Sunday, October 08, 2006

New Balls, Big Dog's Record, Kerr's Chops

A few weekend tidbits:


Pop quiz, kids - match the following three players with their quote regarding the new NBA ball:

a) Sam Cassell
b) Shaquille O'Neal
c) Mark Madsen

1) "It's like touching an exotic dancer and then going and touching a plastic, blow-up doll."
2) "This is like giving an accountant software that isn't great, where he'd say, hey, the old software allowed us to do special things."
3) "I love this m*****f*****!"

Answers are below, and yes, they are as obvious as they seem.

With all of the overheated rhetoric being bandied about, Mike Monroe of the S.A. Express-News actually broke down the numbers from summer league, where the new ball was used, and it looks like this whole thing might be much ado about nothing.
    Amid all the hoo-ha, however, there are some facts that have gone unreported. The new ball was used in NBA summer leagues this year, and it seemed to perform quite well.

    Here are some comparative figures from summer league games played in 2005 and those played this summer:

    In 76 summer league games played with the leather NBA ball in 2005, the overall shooting percentage was 44.2; 3-point percentage was 31.2; free throw percentage was 71.2.

    In 73 summer league games with the new ball in 2006, the overall shooting percentage was 45.8; 3-point percentage was 34.0; free throw percentage was 71.9.

    Turnovers per game was basically a push: 33.1 in 2005; 33.3 in 2006. The guess here is that NBA coaches will be thrilled if the new ball produces similar improvements in shooting percentages and turnovers remain about the same.

As someone who's had the privilege to enjoy the many splendors of the players' lounge at the Milwaukee Bucks practice facility a time or two, I found this blog entry from Chris Sheridan particularly amusing, specifically this passage:
    The Bucks let me hang out in [the players' lounge] while Stotts conducted practice. They have a Ms. PacMan/Galaga video game in there set to free play, and I was well on my way to breaking Glenn Robinson's Galaga record of 999,060 points before I had to stop because Harris was ready to see me. The Big Dog's record lives on.

He left out my favorite part - the reason it can be determined who the record-holder is. You'd look at the list of top scorers and the three-letter codes would say "DOG" and "RAY" interspersed among those of team employees. Good to know the record still stands. And I seem to recall that the machine was set to a ridiculously easy level, which allowed me to easily set the highest Ms Pacman score of my long and distinguished career - and which would explain why Big Dog was approaching 7 figures.

Ever since Steve Kerr retired and started providing analysis for Yahoo!, I've wondered if his stuff was ghost-written - as most analysis from ex-players is - because his stuff has always been so lucid and well-argued. Most ghosted stuff reads like what it is - a pieced-together pseudo transcript of a guy rambling into his cell phone.

Well, the secret is out, based on a user question to Kerr:
    I've been surprised and impressed at your writing style and ability. I find it informative, succinct, and entertaining often with wry humor. Do you have editors who help you write and edit your columns, or are they truly your words? Did you major in English in college and have you always had an interest in journalism? Keep up the good work and the fine writing.

    Darian Patchin
    San Francisco

    Darian, I sware, my editters dont help me with one werd of my riting. Everything you reed comes straight from my cumputer. … Seriously, I really appreciate the compliment. I have always loved to write – in fact, I took a lot of English and creative writing courses in college – and this is something I really enjoy. I do have an editor, who does a great job by the way (I'm assuming he may read this), and we talk about issues and ideas for stories. But for the most part, he doesn't have to edit a whole lot of what I write. Believe it or not, these really are my words!

Damn. Five rings, one of the truest shots ever and the dude can write like he does?! Let me give a Wayne's World-esque "We are not worthy!" to Mr. Kerr. Not fair. The guy goes from being one of the best shooters in the game to being one of the best writers about the game. Unbelievable.

"I love playing with that Chinese dude."
-- Dikembe Mutombo

"Stephen Jackson took five shots? Let me guess--nobody was remotely hurt."

Answers: a-3, b-1, c-2. Thanks for playing.


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