Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tyus Jones in 2017-18 is having a Weird and Wonderful Season

If you review this list of player seasons:  http://bkref.com/tiny/o6JKA you will see the seasons by guards/guard-forwards/forward-guards that are the most similar to Tyus Jones' 2017-18 season (so far).  There are not many.

Tyus currently through 555 minutes has the following stats:

Offensive rating - 126
Defensive rating - 109
Net Rating - +17
Usage rate -- only 10.9%
Assist-to-turnover -- 5 to 1
Steal to turnover - 2 to 1
True Shooting Percentage .596

A player who is a pretty normal player who you want to go to offensively is around 20% Usage.  Jones, remarkably, has an Offensive Rating of 126, a good True Shooting Percentage, is shooting 47% from the field, 43% from 3, and 83% from the line and is in the top 10 in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.  Yet he almost NEVER has the ball!!! 

This is the sort of statistical work you would generally see from a big man on a good team who only sees the ball when he is dunking it (of course, that player generally will not have a 5 to 1 assist to turnover ratio).

So, when you sort things out to get rid of big men, who do you generally see?  You see guys who played on really, really good teams and who virtually never made a mistake while on the court.  They contributed a ton in very limited touches.  Some examples:

Steve Kerr with the Jordan Bulls
John Paxson with the Jordan Bulls
James Jones with the LeBron-Wade Heat
Thabo Sefolosha with the Durant/Westbrook Thunder
Fred Hoiberg with the really good Wolves team of 2003-04 (Garnett/Cassell/Sprewell)
Iguodala for the 2016-17 Warriors

(Side note - MY LORD was Fred Hoiberg a good player for the 03-05 Wolves teams!  In 3100 minutes of play he had 11.3 WS, that is roughly low all-star level of play).

The only guy on the list who played for a losing team was Pablo Prigioni who played for the 2013-14 Knicks (but they had Carmelo a high usage but low performance player - you cannot have a Jordan Usage Rate and not be very good; it kills your team).

Anyway - Tyus Jones's stats are consistent with all of these good contributors to all of these good teams (and Prigioni, who apparently is the exception that proves the rule), but they don't really match up to anyone in particular.

Example - Hoiberg and Iguodala have some similar stats (assist to turnover, steals to turnover), but certainly no one would compare these 6'5" players to the 6'2" Jones from an overall "game strengths"
standpoint.  TR Dunn was a defensive stopper, Ron Harper was used in the same manner, same with Thabo.  And while Kerr and Paxson kind of remind you of how the Wolves currently use Tyus (small guy forced to go stand around and not do much unless the ball falls to him under 6 seconds on the shot clock) and they were high percentage shooters with great assist to turnover ratios, Tyus is on a pace to have 100 steals in far fewer minutes than Kerr had 67 steals and Paxson had 49.  (Prigioni had around a 1-1 steals to turnover ration).

Final side note - how about T.R. Dunn!!!  101 steals to 26 turnovers in 82 games!  How rare is that?  Pretty freaking rare -- http://bkref.com/tiny/ImaNb and http://bkref.com/tiny/hFZ51  It just does not happen.  Guys do not have seasons like that.  How rare is it to play a guard with a shockingly low Usage Rate because he gets steals?  Very, very rare -- http://bkref.com/tiny/NcTDc

So, my point?  Tyus Jones has been great.  He is having a very weird and wonderful season, and since Thibs seems intent on never letting him play 20 mpg (and since Jeff Teague's defensive indifference will almost never put him in foul trouble) it is likely that Tyus will put up a huge bench season that will make him another person on the list of great limited-minutes contributors to great teams.  (Or he could be Pablo Prigioni, but God let's not go there).


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Larry Bird Is Overrated as a Playoff Performer.

Look, first of all, I want to state what no one on Twitter seems to understand - saying someone is "overrated" is not the same as saying someone "sucks."  It is also not the same as saying (for an active player) any of the following:  "I'd cut him" "I am giving up on him" "Trade him for nothing."

"Overrated" means exactly what the word says - people "rate" (value) this person "over" what his actual value is in some category.

With Larry Bird, the overrating comes in the fact that he is evaluated as an all-time great clutch player in the playoffs when, in fact, the players he is believed to be the equal of (Jordan, LeBron, Magic, Kareem, Shaq) were far superior to Bird as playoff performers.

Larry Bird's career WS/48 in the regular season is .203.  This is excellent, top 20 all-time. 

His regular season VORP is 10th best all-time (9th if you exclude Dr. J's ABA years).  Again, remarkably good. 

Now, Bird has to be marked down some on the all-time list for his lack of longevity.  For example, he has 145.83 career Win Shares, 27th best all-time.  The two guys below him are Ray Allen and Gary Payton.  The two guys above him are Robert Parish and Paul Pierce.  This, of course, can be explained by the fact that Bird was almost 23 when he debuted in the NBA and he suffered a bad back that hampered him after April 1988.  Bird really only had 9 great seasons.  Again, those who rank him as a top 10 player apparently fully discount this fact and just use his best years.  OK, but where is George Mikan then?  Mikan had 6 great seasons and 5 titles.

Anyway, I digress.  Let's examine Bird's playoff performances, starting with the great.  In 1984 and 1986, Bird was the Finals MVP and he had the following great seasons:

1984 - 26 PER, 4.7WS, .236 WS/48, 2.9 VORP

1986 - 24, 4.2, .263, 2.4 VORP.

In 1981, the Celtics won it all, but Cornbread Maxwell was the Finals MVP and Bird went 22/3.1/.198/2.0

Bird has no other playoff season above .155 WS/48.  He has only one season (1987) over 3  playoff Win Shares.  His career WS/48 in the playoffs is .173 - well below his regular season marks.

If you look at Bird's THREE BEST playoff seasons, and search for similar seasons - Chauncey Billups has as many as Bird (3) and Kevin Durant has more (4).  The guys with whom Bird is always compared - LeBron, Michael, Magic, Shaq, Duncan, Kareem, Hakeem all have better stats.

