always a good idea.

Kennard and Harry Giles  --    Luke Kennard is an excellent basketball player.  For his size he is a plus-plus shooter and rebounder; he can finish with either hand; he will move his feet on defense and is pretty strong.  He is going to struggle some with lateral movement, and I do not see him as a steals+blocks guy.  He may never be a starter for a good team.  But I think he could provide bench scoring and get extremely hot in certain circumstances.  Top 17 pick,.

Harry Giles -- great hands, great rebounder, can jump straight up into the air a long way, might actually be 6'10" in bare feet, very good FT shooter, has some limited post moves.

The HUGE question with Harry Giles is whether he can move laterally at all.  At Duke his out on the floor defense and interior defense were both virtually impossible to watch.  Can he stay on the floor against bench players and do enough to contribute?  I don't know.

If by some MIRACLE his knees get 100% better, there is so much potential there - you can see why he was the #1 overall talent in HS. 

VERY low #1; 23 or lower.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What NBA Player Has Had the Most "Good Games" and "Great Games" Since 1983-84?

If you assume that a "Game Score" of 15 is good, 22.5 is really good and 30 and better is great, here are your guys with the most of these games in either the regular season or the playoffs since 1983-84 (when's database starts).

Some observations:  1) if you assume Magic and Bird were denied about 4 seasons each by the database cutoff, and give them their averages per season, they still don't rank top 5 in any category (except Bird in 30+ games); 2) Michael and LeBron are clearly the two best guys; 3) Game Score stat appears to favor offensive players and disfavor players such as Duncan and Garnett; 4) 7 guys in the top 10 on all 3 lists - Karl Malone, James, Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Hakeem, Barkley.  5) surprising entries -- Nique????  not only present, but goes 16/14/15th place;  Kevin Johnson!  Chris Mullin!

I have always said that the belief that Steph Curry is substantially better than James Harden or Russell Westbrook (or has had a significantly better career) is not justified.  They are all very similar in my eyes.  Look at the "very good games" list - virtually identical.  On the "excellent games" list, Harden and Curry are almost identical while Westbrook trails slightly behind.  One would certainly be surprised that ESPN had Harden ranked in the 80s and Steph around 20.

* = Hall of Famer

Game Score 15 and above ("Good" Games):

1Karl Malone*F198620041190
2LeBron JamesF200420171045
3Michael Jordan*G198520031031
4Kobe BryantG19972016955
5Tim DuncanF19982016953
6Shaquille O'Neal*C19932011947
7Hakeem Olajuwon*C19852002918
8Dirk NowitzkiF19992017883
9Kevin GarnettF19962013854
10Charles Barkley*F19852000846
11John Stockton*G19852003831
12David Robinson*C19902003718
13Clyde Drexler*G19841998712
14Paul PierceF19992016668
15Patrick Ewing*C19862002666
16Dominique Wilkins*F19841999655
17Dwyane WadeG20042017653
18Reggie Miller*G19882005641
19Chris PaulG20062017635
20Kevin DurantF20082017631

21Magic Johnson*G19841996631 -- also played pre-1983
22Pau GasolF20022017621
23Gary Payton*G19912007617
24Allen Iverson*G19972010614
25Scottie Pippen*F19882004607
26Jason KiddG19952013601
27Carmelo AnthonyF20042017591
28Ray AllenG19972014570
29Steve NashG19972013558
30Larry Bird*F19841992542    -- also played pre-1983

Game Score over 22.5 -- "Very Good Games"

1 Michael Jordan*  672
2 LeBron James  648
3 Karl Malone*  575
4 Shaquille O'Neal*  491
5 Hakeem Olajuwon*  484
6 Kobe Bryant  464
7 Charles Barkley*  456
8 David Robinson*  382
9 Dirk Nowitzki  367
10 Kevin Durant 330
11 Tim Duncan  328
12 Magic Johnson*  327  -- also played pre-1983
13 Larry Bird*     323 -- also played pre-1983
14 Dominique Wilkins 313
15 Clyde Drexler*  312
16 Kevin Garnett  311
17 Allen Iverson* 305
18 Dwyane Wade  301
19 John Stockton* 291
20 Chris Paul  284
21 Patrick Ewing* 279
22 Paul Pierce  230
23 Carmelo Anthony  228
24 Tracy McGrady 219
25 Russell Westbrook  219
26 Stephen Curry  216
27 James Harden  216
28 Kevin Johnson  207
29 Vince Carter  202
30 Gary Payton*  200

