Category Archives: Random
My first year with NBA League Pass has brought me the joy of local broadcasts. I’ve heard so many absurd, illogical, non-sensical and down right random remarks that sometimes I wonder if they’re watching the same game as I am, or even a basketball game at all. I understand that announcing a basketball game is an incredibly challenging task and I don’t presume that I could do better than any of the professionals. Still, for the sake of posterity the good of all humanity these ridiculous affronts to clarity and the English language should be cataloged. Here’s a few of the choice nuggets I’ve collected so far:
- “And the Pacers continue to come up with dry heaves from the outside.”
– Bob Rathbun, referring to a missed three pointer by Brandon Rush, 12/11/10 IND vs. ATL
- “That is so money by Dirk, just BOOM in your glass!”
– Mark Followill, after a Dirk Nowitzki fall-away, 3/4/11 IND vs. DAL
- “He continues to spray good perimeter shots . . . right down the center!”
– Clark Kellog, referring to a made three pointer by Brandon Rush, 12/8/10 IND vs. MIL
This is a project that simply can’t be done alone and thus I’m putting out a call for help. If you are watching a game and hear something you believe should be a part of this compilation, send it along to me via email (Levy2725@gmail.com) or twitter ( @HickoryHigh). Please try and include the date, the announcer, the teams involved and if necessary a short sentence setting up the context. All the appropriate submissions will be available here at Hickory High on the Library of Inanisms page.
I have to admit I was completely overwhelmed by yesterday’s trade deadline madness. I would guess that this was not the busiest or even the most signficant deadline day in NBA history, but with the trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams earlier in the week it sure feels like everything has changed. Reading through various blogs today it seems like the reset button has been hit for many teams.
A total of 50 players were traded this week. 441 different players have seen at least a minute of game time this season, which means 12.2% of the active players in the league changed teams over the last five days. This doesn’t even include the upcoming wave of buyouts and signings. An incredible 21 of the 30 teams in the NBA either acquired or unloaded a player through a trade. In addition to those 50 players being moved, 10 1st round draft picks and 4 second round draft picks changed hands.
We aren’t talking about just Chucky Atkins role players here either. 22 of those 50 players were former lottery picks. Those 50 players have a total of 16 All-Star Game appearances, 10 NCAA Championships, 3 NBA Championships, 2 Olympic Gold Medals and 1 NBA Finals MVP among them.
I also totalled up some of the statistics for all the players traded. I then calculated what percentage of the league total that represented.
Essentially 10% of everything changed hands in the NBA over the past five days.
If you feel like you’re back to square one with a lot of teams, you’re not alone. You spend four months doing your best to learn the tendencies, weakness and strengths of teams around the league and a huge portion of it goes out the window overnight. It’s an exciting challenge, but it’s a strange place to be, feeling like the season is starting over in late February.
This was fun project I’ve been working on for awhile. The idea was to set out some of my personal beliefs about basketball. As I continued to work, it spiraled and morphed into the silly, melodramatic, and self-indulgement mess you see now. I’ve put it up as a post but it will also be a page, accessible from the header at the top if you should ever feel the need to look at it again and giggle about my writing abilities with your friends.
“Prophecy and prescience – How can they be put to the test in the face of unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction . . . and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with the blow of a knife?”
You can’t watch, discuss or appreciate today’s NBA without understanding Michael Jordan. I rooted against him in every game I ever watched him play, regardless of the opponent, but he can’t be ignored, forgotten or dismissed. He was the a Jedi Warrior on the court. Remembered for tongue wagging and limitless hangtime, his true gift in my mind, was his seeming ability to make things happen on the court, to bend the course of events with force of will alone.
His fallaway jumper went in because he wanted it to. He defied gravity because it was his will. Nothing he did was instinctual or coincidental, it was all deliberate and decided. He saw the infinite possibilities inherent in each contest and chose the end result and manner of delivery which suited him best.
“To attempt an understanding of Muad’Dib without understanding his mortal enemies , the Harkonnens, is to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.”
The best basketball is played when every player on the court has something at stake; not some arbitrary or individual goal, but the shared desire of every teammate and fan.
The most common and most effective manifestation is hatred of an opponent; a rivalry, not just in name or by jersey, but in actual dislike of the other team and a desire to not just beat them but thoroughly destroy their desire to ever step on the same court with you again.
“What do you despise? By this you are truly known.”
“Yueh! Yueh! Yueh!” goes the refrain. “A million deaths were not enough for Yueh”
Just like professional wrestling, basketball has its heels, its villains, it’s irredeemable souls. For some the pleasure comes in revelling in the proximity of their demise, for some it comes in the whole hearted desire to see redemption attained. From both perspectives, a tortured soul is reason to watch.