Guys who aren't exactly known for playoff performance (Karl Malone, Chris Paul) appear on the list just below Bird.

In fact, if you consider basic math, Bird's .173 WS/48 in the playoffs actually gives him too much credit.  Bird had 3 seasons where he was very good and NINE where he was not particularly good.  Averaging out his three really good seasons wasn't that helpful to his teammates who suffered through his 9 subpar efforts.

If you review Bird's overall performance in the playoffs against the 20 other guys who have at least 20 playoff Win Shares, http://bkref.com/tiny/Tj0my Bird does not rank at or near the top in ANY statistic other than Free Throw Percentage.

WS - 11th
WS/48 - 14th
Points - 9th
FG% - 13th
3 point % - 10th
Eff FG% - 16th
TS% - 13th

What you see when you analyze Bird's career playoff performance, is that his playoff career was FAR from a top 1 or 2 career, certainly nowhere near a top 5 career.  Rather than comp-ing to LeBron or Jordan or Magic, Bird's nearest comp is Dwyane Wade or Dirk Nowitski.  Certainly these guys are both great playoff performers, but no one would ever assert that they are in the top 5 players of all-time. 

So - why is Bird so overrated:  1) great name, 2) the Boston PR machine for basketball is completely unmatched - it placed both Walton and McHale in the top 50 all-time of NBA players when neither deserved a mention based upon their resume; 3) for a stretch of 1984-87 it was "Bird versus Magic" so everyone links the two men and assumes their resumes are the same; they are not.  Any fair review of the two players' playoff careers shows that Magic was the better player.

So, when I revise my Top 36 list in April of 2018, you will see that Larry Bird is still not in the Top 10.  The actual numbers just do not justify that level of placement.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

What We Can Learn by Using the Stat "Game Score" to Evaluate Players

There is a stat called "Game Score" that is designed to evaluate the overall production and efficiency of a player on a game-by-game basis, using their stats.  https://captaincalculator.com/sports/basketball/game-score-calculator/

While the commentary to the above link indicates that 10 is a good "Game Score", my review of various games (and a review of the top 5 Game Scores posted every day on www.basketball-reference.com is that a starter who has a good (i.e. just above average) game generally has a Game Score of around 15.  In addition, my review of LeBron James' Finals history (posted elsewhere on this blog) indicates that a very good Game Score for a game is 22.5.  If you have a 22.5 Game Score, you are generally a top 5 performer in the NBA on a given night.  If you have a 30+ Game Score, you have had a great night.

You can achieve negative Game Scores (see my last blog entry) and you can achieve Game Scores over 60.  So, there is a wide range.

What does Game Score not capture?  Well, as you might expect, it does not capture any positive or negative play that cannot be statistically captured in a box score.  So, if you are a terrible individual or team defender, your Game Score will overrate you. If you are a great positional defender but don't get a lot of steals or blocks, your Game Score will underrate you. For example, if you look at a list with a lot of minutes played but poor Game Scores you'll get guys like Shane Battier, Raja Bell, Bruce Bowen, Charles Oakley, Joe Dumars, Derek Fisher. Defenders who didn't get a lot of steals or blocks. These are the sort of players likely to be underrated.

The guys who will be overrated?  Guys who are excellent offensive players but sieves defensively (particularly if they get a steal and a block a game).  So, Game Score is not a perfect statistic. 

BUT if you look at the list of guys with the most 15+ Game Scores (post 1982) you are going to see guys who rank very high on most all-time lists and who played a long time:  http://bkref.com/tiny/gsRcw

What Game Score will definitely tell you is the guys who played super hard every night and were productive every night. 

For example, the king of the Game Score is Michael Jordan.  if you look at Game Score greater than 22.5, Jordan has 567, LeBron 551, Karl Malone 524. 

But if you go to Game Score efforts of greater than a 30 Game Score, it gets even more heavily unbalanced in Jordan's favor.

10th Place - Magic 85 games
9th Bird 108
8th Kobe 112
7th David Robinson 114
6th Shaq 124
5th Hakeem 130
4th Karl Malone 139
3rd Barkley 142
2nd LeBron 151

#1?  Michael Jordan -- 257  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!  So, if you took LeBron and Bird combined, they'd have 2 more great regular season games than Jordan.

Similarly, in the playoffs, Game Score over 30 is again owned by Jordan

Duncan 14 games
Kobe 15
Wade 17
Bird 18
Barkley 19
Magic 20
Hakeem 22
Shaq 25
LeBron 32
Jordan 48.     So add LeBron with Kobe and you still have one less great game than Michael.

It should be noted, however, that if you set the bar at 22.5 Game Score, LeBron becomes the playoff king

Dirk 51 games
Karl Malone 51
Bird 57
Duncan 59
Kobe  62
Hakeem 68
Magic 72
Shaq 80
Jordan 105
LeBron 113.

One thing we learn from Game Score reviews, LeBron James has played at a high level for a long, long time.  His consistency as a great player will almost certainly place him #1 on the all-time Game Score >15 and Game Score > 22.5 lists for both regular season and playoff and NBA Finals.

Jordan, on the other hand, simply played at a level so high that no one else, even LeBron, challenged him for either great individual games or for most season games with a great Game Score (30+).

Look, for example, at Jordan's dominance here:  http://bkref.com/tiny/pVqQj  and here:  http://bkref.com/tiny/yqLer

Jordan also had a season where he had 80!!! games with a Game Score of at least 15.  if you watched Jordan and wondered whether he was going to have a bad game..........he wasn't.

So, if you take this list and you ask for the top 60 most consistent seasons of very good play every night, what you see out of those 60 seasons, is that Jordan absolutely dominates the list, but dig a little deeper and you see:

of the top 60 seasons, 11 guys have one super season full of consistently great games (Ewing, Dantley, KG, Curry, Davis, TMac, AI, Love, CP3, Wade, Westbrook).