Game Score over 30 -- "Excellent" Games

1 Michael Jordan*  305
2 LeBron James  186
3 Charles Barkley*  161
4 Hakeem Olajuwon* 152
5 Shaquille O'Neal*  149
6 Karl Malone*  148
7 Kobe Bryant  127
8 Larry Bird*  119  - also played pre-1983
9 David Robinson*  119
10 Magic Johnson*  99 - also played pre-1983
11 Dwyane Wade  94
12 Allen Iverson*  92
13 Clyde Drexler* 88
14 Kevin Durant  85
15 Dominique Wilkins* 81
16 Patrick Ewing* 77
17 James Harden  77
18 Stephen Curry  75
19 Chris Paul   69
20 Dirk Nowitzki  67
21 Tracy McGrady* 64
22 Russell Westbrook 62
23 Tim Duncan  61
24 Vince Carter 57
25 Kevin Garnett  56
26 Kevin Johnson 50
27 John Stockton* 50
28 Paul Pierce  46
29 Chris Mullin*  44
30 Carmelo Anthony 43 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Key "Game Score" For LeBron in the Finals -- Must Reach 22.5 has a stat called "Game Score" which generally indicates how much production a player has had in a particular game.  You include all of the player's statistics for the game, and they are then converted into one stat -- Game Score.

A decent player having an OK game should have a Game Score of 10.

15 is a pretty good night.

20 is very good

25 and above is excellent

Anything above 30 is noteworthy.  You can get game Scores way up in the 40s, 50s and even 60+ (3 guys - Jordan, Kobe, Karl Malone).

OK, so to evaluate what level of play is necessary for a LeBron James-led team to win a Finals game, I used the site's sorting mechanism and came up with some amazing information:

Game Score under 10 -- LeBron 0-3 in the Finals

Game Score 10-20 -- LeBron 2-10 (.167 winning percentage)

Game Score 20-22.4 -- LeBron 2 and 8  (.200 winning percentage).

Let's stop there.  It makes virtually no difference whether LeBron has a 10 or a 22.4 Game Score.  His team will not win those games except in the rarest of instances.

Game Score 22.5-25 -- 3-1 (.750)

Game Score 25-30 -- 6-1 (..857)

Game Score 30 and above -- 4-1 (.800)

This is really remarkable.  LeBron has won 17 Finals games.  13 of those where his Game Score is over 22.5.   Only 4 with his Game Score below that figure.

So - there is your cutoff.  Go to basketball-reference's front page tomorrow and it will have the 5 best Game Score's posted.  If LeBron is below 22.5, he almost certainly lost.  Above 22.5, he almost certainly won. 

According to this Site, a Game Score of 22.5 is basically 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, shooting 50% and 3 turnovers.  So that is your cutoff.  Better - LeBron almost always wins, Worse - he almost always loses.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Whose Butt?? European City Edition

Look, this is an easy one.  I am giving you the face also.  Clue - she used to date an allegedly reformed sex addict.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

LeBron James' Dominance In Playoff Win Shares

If you review the list below, you can see exactly how dominant LeBron James has become as an all-time playoff performer.  Currently, there is no one who has achieved 90% of his playoff WS.  (Jordan 89.47%).

Guys who have achieved 80% of his WS -- Jordan, Duncan, Kareem

70% -- add Magic and Wilt.

60% -- down to Jerry West

50% -- down to #16.