“There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man – with human flesh.”
There are no sure things on the basketball court. What you know will happen may never materialize. All the confidence in the world is no match for reality.
“Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends on the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from a belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.”
Each player participates in perpetuating their myth to various degrees at different times, but the myth-making is largely out of their control. Like the stories of Robert Bly and Sam Keen, a mythical template has been applied to a modern human being.
An awareness of both their mythical template and the source of their mythical template, that this myth was a construction of the people around him, is crucial. The myth represents our projections and is not a reflection of an actual human being. Only with this understanding can a player move freely through fleeting moments of greatness to find a permanent home, residing alongside greatness in our memories.
“There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to build psychic muscles.”
For every champion there are scores of the disappointed, defeated and discouraged. Only one fan base celebrates at the end of the season, while everyone else chokes down the hopes of next year from half-empty goblets. Every disappointment makes that one magical season taste even sweeter; at least that’s what I’ve been told. If the Pacers ever win a championship I’ll let you know.
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
The regularity of improbabilities in basketball is intoxicating. Each game is a chance to see something you’ve never seen before. Something beyond logic and reason. Something for which you have no schema, no context, no rational structure for understanding.
“There is in all things a pattern that is part of our universe. It has symmetry, elegance, grace – those qualities you find always in what the true artist captures. You can find it in the turning of the seasons, in the way sand trails along a ridge, in the branch clusters of the creosote bush or the pattern of its leaves. We try to copy these patterns in our lives and our society, seeking the rhythms, the dances, the forms that comfort. Yet it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move towards death.”
There is basketball as competition and then there is basketball as exhibition. The two often have an inverse relationship despite sharing mutual time and space. The seeking of perfection in either is a narrow precipice with failure spiraling away on either side and immortality atop the highest pinnacle. Different players seek different goals; perfection in motion, perfection in results, but each is a dangerous goal and the path is littered with the legends of those who have failed.
“And that day dawned when Arrakis lay at the hub of the universe with the wheel poised to spin.”
All quotes were taken from the science fiction epic, Dune, by Frank Herbert.
The NBA season is roughly a quarter over with and several sites, including Ball Don’t Lie and The Point Forward, have commented on the likely leaders for several awards such as MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. These awards celebrate some of the best performances and achievements from around the league.
In a bout of malaise and general curmudgeonliness I have decided to hand out awards for some of the worst and most discouraging achievements from the season so far.
The Shawn Bradley Award – This award goes to the player 6’10” or taller who has had the highest percentage of his shot attempts blocked.
A quarter of the way through the season the winner is Chicago Bulls’ rookie Omer Asik who, listed at 7’0″ has had an astounding 27.8% of his shots blocked. Asik has 36 shot attempts on the season, 10 of which have been blocked. He draws fouls in the lane, with 29 free throw attempts on the season, but 27.8%, good lord!
The Shawn Kemp Award – This award goes to the player who has fouled out of the most games. From 1986 up through the present, Shawn Kemp is the NBA’s leader in foul outs with 115, 35 more than his next closest competitor.
We had a five-way tie between DeMarcus Cousins, Glen Davis, Jrue Holiday, Serge Ibaka, and Channing Frye, each with three. Cousins gets the award as he owns the tie-breaker with a splendid foul rate of 6.3 per 36 minutes. Excellent work young man!
The Darrick Martin Award – This award goes to the player with the lowest FG% and a minimum of 50 attempts. The award is named for Derrick Martin, a career 38.2% shooter who played 514 games of 13 NBA seasons.
This award goes to Louis Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers who has shot a sparkling 35.9% on 159 attempts. Be careful Louis, T.J. Ford has his eyes on this hardware and he’s breathing down your neck.
The Matt Bullard Award – This award goes to the player 6’10” or taller with the lowest Total Rebound Percentage. (Minimum 100 minutes)
If the season ended today, the Clippers’ Jarron Collins would be taking home The Bullard. Collins has put up an anemic Total Rebound Percentage of 3.6%. If you are keeping score at home that’s 6 rebounds in 100 minutes played. There may be some sibling rivalry afoot as his twin, Jason, is 5th on this list. Don’t count out a strong push by Danilo Gallinari, Andrea Bargnani or everyone’s favorite Tanzanian, Hasheem Thabeet, before the season ends.
The Kobe Bryant Award – This award goes the to the player who has missed the most shot attempts in a single game. The award is inspired by Kobe’s performance in Game 7 of the Finals last season.