3 guys have 2 such seasons (Magic, Kobe, Durant)

3 guys have 3 of the top 60 seasons (Barkley, Hakeem, Harden)

3 Guys have 4 such seasons (Shaq, Bird, David Robinson)

1 Guy has 5 (Karl Malone)

James has 8
Jordan has 9.

And what all of these Game Score lists tend to show us is that since 1983-84, Jordan has been the best player, then there is a gap to LeBron, then there is a pretty big gap to anyone else (Barkley, Karl Malone, Shaq, Hakeem).

This "Jordan Gap LeBron Gap" becomes less pronounced when you look at the NBA Finals - http://bkref.com/tiny/5OKrE and http://bkref.com/tiny/eZoj4  Jordan and James become virtually tied and Shaq and Magic burst way up and become in the conversation as well.

When you use Game Score to evaluate a player, it is pretty safe to say that the best players generally put up great Game Scores.  The two guys probably hurt the worst by the stat are Duncan and KG and the two guys probably helped the most by the stat are Nique and Iverson. 

Guys definitely on a run in the past few years?  Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Anthony Davis   .http://bkref.com/tiny/a13hJ  and the old man, LeBron James.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The 10 Worst Single-Game Statistical Efforts in the Past 35 NBA Seasons

I was watching Kris Dunn's 1-11 stat line last night and thinking "God, Kris Dunn isn't very good." But then I recalled that Kris Dunn's Game Score of Negative 2.2 was FAR better than a number of Game Scores I have seen when reviewing games. 

So, I asked myself, based upon our database from our friends at www.basketball-reference.com, what are the 10 worst Game Scores achieved since those folks compiled the records (starting in 1983-84).

Well, here you go:


The key cutoff mark is a Game Score of Negative 9.1.  If you are better than that - too good to be on this list.  Some key events here --

1) Only 3 of these 10 guys made a shot from the floor. 

2) No one on the list made (or even attempted) a free throw.

3) In the 10 games at issue, these guys committed 51 turnovers.  The BEST performance on the list for turnovers was D.J. Augustin who managed to commit 4 turnovers but played 32 minutes.

The worst?  Delaney Rudd turned the ball over 6 times in 9 minutes.

4) Foul trouble - a lot.  Hollis Thompson, Delaney Rudd and Darius Miles played 50 combined minutes and fouled 16 times.

5) 3 players (Rudd, Nash Augustin) failed to get a rebound.  Thurl Bailey did get 8 rebounds to lead this group   But that solid work was overcome by his 5 turnovers and 2 for 20 shooting.

6) D.J. Augustin gets the "best" Game Score of Negative 9.1 despite virtually no production in 32 minutes (0 of 8, no FT, 0 rebounds, 1 assist).

7) David Wesley has the all-time worst Game Score due to his 0 for 13, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 TO and 4 fouls performance. 

8) There are guys on the list who had all-star appearances -- Steve Nash and Tom Gugliotta,
Nash was 37 years old and Gugs was 22 when their terrible games occurred.  As you will see below, Gugs also had another terrible game that almost made the list.  When Gugs was bad to start a game, he never got better during that game.  You were better off sitting him.

9) The 20 year old Larry Hughes makes an appearance - he goes 0-6 with 6 turnovers in only 12 MP.

10) David Wesley's Negative 11.7 Game Score is the worst in 35 years, but his 0 of 13 shooting effort only reaches a tie for 5th worst in the past 35 years.

0 of 13 - Wesley, Gugs (in a different game!), Maxwell, Leavell, Stanley Johnson, Vince Carter, Gerald Wilkins, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Favors, Metta World Peace

0 for 14 - Dino Radja, Junior Bridgeman - both had some slight amounts of production in other areas to avoid the "10 worst Game Score" list.

0 for 15 - Rodney McCray - (Game Score helped by 8 boards and 8 assists)

0 for 17 -- Tim Hardaway, Sr. (in a win versus the Timberwolves, where he also had 13 assists) -- Game Score only Negative 3.2

Remarkably, in David Wesley's terrible performance, his team held the opponent to 78 points and actually won by 2 points and Wesley's "plus-minus" was a +2!!!  By contrast, in Nash's loss,. he was a negative 22.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Can We Please Stop Saying Dwight Howard Doesn't Belong In the Hall of Fame! Dwight Howard Belongs in the Hall of Fame

The Timberwolves recently played the Charlotte Hornets, and the Timberwolves' announcer asked a poll on Twitter - is Dwight Howard a Hall of Famer?  The results were roughly 50-50%.  This, folks, is insane.

Let me state, quite simply, that Dwight Howard (unless he kills someone or engages in Harvey Weinstein type behavior) will be in the basketball Hall of Fame.  He is easily in, and it is not close.

There are guys in the Basketball Hall of Fame who have never been 1st team all-NBA.  Dwight Howard has been first-team all-NBA 5 times; He has been on the all-NBA team 8 times. 

Guys who haven't been 5x First-team all-NBA:

Dirk, Russell, Havlicek, Stockton, David Robinson, Kevin Garnett.  These are some of the 30 greatest players of all-time, and they don't have the First Team All-NBA cred of Howard.

Guys who were great, great NBA players who certainly deserve to be in the HOF --

Elvin Hayes
Bob Lanier
Kevin McHale
Bob McAdoo
Willis Reed
Dave Cowens

None of these guys have anywhere near the level of all-NBA selections that Dwght Howard has.

Now, let's say that the argument is that Dwight Howard was playing against no one - he basically was the best of a bad lot of centers.  Well, then let's examine his worth versus actual Hall of Famer Yao Ming.  Howard defeated Yao for first-team honors in 2008 and 2009. 

Continuing on -- Howard was 3rd team all-NBA as a Laker, and 2nd-team all-NBA as a Rocket! 

For raw stats - there are 13 guys in the history of the NBA who have over 16,000 points and over 12,000 rebounds.  http://bkref.com/tiny/jF06P  They are all in the Hall of Fame or will be in the Hall of Fame. 