LeBron James 44.44
2.Michael Jordan* 39.76
3.Tim Duncan 37.84
4.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 35.56
5.Magic Johnson* 32.63
6.Wilt Chamberlain* 31.46
7.Shaquille O'Neal* 31.08
8.Kobe Bryant 28.26
9.Bill Russell* 27.76
10.Julius Erving* 26.89
11.Jerry West* 26.75
12.Larry Bird* 24.83
13.Scottie Pippen* 23.58
14.Dirk Nowitzki 23.13
15.Karl Malone* 22.99
16.Hakeem Olajuwon* 22.60
17.Dwyane Wade 21.54
18.John Stockton* 21.35
19.Kevin McHale* 20.67
20.Manu Ginobili 20.60

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Honor Student Banned from Graduation for Wearing Shirt

There is no doubt that part of what is occurring here is the current belief of people in positions of authority that they can never be questioned for anything they do.  This has become a common problem with school administrators, teachers, professors, and - in keeping with this Blog's typical content - referees/umpires.

When I was growing up and in school (1970-82) and when I used to play organized ball (1973-82) the people who were in charge would generally listen to you and try not to overreact.  Then came "zero tolerance" in schools and the teaching of officials/referees/umpires that you have to maintain absolute control at any cost -- just start handing out technical fouls and threatening to toss guys.  Don't improve your skills as an official, just assert absolute authority to be as shitty at your job as you want to be!

If you review the annual survey of players in the NBA, the two things that are consistent on rating officials are this -- 1) the best officials will engage with players and coaches and concede that it is possible that they did something incorrect; 2) the worst officials will never engage and will, instead, just hand out a ton of techs.

When my daughter got in a dispute with school officials in 2012, I called the guidance counselor, who was my stated person to contact.  He gave me the "Well, I cannot do anything, we have a rule...." speech.  I replied "You know, my dad was a guidance counselor, and he viewed his job as being the advocate FOR students.  And I know my dad would advocate FOR his student here and not simply throw up his hands and do nothing.  But I guess we don't care about students anymore."  The guidance counselor told me there was nothing he could do, and said, "I guess you'd have to call the principal."  Which One?  "Ms. ___________"   So I called Ms. __________.  Her secretary literally would not allow me to talk to her or set up an appointment to do so!  "That is a set policy, she won't be able to change that."  Well, can I speak with her?  "No."  Set up a time to speak?  "No."  My tax dollars at work!  The guidance counselor called me the next day and apologized for saying that I should talk to the principal.  "I should have never said that."  I told him he had done nothing wrong and it sucked that the school had made him fall on his sword.

In any event, my daughter's problem was solved when it turned out that the whole thing had been an error anyway, so she got what she wanted. 

Now, let me add this - my calls made the guidance counselor feel so guilty that he went to the School Board and worked to change the thing my daughter had complained about and......succeeded!!  So - note to Ms. _________ -- fuck you!  I won.

Anyway, Ms. Summer Bond's errors here:  1) she is far more attractive than the female principal; 2) despite being far more attractive, she failed to kowtow to  the female principal's every whim; 3) just go put on the fucking other shirt - you know you are dealing with a psychopath dictator, should you have to comply?  No.  But is the psycho ever going to be reasonable?  Nope.  Just go put on a new shirt so the psycho isn't so upset that boys are looking at your goodies while considering her as an old dried-up hag.


Friday, May 19, 2017

My Notes on the 2017 All-NBA Team

Voting summary (5 points for a first-team vote, 3 for 2nd-team, 1 for 3rd, 100 voters):

First Team All-NBA 2017

1. Harden received 100 first place votes, 0 second, 0 third, unanimous selection for The Beard.  Justifiable and well deserved,

2.  LeBron James 99-1-0 -- his 11th first team all-NBA selection, tying Kobe and Karl Malone for the most ever and surpassing numerous guys (including Michael Jordan) who had 10 first-team all-NBA selections.  His 13 first or 2nd team honors is also tied for the most all-time.

He probably deserves the one "didn't vote for him" finger poke in the eye b/c he took many games off and the Cavs were only 2nd best record in the East.  The first-team vote went to either Durant (who had 3) or Draymond Green (who had 2 at forward and 2 at center).

3.  Russell Westbrook -- 99-1-0 -- the other vote went to Curry -- I also cannot get too upset about that given Russ's ridiculous Usage Rate (an all-time high) and huge number of turnovers (#2 all-time to.....Harden!).  if you'd like your players to be less ball hoggy and let their teammates play, you may want to vote for Curry instead.

