survivor of the wolly mammoth population bottleneck effect

May 18, 2007 at 12:49 am | Posted in basketball, brian | 9 Comments

does anyone else have difficulties posting comments?  i submit my comment and nothing shows up. i try and repost my comment and wordpress tells me that i’ve already left this comment.  what is going on?

but this post is about basketball.

you’ve been abducted

so dirk nowitski was officially named mvp the other day.

but the mvp.  what does it mean to be the mvp?  i guess it means a bunch of sports journalists think you had the bast season in the nba.  of course, all of these sports journalists are actively shaping the nba’s narrative while having a financial and professional interest tied to how this narrative unfolds.  they all have idealizations of how basketball should be played and what should constitute a star player.  none of them have watched even a significant fraction of the entire nba season and many of the games they did watch were determined by which games were televised nationally and those nationally televised games prominently features 8 teams and mostly forgets about the rest of the league.  in short, those sports journalists can only vote for the mvp using vague criteria without any hope of objectivity.

looking at this year’s top three mvp candidates, we see examples of the vague idealizations used to choose the mvp.  is the mvp the best player on the best team (dirk), the player who best makes his teammates better (nash) or the player single-handedly responsible for the success of his team (kobe).  nash also had his previous two mvps working against him; a third straight mvp would put nash in an exclusive group an work against sports writers nostalgia for the so-called golden era of the nba (from whenever bird and magic entered the league until jordan’s first retirement).  kobe is probably the most polarizing athlete in the nba (possibly the third most in major us sports after barry bonds and to) so has way more haters than either dirk or nash.

so dirk wins the mvp.

that’s not to say that he didn’t have a great season, or even the best season.  just saying that the mvp award is not authoritative.  i just think we should all be honest about our subjectivity.


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  1. R I D I C U L O U S. And that IS to say that Nowitzki DID NOT have the best season. Or even close. Or even that great of a season period.

    When I saw his year-end statistics, and that he was EVEN in the running for MVP, I literally yelled at my screen. Maybe even an outpour of cusswords. Which I never do.

    Critics love to laud the unspoken, unrecorded, under-publicized benefits of key players in teamwork-centric strategies and roles, and how they “are what really win ball games.” Truth be told, however, 85% of what REALLY happens on a basketball court is clearly visible on a stats sheet now that blocks, turnovers, and drawn charges are kept.

    Nowitzki didn’t excel in ANYTHING. And HE’S UGLY. And boring. I would’ve voted Nash all the way. Who is also ugly but non-boring.

    The Suns can still almost kick huge teams’ (like the Spurs last night) asses without phenom Stoudamire, or Diaw, or Barbosa (my favorite player ever), but when Nash struggles, or is absent, the team all but falls apart. He’s the posterboy for what an MVP is. Clutch. Control. Direct influence and dependence on whether a game is won, and not purely scoring-wise. That’s an MVP.

    I despise, loathe, and literally want Tim Duncan dead as soon as legally possible. But honestly, he was a far more crucial element in the Spurs’ success than Dirk was in the Mavericks’. Without Duncan, the Spurs are basically a foreign team of specialized small men, which would be lucky to break .400 in a regular season. So, I would’ve even picked him over No-wit. The point is, I’m pissed. And Dirk Nowitzki as MVP is the biggest joke I’ve seen in the NBA since Christian Laettner made the original Dream Team.

    I wish I could sign a petition or something.

  2. i should point out, since it might not be clear, that i don’t really agree with the classifications of nash, kobe and dirk. i was simply commenting on the different ways people argue for who should win the award since their is no standard criteria.

    and i disagree with you d-money. i think that baseball is the only sport you can look at a boxscore and know pretty much everything that happened in a game. basketball has ball rotation, offensive spacing, screen setting, outlet passes, pump shots, challenging shots, double teams and smart fouls (which aren’t differentiated in the stats).

  3. Brian, I like you. I really do. But you’re kind of being silly, bud.

    If you want to get ridiculous about statistics in general, we can outfit each player’s hands, feet, forehead and sternum with hybrid RFID/GPS chips that would chart statistics equally as useless as the ones you just listed, such as:

    – Approximate blocks (shots where the distance of the player’s hand from the ball fell within X inches at sometime from the point of release until the ball changed its directional velocity downward)

    – Duration of high-pressure (the total time that a player maintained a distance of less than X feet from his assigned coveree in man to man or any opponent players entering his zone)

    – Almost made shots (shots where the center of the basketball came within X centimeters of entering the goal plane of the rim)

    – Loose ball recoveries

    – Ball deflections (not resulting in turnovers)

    – Tip outs (quantified as fractions of a rebound depending on the length, direction, and speed of ball travel and the ultimate possessional outcome)

    – Secondary assists (passes, whether outlet or otherwise, which created a situation in which the recipient generated a traditional ‘assist’)

    I could go on for hours. But I won’t.

    Anyway, most of the things you listed are either determined directly by the coach’s per-game strategy {‘offensive spacing’, ‘double teams’, and when to deploy ‘smart fouls’} or are a standard expectation of basketball in general {‘challenging shots’, ‘screen setting’, and ‘ball rotation’}. Keeping them would be more an encapsulated illustration of a per-game or per-player strategy than a metering of a particular player’s performance or lack of.

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to consume those statistics, I sure would, but their helpfulness in terms of analyzing a player’s seasonal performance or cumulative value to a team nowhere near compares to that of the official stats currently kept.

    That’s why they’re not.

  4. man, your always giving the coaches way too much credit. but i understand. it’s because you only want to credit black athletes with physical ability.

    my point isn’t that all those statistics should be kept (even though i wish that they were, as well as stats like shooting percentage in different game situations, rebounds in crowds vs easy rebounds, crossover dribbles and a million other things) but that with only the uncontextualized stats that are currently kept it’s impossible to have an authoritative mvp.

  5. I’m fine with Dirk winning the MVP this year.
    I think I’ll write a blog about it.

  6. You obviously haven’t played Tecmo Superbowl 1-3 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

    Coaching, in the form of play-calling and strategic, per-matchup substitution, are the ONLY things that even matter.

    Don’t be surprised if Jeff Hornacek wins an NBA title as a head coach in the next 7 years with nothing more than innovative coaching and B and C players. That’s how effective good coaching can be.

    And yes, my dad was an NBA assistant coach (specializing in defensive strategy) for about 8.73 years, so I DO have a skewed perspective. Slash some really authentic souvenirs.

  7. Dawg, you always got my back. When I raise my pointer finger at MOV if I do make it, as if to say ‘number 1’, just know, Dave, that I’m really saying that YOU’RE NUMBER 1. FOREVER AND EVER.


  8. Sidenote: D’s right though. The Jazz, for example, had at least 2 championships’ worth of talent and ability. 2 teams’ worth of players that could take a team to ring. Why didn’t they? With Karl Malone and John Stockton, arguably the league’s most chemically-compatible PG/SCORER duo up until that time, on top of their fantastically deep supporting talent?

    Say what you will, but I could easily architect a mathematical proof demonstrating that all signs point to one source: COACHING. POOR COACHING. They did well enough because they players did what they could within their incircumventable strategy. What they could do was pretty well. So, uninformeders gave the coach props. But really, ironically, it was coach that held us the hell back.


  9. […] behind the defender’s head for an easy dunk?–i’m saying that the mvp award is stupid.  winning an mvp award is exactly like winning an oscar except there is less accepted criteria […]

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