Dwight Howard was the Defensive Player of the Year three times.  Three times!  Best defensive player in the NBA at ANY position 3 years.  First-team all-defense 4 times.  His 99 career Defensive Rating places him in the top 10 of players who have played since 1984.
On defensive presence alone, Howard is in the HOF.  And he certainly has been a FAR better offensive player than guys such as Dikembe Mutombo or Alonzo Mourning or Dennis Rodman, all of whom are in the HOF.

With about 2,800 more career rebounds, Dwight Howard will end up in the top 8 all-time in rebounding.  He currently has the 4th best Rebound Percentage in NBA history.

He will end up in the top 35 in Win Shares and the top 65 in VORP.  He finished in the top 7 in MVP balloting 5 times, top 5 4 times, and he finished 2nd in 2010-11.  Guys with fewer MVP Award Shares than Dwight Howard (all with stars are Hall of Famers): 

Billy Cunningham* 1.081
39.Spencer Haywood* 1.079
40.Willis Reed* 1.048
41.Doug Moe 1.006
42.Derrick Rose 0.981
43.Kawhi Leonard 0.980
44.Alonzo Mourning* 0.968
45.Jason Kidd 0.933
46.Artis Gilmore* 0.918
47.George Gervin* 0.905
48.Bob Cousy* 0.872
49.Tracy McGrady* 0.855
50.Dominique Wilkins* 0.845
51.Gary Payton* 0.823
52.Dwyane Wade 0.793
53.Clyde Drexler* 0.778
54.Zelmo Beaty* 0.767
55.Dolph Schayes* 0.730
56.Scottie Pippen* 0.716
57.Sidney Moncrief 0.695
58.Wes Unseld* 0.655
59.Bernard King* 0.625
60.Jimmy Jones 0.608
61.Chris Webber 0.588
62.Charlie Scott 0.582
63.Dan Issel* 0.576
64.Elvin Hayes* 0.572
65.Grant Hill 0.529
66.Bob Lanier* 0.527
67.Bill Walton* 0.522

Basketball-reference.com places his "Hall of Fame Probability" at 99.2%.  This certainly makes sense when you consider that Chris Webber (see above) was a Hall of Fame finalist LAST YEAR and his stats are nowhere near Dwight Howard in any way, shape or form. 

Webber - 85 WS, 17,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, 1,200 blocks, 1X 1st-team all-NBA, 5X overall
Howard - 121 WS, 16,000 points, 12,000 rebounds, 1,900 blocks, 5x and 8x

The only real arguments against Howard are that he came in at the end of Shaq and before the recent wave of great centers, so he wasn't actually THAT good, he was just good by comparison.  He also isn't a great offensive player, so if you look at A-TO and stats that are more offense-oriented, he isn't that great either.  If we are going to go that route, then we really need to figure out what great defenders and rebounders get in (Rodman, Mutombo, Mourning) and which get left out (Howard apparently).

The true reason many people hate Howard is that he left Orlando (where, by the by, he led them to an EC championship) and went to L.A. (who people hate).  In a rare 1-2 punch of hatred, the Lakers fans ALSO hate him because they thought he'd bring a 6th title to Kobe and instead Kobe hated him so much that he regularly called him soft.  Then Harden hated/blamed him for Houston's playoff failure.  Now he is dumped into Charlotte.

While Howard can certainly be blamed for never developing a great set of offensive moves, he did have 5 season where he scored over 18 ppg and his career FG% is over 58% (8 years with FG% over 59%).

Anyway -- haters gonna hate, but there is no objective argument for saying Dwight Howard is not a Hall of Fame player.  He is.  And I believe he should be a first ballot guy as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Being 25 and Optimistic Versus Being 53 -- Learning How the World Works

When I was 25, I got my first lawyer job.  I was a very smart kid, and I believed that the world was run by intelligent people who would see my skill set, accept my various quirks, needs and limitations, and I would take the world by storm.  I was as bad as any stereotypical Millennial you read about today. 

I was disabused of all of my notions of how the world worked pretty quickly.

Here were a few of the things I learned during the five years I worked for my first law firm 1989-1994:

1) People pay a LOT of attention to how you dress and present yourself.  I was voted "worst dressed" in my law school graduating class.  I was always told growing up that it made no difference how you looked, it was your merit - your intelligence, your wit.  This is and was false.  Whenever I dressed poorly, it was commented upon by my superiors.  Few people enjoy your wit.

2) It really mattered A LOT who you knew.  I gravitated toward very intelligent attorneys who I was very impressed with -- they were very good at their jobs.  We won virtually every case we ever had.  I was told about 2 years in, "Why do you work for those guys?  You need to work for the business getters.  You will never succeed here working for those guys." 

2B) Similarly, if your dad was wealthy or if you knew a lot of young wealthy people, you were heavily valued as a young attorney.  If you were, say, the son of a guidance counselor from out of state?  Not so much.

3) Sure, we want you to do efficient work, but, ya know, just sort of efficient work.  When I got moved to doing banking work a couple years in, "You are a good attorney, you will get your own cases start to finish, they have a lot of work" I learned that the banking department has a shitload of cases, and damn easy cases.  Folks had borrowed money and never paid it back - pretty easy to win those cases.  But there were PILES of them. 

I developed a method of getting cases filed and getting discovery out, etc.  I could process 4 complaints in the time my fellow associate could do 1.  So I would work 9-6 and bill 6.5 hours and crank out an ungodly amount of work. My fellow associate?  She would work 7-7 and bill 9.5 hours and do....almost nothing compared to me.  Time for evaluations:  "You aren't making your hours."  Uh, I do 4 times the work that....."You aren't making your hours."  Do you want me to work 10-12 hours a day and do 25% of the work I do now?  "Well, we want you to work more AND do the same level of work."  But she makes the same amount of mon....."She brings in 20-25% more money for the firm."  By billing the shit out of the client.  "Not our concern - get your hours up."  So it is better to do a little bit of shitty work than a load of really good work?  "not shitty - average."