4.  Kawhi Leonard -- 96-3-1 -- Three votes went in some combination to Durant and Draymond.  Someone felt there were FOUR forwards who had a better year.

The feeling of Kawhi haters is he is a "system" player and the Spurs went 8-1 w/o him, so how good is he, really?   My general reply?  Some people are dicks.

5.  Anthony Davis -- 45-34-16.  Davis was left off 5 ballots completely and he only beat Rudy Gobert by 4 points (343-339).

Second Team All-NBA

6.  Rudy Gobert -- 43-38-10 -- the difference here was that, while Davis was left off 5 ballots, Gobert was left off 9 ballots.  5 more third-team votes would have given him the #1 spot.  Gobert is the #1 rim protector in the NBA, but basically a one-end player.  Interesting that the voters would rank him so highly and Karl-Anthony Towns (a mostly one-end player the other way) so lowly.  Given Gordon Hayward's pitiful showing, voters appeared to give Gobert virtually 100% credit for Utah's surge this year.

7.  Steph Curry -- 1-93-6 -- the only Second-team player to be on all 100 ballots.

8.  Antetokounmpo -- 0-81-15  -- this is far too high for the Greek Freak.  Media loves him more than the current state of his game justifies.  Left off only 4 ballots (Anthony Davis was left off 5)!

9.  Kevin Durant -- 3-66-26 -- was having a first-team all-NBA season before he missed 19 games.  Would have been interesting to see if he would have displaced Kawhi or LeBron,

10.  Isaiah Thomas -- 0-71-23 -- had a great year; but let's be honest, he is probably the worst player on the list of 15 and has the least trade value.  Still a proper choice - you vote on what the guy produces, not on his intrinsic value.

Third Team All-NBA

11.  Draymond Green -- 4-21-51  -- Draymond received two first-team votes for forward and two for center.  He should not get votes for center or at least after he doesn't win as a center his voters out to have to vote for a real center.  Does LeBron get votes for center?  He plays a fair amount of center when the Cavs go small.

12.  John Wall -- 0-19-68 -- got the most 3rd team votes of anyone.  Apparently NBA writers walk around doing word association of "John Wall?"  "Third team."

13.  Jimmy Butler -- 0-19-45 -- had a great year, well deserved.  Probably deserved even more votes.

14.  DeMar DeRozan -- 0-4-50 -- just squeaked by Chris Paul; Chris Paul probably deserved the honor more.

15.  DeAndre Jordan -- 3-17-18 -- it is amazing that you could make 3rd team all-NBA when 62% of the eligible voters did not believe you deserved to be 3rd team or better.

What this shows us is that there are a lot of centers in the league who received a lot of votes and the splintered voting allowed DeAndre to sneak in.  Consider this, however, why does DeAndre, the defensive anchor for a LAC team, record virtually the same as Utah, get 54 points worth of votes while Rudy Gobert gets 339 points worth of votes.  The two guys are virtually indistinguishable, and Jordan may actually be better.   He falls nearly 300 points short of Gobert?

Other Receiving Votes

KAT 50 points, 2 first-team votes
CP3 - 49 points
Marc Gasol - 48 points, 2 first-team votes
Boogie Cousins - 42 points, 2 first team votes
Paul George 40
Gordan Hayward 27
Hassan Whiteside - 18
Kyrie - 14
Klay - 14
Jokic - 12 points, one first-team vote
Lillard 12
Millsap 3
Aldridge 1
Blake Griffin 1
Al Horford 1

The worst set of votes are the two guys who voted for Griffin (61 games, 7.7 WS, getting worse as a player); and Horford (68 games, 6.3 WS, was actually a regular season disappointment). 

Hayward and George are not eligible for the "super max" contracts they could have received from Utah and Indiana respectively had they made a team.  Is Paul George a better player than Butler or DeRozan?  Sure.  But he didn't get the votes. 

The center voting was unbelievably weird.  9 first-team votes went to guys who were not 1st, 2nd or 3rd team all-NBA as centers:

-- Draymond 2
-- KAT 2
-- Gasol 2
-- Boogie 2
-- Jokic 1

Draymond's votes, as I stated earlier, should have been thrown back into the voting pot and re-cast.  He is not a center. 

KAT probably got screwed a little, since his team's sub-.500 mark and terrible defense (KAT's DRtg on is a dismal 110) led voters to discount his unbelievable season (12 WS, 25-12, 100+ threes).  But KAT is young and if this motivates him to work more on defense, I will be ecstatic.

Gasol is working off reputation now - he is a declining player.

Boogie seems to make his teams actually WORSE.  This hurts your chances to win post-season awards.  After Davis, he is probably the second most talented center in the league.  But geez, if you actually take a team and make it WORSE.....

Jokic's voter, I cannot really get mad at him or her.  I think a good argument could be made that Jokic has the greatest upside of anyone but Davis/Boogie/KAT and Embiid.  He is freaking enormous and highly skilled.  Now, does that justify a first-team all-NBA vote?  No.  But I see how someone might think it does.

Friday, May 05, 2017

How Do You Evaluate the All-Time "Best" Basketball Players?

In March and April of 2015 I listed my top 36 NBA players of all-time.

I was chatting with a friend the other day and he said, "You've ranked LeBron #4 overall, but you say he has an argument for #1.  Why don't you move him up?"

I will need to look at updating the list in April 2018, but my friend's comment really brings up the question of how, exactly, do you "rank" players?  How do you rank them across generations?  Are newer players always going to be listed higher due to nutrition, training, conditioning, etc.?  What rank do you assign to someone with a great but short career (example, George Mikan)?  Do you rank them based upon how great they were at their absolute peak (example, Tracy McGrady had a top 15 all-time season -- does he get ranked based on his peak ability, when he shined the most?)

In a prior item, I identified 10 common traits of an all-time great NBA player

1) Was regarded at his time as truly great; evidence of this would be all-NBA selections and top 5 MVP voting;

2) Was regarded as the best player in the game at least once, and, hopefully, on multiple occasions, as would be generally reflected by MVP awards;

3) Was dominant in some aspect of the game - teams needed to adjust their games to stop him and generally did not succeed;

4)  Was physically superior to other players;

5) Was well ahead of his time as a player/there simply were not players that did what he did at the time he did them (and possibly there still aren't today);

6)  Played a sufficient amount of time that his body of work can be considered not just a blip;

7) Was consistently excellent for a long time (this can be determined most easily by advance stats);

8) His playoff performance did not generally decline substantially from his regular season work (same);

9)  Led his team far into the playoffs on multiple occasions;

10) Won multiple titles.

But how, then, do you weight these factors?  Karl Malone was 1-4, 6, 7, 9.  Huge gap for 8 and 10.  So would a player like, for example, Chauncey Billups or Jason Kidd be a "better" player than Karl Malone? 

Similarly, if a player is recognized as many time all-NBA and an MVP candidate (cough, Dwight Howard) and he becomes a somewhat lesser player due to back issues....where does he fall?  There is no question that for a 6 year period, Dwight Howard was unbelievable.  George Mikan, likewise, was great for 5 years.  If we ignore Mikan's multiple titles, should he get REWARDED for playing so few years while Howard gets punished because people have to watch him struggle for 10 years until the gas finally runs out of the car?

I mean, had Johan Santana blown out his arm on his last pitch as a Twin, he is probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  By continuing to pitch with the Mets, he is regarded almost certainly as a non-HOF player!

So, what "method" do I use?  What weighting do I give these 10 factors?  Is Robert Horry (7 titles) a better player than Karl Malone (0 titles)?  Of course not.  How close, however, would Horry have to be to Karl Malone as a player to get the nod?  When would the 7 titles be enough?

Here are my thoughts:

A) The primary means of evaluating a player should be his ability to excel in regular season play.  After all, without good regular season play there can be no playoff play. It is also a far larger sample size.  Playing well over 82 games is far harder than playing well over 10-12-20 games.

B)  Next on the list has to be the perception of the player from those who watched him play.  I never saw Bob Pettit or Elgin Baylor play.  I do know, however, that they were deemed to be 10X first-team all-NBA.  George Mikan was named the best player in the world 1900-50.  You cannot ignore that fact.