Lesson - we run a business here.  The fact that you are 400% better than your co-worker does not matter one fuck to us.  Bring us more money!

Let's stop here one minute, because this is the part that inspired this item.  Jemele Hill just got suspended from ESPN for saying that people should boycott the Dallas Cowboys.  Much like my old law firm SHOULD have cared about how much work I did and the quality, ESPN SHOULD care about allowing its employees to express their points of view - to report on what the Cowboys are doing (demanding the players stand for the anthem or get benched) and to express whether that is good or bad.  I mean, ESPN is a news organization, right?  It should care?  Much like my old law firm, the fact of the matter is, ESPN is a business.  ESPN management is jerking off the NFL so hard that ESPN management must be getting carpal tunnel syndrome.  An employee who comes out and suggests boycotting an NFL team?  You may as well go into the boss's office and suggest that he take $2M of his salary and distribute it to you and your family.  You just cannot do it.  You cannot call for the boycott of your employer's best customer.  Not in any way, shape or form.  Do I think Jerry Jones is right and Jemele Hill is wrong?  No.  I think the opposite.  But I am 53 years old - I am no longer na├»ve regarding how the world actually works.

4) Oh!  New story - when I was 27 the partners at the law firm gave a big presentation in late October 1991 to the associates about how "year end money" worked and was distributed.  They constantly talked about how money was placed in the associate bonus pool and how we would get paid out of the associate bonus pool.  I asked, "Well, how much money is in the associate bonus pool right now?"  None.  "None?  Well how is it a pool?"  We just call it that.  "But, no money - it is just a concept?"  Well, we don't escrow for that if that is what you mean.  "So, 100% of the pool is 100% discretionary?"  Correct.  If you want to talk about that later, come see me.

I received a visit from my Department Chair.-- "What the heck is wrong with you?"  What?  "I just got a call saying you made a fool of yourself at the associate meeting."  Uh....."Did you ask about whether there was a pool of money?"  Yes, they call it a pool and there is no pool.  "Do you want to keep your job?"  Um, yeah.  "Stop asking stupid fucking questions."  O.....K.......

5) Some other things I learned from my Department Chair when I was a 3-5 year attorney:

-- If you are not making your billable hours, you need to stay every night "until every piece of work is off your desk.  If every piece of work is off your desk, you can go home. Then in the morning you walk around to every possible attorney and ask for more work."

-- Taking paternity leave for my first child (which was offered by the firm - it is right in the handbook) was quote "a terrible idea....I mean, why would you do that?  Do you realize what message that sends to the partners here?  It says you do not give a damn about your job or the firm.  I'd really ask that you reconsider that idea."  I decided to work 3 days a week for 3 weeks instead of really taking an actual leave. "That is still a really, really bad idea.  It will cost you."

-- "I'd really like to see you on nights and weekends."  But you aren't in here on...."Not me, per se, the FIRM needs to see you here on nights and weekends."  Why?  "Shows you care. We just really get the feeling you do not care about the firm."  (There was one young associate who came in at 7AM every Saturday to read the newspaper - he'd make sure that when "his" partner got in that he had some document to "review" (even if he wasn't billing for it) so the partner saw him at work.  His job reviews?  Great "loves the firm, in early every Saturday.")

-- The term for people like me?  "Lack of fire in the belly."  I got my job review after year 3 -- (these are from like 4 different people I never did any work for) -- "Doesn't say hello to me in the hall.  Never seems interested in firm matters.  I doubt he can succeed in the long term because he lacks fire in the belly. Would like to see more nights and weekends.  Not gung ho - needs to be one for all and all for one."   Now, let me add that I worked for 3 people when I did banking law.  Three.  I never lost a case.  I probably foreclosed on $200 million worth of properties over a three-year period and I probably collected $40,000,000 of unsecured debt.  And I did 4 times the work of my fellow associate in about 75% of the time billed.  I was getting negative employee "performance" reviews based upon the perception (and also the fact) that I wasn't willing to lay down my life for the firm.

6)  Your Supervisors and Their Bosses Don't Know, and/or They Really Do NOT Care -- After my fifth year as a lawyer (again, never lost a case, outperformed my cohort by miles) I was up for the coveted Senior Associate position - then it was deemed a pathway to partnership.  Now, look, they loved the fact that as a 3-4-5 year attorney I could run a case from beginning to end and win it.  They loved knowing they'd never have to do any work or show up in court.  But they hated me.  I mean, I had a lot of friends at the firm, probably 10-20 attorneys included.  But I never kissed the asses of the powers that be.  I didn't make senior associate, and I was told that I really needed to improve my attitude and bill 2,000 hours and be at the firm 50-60 hours a week.  Then I MIGHT make it.

Now, one would think that the female partner for whom I did much of my (her) work would have known this evaluation well before I did.  She did not.  She asked for an emergency meeting with me and came into my office with the head of the entire section of the firm I was assigned to (so, like the 3rd in command) and said, "How could this happen?  Where is your improvement plan?  I think in 2-3 years we can fix all this."  She was clueless, but someone had said to her "your associate didn't make it".  So it reflected poorly upon HER. 

The Department Chair (see #5 above) was less hysterical.  He said, "well, I told you so."  He basically told me that perception was a bitch and he had the same perception.  "I wish I could tell you I disagreed, but I don't."  I laughed and said, "so..........?"  He said "It ain't ever going to get any better......."

He didn't care.  She didn't care.  One guy came to my office and said, "Geez, that is too bad.  I guess you just never got the necessary mentoring to be a good lawyer."   He didn't even care enough to know why I hadn't been given the advancement.  The short lesson is that if you are an employee, your job is to make money for the people above you.  If you don't make enough money, you better start trying to make more.  If you are unwilling to do so, you are deemed a liability.   It is the obligation of a business to limit liabilities.