C) Then I turn to advanced stats, which are an attempt to measure certain levels of play by assigning a number to them.  The greatest players generally have two things in common - a) they have huge single-season number; b) they have great longevity at a high level of performance.

D) It is at this point that you start looking at post-season play.  This is where guys like Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett and Karl Malone and John Stockton start to falter.  You will note, however, that all of those players are in my top 26 all-time, so I do not consider consistent playoff greatness to be a disqualifying factor.  It is, however, a factor and one that can impact how the player is viewed when lines need to be drawn on "is Tim Duncan a better player than Karl Malone?"  Since the goal of playing basketball is to win the title, you need to give Duncan the extra "plus" over Malone.

E) It is at this point that you need to be able to rely somewhat on personal observation (if possible) and sort of a 'feel" for who was better.  (That is why we have all of these lists).  I fear that many lists use this factor E almost exclusively as their criteria.  I mean, ESPN has guys like Iverson and Isiah Thomas and Bill Walton and Kevin McHale very high on their all-time lists.  There is really no objective basis for these rankings - they are almost purely subjective or based upon something that once happened in one game (Isiah scored a million points with a broken ankle; Iverson stepped over Ty Lue; McHale was impossible to stop in the post (he played with Larry Bird yet averaged over 25 ppg once and over 20 only 5X))  Walton's ranking appears almost cult-like.  Yes, he could perform all aspects of the game when healthy.  He was healthy for 1 1/2 years and mostly healthy for 1 Sixth Man of the Year award.  He has 39 career WS.  His career WS performance is similar to Tom Boerwinkle's).

So, I guess my criticism of most ranking systems is that they start with E, then go to D, then maybe include a sprinkling of A.   I'd say you set your base by looking at A, B, C and then use D and E only in cases of extremely tough calls. 

The bias in my method, I will concede is AGAINST the belief that a guy is great simply because he gets a lot of shots and makes some.  And it is biased against guys who have enjoyed great post-season success (Horry, Chauncey, are disqualified from a top 36 consideration before ever reaching category D).

But I think that is the way it ought to be done.

As far as the issue of longevity - I do award "points" for consistently great regular season stats and for all-NBA awards and MVP Award Shares.  All of these are a function of longevity.  Certainly a guy who was great for 15 years has to get a plus over a guy who was great for 6 years.  After you reach 9-10 years of good play, however, there are diminishing returns for playing longer.  But still some credit. 

And on the issue of whether a guy who gets, say, 35 WS one year (has never occurred) and then sucks for 7 years should be ranked highly, I'd say generally no.  The exception would be if the guy was seriously injured. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Favorite "Youth Basketball Parents" Stories

I coached youth basketball for many years.  Here are my 7 favorite "youth basketball parents" stories.

7.  "My Kid Can Score In Bunches" --  We had a kid who played "A" traveling ball in 5th and 6th grades.  Good athlete.  Dad was a college athlete.  Kid simply had no desire to play D, rebound, run the offense, pass, or anything else other than shooting.  So 7th grade traveling ball comes.  He is our last pick for the team of 10.  Halfway through the season the dad approaches us -- "Hey, my kid ought to play more."  Well, he has a LOT of deficiencies as a player.  "Like what?"  (List them all).  "Well, I disagree with that analysis, and he is a Great Scorer!  He can score in bunches."  Well, we need to see improvement in [list all deficiencies].  He never improved.

In 8th grade we left him off the team.  The "B" coach doesn't take him.  He ends up playing "C" ball and not starting for them.  Dad calls -- "It would have been nice to know what we needed to work on before this all happened...."

6.  "Should We Just Leave, Go Home?"  -- Coaching girls.  We are in the state tourney.  Win game 1, so we are now in the top 8 in the entire state.  Dad, "I'd like to see you guys."  Walk out to the other room -- "So, should me and my daughter just not come tomorrow?"  Huh?  "Well, she played about 35% of the game today, so if you don't need her, maybe we should just stay home."  Look, man, we have played your kid 55% of the game all year, today she just played less.  "Well, it is humiliating to just sit there and have her barely play!"  (He is screaming now.)  Do what you want, I guess.  Just let us know by midnight.