7)  This Type of Person Is "Hard to Retain."  There are certain types of people that large companies want to retain - it varies by year and trend, but here are some examples I have seen -- a) women; b) minorities; c) young people; d) Millenials; e) corporate attorneys; f) patent attorneys; g) service employees without horrific tattoos.

The statements about these people is that they are "hard to retain" because they are, in some manner, unreasonable.  What the world has taught me is that these people are not unreasonable, but, rather, they simply have opportunities for work and changing work that others do not have (they are sought after and do not have to put up with a shitty environment). 

A final life lesson - when you take a job, you are agreeing to accept money in return for a piece of yourself.  You may have to dress better, act better, suck up some, laugh at bad jokes, whatever.  You may not WANT to do any of these things, but you accept the money in return for surrendering that part of yourself, surrendering your feelings about what is going on. 

People go to work every day and hate it.  That doesn't mean they do not do a good job (studies have indicated no direct correlation between job performance and job satisfaction -- there are many people who hate what they do but are good at it).  But never take a job and assume that you do not surrender something of yourself - you do.  Never take a job and assume you will always be happy - you won't. 

Never take a job and assume your bosses care about you - they generally do not.  We take jobs to make money.  If you do not like the conditions that come with making money, quit, or wait to be fired.

Finally - I have moved on and been an attorney for 28 years now.  I do fine.  I generally win my cases if there is any real chance at winning.  I still don't really enjoy what I do, but I am in a better atmosphere and generally people either like me or leave me alone.  I am nationally recognized as an excellent lawyer and speaker. 

And every day I go to work and sell a little of myself for enough money that my kids go to college and I am not in debt.   I have come to terms with that and the fact that I can never afford to keep health insurance unless I work until I am 67. That isn't a great thing to know/realize, but it is what I do - and I get up each day knowing that is the sacrifice I make.  That is just how the world works.

Friday, September 15, 2017

LeBron James Has Dominated the 21st Centrury Thus Far

If you look at playoff performance from the 2000-01 season through today, you get these stats:


James has 45.8 Playoff Win Shares.  One other player is within 30% of that figure -- Tim Duncan (32.9).  If you even say "who has HALF of LeBron's Playoff WS?" you get Duncan, Kobe and Dirk.

Well, LeBron has played a long time, so he has an advantage.  What if we go with WS/48 and give the young stars a chance?  Of guys who have logged 2,000 playoff minutes,  NO ONE comes within 10% of the playing level of LeBron.  And only three guys play at even 90% of his playoff level

Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry. 

Guys who have not played at even 60% of LeBron's playoff level despite far fewer minutes?  Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd.

Don't care for Advanced Stats?

Minutes Played - LeBron
Baskets Made - LeBron (400+ more than 2nd place Duncan)
Rebounds - Duncan, then LeBron (+468 on 3rd place Ben Wallace)
Assists -- LeBron (+390 on 2nd place Jason Kidd)
Steals - LeBron (+104 on Ginobili)
Points -- LeBron (+1,316 on Kobe)

The reason that LeBron James is always compared to players of the past (Jordan, Kareem, Wilt) is that he simply has no fair comparison against players of his own era.  If you are an excellent player and have played in the 21st Century, it is your HOPE that you have been 80-85% of the player that LeBron James has been.  If so, you are an excellent player of the Century, you might be 20-45% less productive than LeBron James.

And he is STILL better than you (#ESPNRANK ranks James as the #1 NBA player again this year).

Look at playoff wins this century

1LeBron JamesF20062017144
2Tim DuncanF20012016138
3Tony ParkerG20022017136
4Derek FisherG20012014134
5Manu GinobiliG20032017134
6Kobe BryantG20012012108
7Dwyane WadeG20042017104

No one else has 100 playoff wins.  Only ONE of James' teammates (Wade for 4 years) has 100 wins, and he has 40 fewer than LeBron.  Duncan, Parker and Ginobili all played together.  Most of Fisher's and Kobe's wins came playing together.   LeBron carried guys for several years in Cleveland - who never again did anything, then he carried Wade for 4 years in Miami - who has never since done anything, and now he has carried guys in Cleveland (Kyrie, Love, Delly, Tristan) who have never done anything in (or even reached) the playoffs without him.

Is it conceivable that Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant could go on a 6-9 year tear and surpass LeBron?  Possible,  But neither has even 20 WS.  LeBron is likely to end with around 50-60 WS and a WS/48 around .22-.24.  That means Kawho and Durant would need to have around 9seasons of 4+ WS at a rate of .300 WS/48 to match LeBron.

There has only been ONE such playoff season in the past 17 years - by LeBron.
If you assume that you could play 9 years and get 4 WS per playoff year and play at a rate of .241 WS/48 and eventually come CLOSE to the stats of a declining LeBron (not true, but assume that), since 2000-01 there have been 10 such seasons.  LeBron has 6 of them (Duncan, Manu, Howard, Dirk). 

The 21st Century has been dominated by LeBron James.  It is likely that the next guy who matches his production has not appeared in the NBA as of today.

Friday, September 01, 2017

A Goodbye to Mrs. P - Sort of Another Old Story

When I was 18, I went to college and became roommates with the #1 engineering student at my college.  We lived together for 4 years before i moved away and went to Duke and then to Minneapolis.   We were very good friends.  We were in each other's weddings. We even saw each other 2 years ago (which, given what a terrible friend I generally am, is an indicator of what good friends we were).  

Anyway - my roommate lived in the Albany area and he always told me "anytime you want, come out and visit and we can go to SPAC or the track."   SPAC was the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and "the track" was Saratoga, as in "I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally won" and The Whitney.   So from 1983 to probably 1988 or 1989 I used to go out to the Albany area 1-2 times a year and go drinking and go to the track.  

From my house to Albany was around 5 hours and I'd drive it in my Mercury Lynx and later VW Rabbit.  One time I drove from Durham to Albany at 80 mph through a driving rain, only to get my driver's side door caved in in a car accident at 9pm only 3 miles from my destination - dry road, no rain, 30 mph speed zone when the accident occurred. 

I loved going to Saratoga, even though I never had any luck with the local girls in the bars/dance clubs I was lucky enough to at least avoid arrest when throwing up or urinating in alleys, as sometimes occurred.  The track was more my speed.  We'd go to the nearest liquor warehouse and buy whatever was the cheapest beer they had that we could stand.  Then we'd take giant coolers and go out to the infield and drink.  My roomie would bring his long-time gf and I'd always go solo.  But the gf was a nice girl so she'd always be cool to hang with (she became my roomie's wife and still is)

SPAC was our other hangout and we (and seemingly everyone else) would go drink in the park before the concerts (journey, foreigner, fabulous thunderbirds, talking heads, Bryan Adams, etc).   Then we always sat on the hill and watched while we sobered up. Then we'd go home. One SPAC concert my roomie's wife saw a friend she knew named Donna and asked her to come over and drink with us. At the time, I was probably around 200 pounds, pretty powerfully built.   These words would also describe Donna, who played college rugby. About 4 Pabst Blue Ribbon 16 ouncers into our drinking, Donna whispers to me "I will drive you back to their house after the concert -- but we won't go STRAIGHT home, if you catch my drift".  I did and I immediately panicked.  Fortunately, some begging with my roomie's gf got her to make Donna back off. I am not sure I could have outfought her otherwise.  In hindsight, I'd give myself a 30% chance. 

Anyway - these 6-7 years worth of trips were a great time in my life and my roomie's house was like a second home for me.  I'd drive the 5 hours out.  I always ate on the way, but the second I reached my Albany destination, my roomie's mom would say "come in, sit down, I will make you a sandwich".  I'd reply that I had already eaten. "Come on, sit at the table, I will get you a beer ". She'd always make me a sandwich with about 6-8 potato chips (she always had Store brand ruffled) on a small plate. She'd open a beer for me and we'd sit and chat.   Mrs P was the nicest lady in the world. She'd talk to me about mom things and "how is school" and "how are the folks" and she was just a great mom figure (like a much much much much nicer version of my actual mom).  

The other thing I remember about Mrs. P is she didn't care if we drank and got drunk and stumbled home at all hours. But she also showed no mercy when we were hungover. She used to say "you're gonna drink, you gotta pay the piper".   I bet I was hungover 12-15 times in her house - never an "oh that it too bad, Maven".  Not once. 

I learned today that Mrs. P just died.   She had been sick for a few months and just sort of went bad suddenly.  She was a great lady.  She treated me as a family member and I always considered her a family member. Sadly, I have not seen her in 25 years or more.  This fact makes me feel really shitty. But I have to hope that she knew how much I cared about her and how great I think she is, I guess "was."   There are not many people in your life who care that much about you. You always remember  the ones who do. 

Her daughter is a Facebook friend and messaged me to tell me Mrs. P had died and how. She said "my mom adored you and she always talked about how great it was when you visited".   Right back at you, Mrs.P.   While I am not a religious guy, I really hope there is heaven or a place like heaven, because I'd really like to see her again some day - have a beer and a sandwich and like 8 ruffled potato chips and just chat about things again.  Good bye and good luck, Mrs. P - you made my life much better.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Who Was the Best During the Seasons They Were First Team All-NBA?

Thanks to a glitch in the www.basketball-reference.com system, I was able to look at the stats of NBA players for ONLY the season where they were 1st Team All-NBA. 
Here is the link -- http://bkref.com/tiny/P2nPn  Hopefully the glitch will not be fixed. 

One thing about evaluating players' careers is that most guys stay a little (or a lot) too long or start at age 18, so they just aren't very good for 2-4 years of their career.  That gets tossed into the evaluation mix.

With data that ONLY identifies how the guys played during the years they were (subjectively) evaluated as an all-NBA guy, you can evaluate 1) how many years was the guy truly great; 2) how was he performing as a player during those years; and 3) how does he compare to other all-time greats.

At 14,700 minutes as a 1st Team All-NBA player, Charles Barkley has the 20th most minutes at that level.  So I cut it off at Charles so we could get a top 20.

From 20 to 6 in MP as a First Team all-NBAer -- Barkley, Durant, Barry, Schayes, Olajuwon, O'Neal, Magic, Wilt, Cousy, Duncan, Bird, West, Petit, Baylor, Oscar 

Most Minutes Played as an All-NBA player
Karl Malone

Most Minutes Per Game While 1st Team All-NBA

Kareem and LeBron (tie)

Karl Malone



Karl Malone

karl Malone

Karl Malone

Effective FG%

True Sh%

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas Trade -- Most Confusing Thing I Have Ever Seen

Why does the trade of Kyrie Irving to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn's unprotected #1 confuse me?  Let me count the ways:

1) I cannot imagine the 1980s Celtics trading with the Sixers or the Bucks or the Pistons and certainly I cannot imagine the Celtics trading, for example, McHale or Parish to one of those teams. 

I am sure that this has happened at some point outside of my memory, but I cannot recall a team as good as the Cavs trading a guy who has been 2nd team all-NBA to a key conference rival.  Bizarre.

2) What does this say about Isaiah Thomas's torn hip socket?  I mean, in 2003-04 Sam Cassell had over 12 Win Shares and was second team all-NBA, leading the Wolves to a #1 seed in the West.  In the playoffs, he struggled with a mystery ailment, which the Wolves deemed "back spasms" and which eventually was diagnosed as a torn hip socket.  The Wolves had to play without him and lost in the conference finals.  Cassell before 2005 had WS seasons of 9.2, 8.5, 8.6, 9.6 and 12.1.  After the torn hip socket, Cassell never had an 8 WS season and had only one decent year for the rest of his career.

If Isaiah Thomas suffers the same dropoff, and goes back to being a 4-6 WS player (he had 12.5 last year), what are you really getting for Kyrie?  A good bench guy?

3) Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic?