5.  You Should Make Your Players Be Nice to My Daughter!" -- Coaching girls.  Parent of a player comes up to me, "You know, I blame YOU for what is happening to my daughter."  What is that?  "Well, in school, your players don't include her and treat her badly."  How so?  "Well, they just don't include her."  In school?  "Yes."  When I am not around at all?  "Yes. So do something!"  (she is screaming, she stomps off).

4.  The Man Who would Be Coach (Secretively)  -- I am an assistant coach for boys.   Father every third game or so will come up to me, "You know, that isn't how you run a press."  or "You know, that isn't how you attack a 1-3-1."  or "You know, you'll never defend that play properly the way you are."  I'd reply that I had discussed same with the head coach and we were comfortable with what we were doing, but if he had good insight, he should talk to the head coach.  "That wouldn't do any good."  Do you have specifics for me to pass on?  "That should be obvious."  Kid played for us for 3 years.  The dad never once gave the coach a poor written evaluation.

(Runner up for this category would be the dad of the 5'4" non-athlete who became the C coach "cuz my kid never gets a fair shake from the A coach" -- his theory, stay with me, was that we A coaches took guys who were so bad they should play C, leaving too many good players for B, so his kid played C.   We were 4th in the state in A basketball in 8th grade, playing our group of C players.)

3.  "My Kid Should Play.....Always."  -- When we coached, we had "playing time rules" that said every player needed to play 1 1/2 quarters.  So, with 10 players, your worst 5 players had to play 37,5% of the time and your best five could only go 62.5% (if you dared to risk the wrath of the worst 5's parents (you generally just played them 50-50% and maybe in the last couple minutes played the better players in a close game)).  Anyway, in 8th grade we had a girl who was probably our 5th or 6th best player.  Her dad was a former college player.  Dad, "She has to start, she plays better when she starts."  Start her.  "She has to finish.  She plays better when she is allowed to finish the game."  Um, that isn't likely.  "Look, she has to start and finish."  We do that for 2 games.  "Why is she playing less in the middle of the game?  That is hard on her.  Do I need to speak to the varsity coach?"  We go ask the varsity coach to come evaluate her as a player.  He says, "She is maybe your 7th best player.  I don't care if you play her at all."  Dad says she will finish out the season, but we have ruined her life.  We finish 6th in the state.

2.  "Why Don't You Get a Ride Home From Those Nice White Parents?"  I wasn't coaching here, but my son was playing in 6th grade AAU on a very good suburban team.  Being a Minnesota suburban team, we were all white.  We go play a team from Minneapolis.  We absolutely drill them (like 65-30).  Walk to the parking lot.  Minneapolis dad sees my son, walks over, "You are a very good player.  Great game."  Well, how nice!  Dad's kid walks up to him in the same parking lot, and  Dad, not so nice anymore.  "I don't know what you are doing out here.  You got killed by the white kids.  You think I am giving you a ride home after that?  Why don't you go get a ride with those nice white parents.  Maybe they can teach you how to play basketball!?!?"  Kid is bawling.  I drive away.

1.  "My Son Is Logging the Minutes on the Bench"  -- we are playing in a 3rd grade boys tourney -- first one we ever entered.  We have had no practices, have no offense, no defense, no press, no press break, etc.  First game we lose 58-11.  Opposing coach "How many games have you played?"  Zero, well, now 1. You?  "37."  Next game we are halfway close, so I play the better guys a little more and we lose by only 12.  We have one last losers-bracket "friendship game" the next day.  Get a call at my house at 9PM.  "My son was logging the minutes on the bench and he says your son played 18 minutes and my son played only 12."  OK.  "Well, we are not coming tomorrow if you don't play those two exactly equal."  Um, well, I was trying to be more competitive and your son played a lot and....  "Nope, he kept a log of the minutes, and he didn't play equally.  Either play them all the same or we are not coming.......Well?!?"  Sure, it is a fucking 3rd grade friendship game, I will play them all the same.  "I will be watching!"    I never engaged the dad or the son in a conversation ever again.  If he said hello, I would be polite, but I never talked to him or his son voluntarily ever again.

I am sure there are more good stories, but those come immediately to mind.