Jae Crowder has long been the #1 "untouchable" Celtic because he is a "glue guy."  I recall him mostly as the guy LeBron blows by every single possession of Cavs/Celts games.  He is an OK player, but he is not supposed to be a key cog on a championship team.  The fact that the Celts have held him out of deals so often is baffling to me.

Ante Zizic -- https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2017/06/16/meet-celtics-prospect-ante-zizic

Like most Euro big guys, it is impossible to evaluate them until they come and play in the NBA, but if this article is to be believed, the Celts gave away a top 10 level draft pick as a throw-in.  If he is, instead, Jan Vesely, then it is a non-factor, but imagine if the Cavs had a decent big guy who wasn't like 6'8" (Tristan Thompson).

4)  Why would the Celts Pick this Trade to Give Away that Brooklyn #1?

I am a Duke guy, I have good feelings for Kyrie's game.  But I would have thought that the Celts had far better opportunities for this #1.  Maybe they fear that Brooklyn won't be so awful and the pick may fall to a #5?  Who knows - but this pick has LONG been the cornerstone of the idea that the Celts were going to dominate the league (or at least the East) for 10 years.  Keep IT, Hayward, the crucial Jae Crowder, Horford, get a high pick (Tatum) develop Jaylon Brown and then BAM Porter or Bagley!! 

Suddenly the pick goes to.........your arch rival?  If Porter or Bagley becomes the next great thing and the pick went to the Cavs.....doesn't that mean LeBron probably stays around?  LeBron always talks about how he loves Chris Paul and Melo and Wade and blah, blah, blah, but if he wants to play until 38 or so, doesn't he want to play with a YOUNG superstar whose game he can groom?  He saw that Cleveland had good young players - went home.  Do you want to ENCOURAGE LeBron to stay in your conference and keep beating you?

5) How does Isaiah Thomas fit with LeBron? 

Maybe he is physically shot and will just split time with Derrick Rose.  If so, no problem.  But if IT is going to be AT ALL useful to you, he has to take a ton of shots and render LeBron worthless on 20-30 possessions a game.  Is that what you really want?

6) The Old Celtics Roster, While Less Talented, Made More Sense With Brad Stevens Coaching.

The hardest thing about playing the Celtics was that they were very young and played hard for 48 minutes and always believed they would win.  This belief carried them through despite their general lack of elite talent (Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder would jack threes down 17 in the 4th with as much confidence as if they were Curry/Thompson.Durant).

You now have a Kyrie-led squad.  No one has ever accused Kyrie of outworking his opponent.  Gordon Hayward isn't a grinder.  You've now reduced the value of Jayson Tatum.  Unless you are going to give him the LeBron role of distributing the ball to the scorers, what role, exactly, does he play now? 

The whole trade makes absolutely no sense for anyone.  I guess I'd have to give the advantage to Cleveland.  They get a couple of assets that, if lightning strikes, may be awesome "gets" and they get a chance to keep LeBron around for 4-5 years.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Taylor Swift Ass-Grabbing Case -- A Lawyer's Personal Opinion


All of this is just my opinion.

The general rule of civil (as opposed to criminal) law is that you have a trial when there are "genuine issues of material fact which preclude judgment as a matter of law for one side."

In this case, the judge at issue has to decide whether the disc jockey has the right to get a jury to reach a verdict on whether he was "defamed" when Taylor Swift said he grabbed her ass (her allegations resulting in him being fired).

At this point in the case, based upon what has been reported (see above link), I really fail to see how the case reaches the jury.  Again, according to reports:

1) The DJ testified that he "may have" had some contact with Ms. Swift's ribcage area, but never grabbed her ass.

This self-serving testimony is the ONLY shred of evidence that has been presented in his favor.

Against this allegation, there is an actual picture of him reaching toward the bottom of her skirt with his hand and appearing to (at the very least) fondle her below the belt.  So, his testimony cannot be believed.  He has lied about his hand placement and his story in my opinion,.is, simply put, false.

Against this tale, which has no credibility, you have Swift testifying that he grabbed her bare ass under her skirt and that she immediately shimmied away toward his girlfriend (which the picture also shows).  You have two different people testifying that they witnessed the DJ grab her ass and others testifying that she told them immediately thereafter that the DJ had, in fact, grabbed her ass.

How is there any genuine fact dispute here?  Can Kyrie Irving sue a school district for teaching that the earth is round and reach trial by testifying "I think it is flat"?  I mean, at SOME point the judge has to step in and stop the charade.  In my opinion, he should have awarded summary judgment against the DJ and given Ms. Swift her $1 in damages she was seeking.

That said, there are judges who believe that they will try to let the jury "do the right thing" and then intervene only after the jury has made a grotesque error.  While this is the safer play in many cases (i.e., cases that are halfway close), this sort of decision creates situations where people have to go through a jury trial and pay a lawyer $1,000,000 to defend ridiculous allegations.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

"Brad" From Grinnell, Iowa Officially World's Largest Penis

19.1 inches!!!  https://www.viktre.com/zachboychuk/grinnell-iowa-man-sets-new-record-for-longest-penis-in-the-world

Good Jesus.  19 inches.  Basically the length from my elbow to the tip of my middle finger!  (Also, of note, at least 2 full inches longer than my actual.....)

I simply cannot imagine a life of this sort.  Brad notes that a woman left him b/c she couldn't handle it.  No shit, Brad.  Amy Schumer tells a story of how she once faked falling asleep because the guy she was with was roughly 10 inches.  This guy is barely halfway in at that level.

As I noted on Twitter, it was bad when I lost to that Mexican guy in 2015, but falling to 3rd place has really put a dent in my self esteem.

Congrats, Brad.  But I think a move to the Los Angeles area is probably your best chance of finding true love.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Stages of Right Wing Crazy Blonde Commentators

I am sorry, I saw this on Twitter and I just could not resist. 

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.  http://hoopramblings.blogspot.com/2007/05/my-6-worst-dating-experiences.html
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 complementary 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 basketball-reference.com'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