Kobe takes home his namesake award for the 1st quarter of the season. His 21 missed field goals on November 11th against Denver were a sight to behold. In a Herculean effort to lock up the award, Kobe also missed 19 shots on November 28th against Indiana and November 19th against Minnesota. Don’t count out Chicago’s Derrick Rose as the season continues as he’s already had two games with 19 misses.
The Chris Childs Award – This award goes to the player who has posted the highest Turnover Percentage so far this season. It’s named after former New York Knick Chris Childs, who retired with a career Turnover Percentage of 22.8. (Minimum 150 minutes)
Congratulations to Chris Duhon who takes this award, by a large margin, with a Turnover Percentage of 33.2%. It’s worth noting that Duhon plays 20.5 minutes per game for Orlando, even starting 5 contests. I attribute his performance in this category to all the tips he’s receiving on the bench from Jason Williams.
The Darius Songaila Award – This award goes to the player who has provided his team with the least overall production. I use Wins Produced to determine the winner here. (Minimum 150 minutes)
This award goes to Andrea Bargnani. If he keeps this up for a few more years we might have to actually name the award after him. With a WP48 of -0.109 (0.100 is average), Bargnani has contributed -1.4 Wins to the Toronto Raptors. Whether we call Bargnani a center, power forward or small forward he has been below average with regards to his Points per Shot, Adjusted Field Goal%, Reb/48, Ast/48, Stl/48, and TO/48. On the plus side he doesn’t foul much and he’ll block a shot or two. The downside is that he is singlehandedly losing Toronto a game every 440 minutes or so he plays. A little math tells me he’s on pace to cost the Raptors about 6 and a half games this season all by himself. At least they didn’t waste a #1 pick on him or anything.
I’m proud to announce that this is my 100th post here at Hickory High. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot since March when this whole crazy thing got started. Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by to read and comment. Thanks to the 18 brave souls who have made the choice to follow my nonsense on Twitter. Thanks to everyone who has shared a link to something I’ve done here or offered advice. I can’t wait to see what comes out in the next 100 posts.
Also, Expected Scoring numbers have been updated. You can link to the spreadsheet here, or click through the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page on the header.
Thanks again everyone!
One of the things that has always confused me about professional basketball, and sports in general, is mascots. I get their supposed role; firing up the crowd, entertaining during breaks in play, high-fiving kids. The thing that is confusing is how often the mascots appear to be chosen out of a hat, with little or no connection to the nickname of the team. Some make sense, like the Leprechaun of Notre Dame, and the actual bulldog that the Georgia Bulldogs bring to games. Other’s just baffle me, for example the Standford Cardinals who’s mascot is a tree.
Using a high tech statistical model, the details of which I am not at liberty to disclose, I ran a series of correlations between the nicknames of NBA teams and their mascots. The results and analysis are below.
1. Atlanta Hawks – Harry the Hawk – Correlation: 1.00
The team is called the Hawks. The mascot is a Hawk. Makes sense.
Celtic refers either to an actual ethnic group native to the British Isles, or the language spoken by that ethnic group. Leprechauns are mythical creatures part of the cultural tradition of Ireland, a component of the British Isles. Although seperated by time and reality, at least Celtics and Leprechauns share a common region of origin.
3. Charlotte Bobcats – Rufus D. Lynx – Correlation: 0.85
The Lynx refers to a genus of felines, of which there are four species, one of which is the Bobcat. The other three species (Canadian Lynx, Eurasian Lynx, Iberian Lynx) are commonly referred to by the name Lynx. So the Bobcats either chose to name their mascot after the genus of their nickname, or chose a different species altogether. Give the Bobcats some credit though, Rufus D. Bobcat just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
4. Chicago Bulls – Benny the Bull – Correlation: 1.00
This was obviously the inspiration for Harry the Hawk. A sense of the literal wins again.
With the strong historical connection between Northern Ohio and the mounted soldiers of the 1642 English Civil War, Cleveland naturally settled on Cavalier as the nickname for their basketball team. To go along with their mounted military theme they chose some sort of mastiff as their mascot. The small correlation comes from the fact that Moondog could theoritically be saddled and ridden into battle should the need arise.
A Maverick refers to a wild or feral, unbranded animal such as a horse or cow. Champ is horse, so Dallas got the right species, but Champ is relatively well behaved and doesn’t display any of the ferocious unpredictability one would expect from keeping a feral horse inside a crowded arena.
Nuggets is a reference to gold nuggets, which I am told can be found in them thar hills around Denver. Mountain lions can also be found in the peaks of the Rockies. Another case of unrelated items connected only by a similar physical location.
My understanding is that the Pistons take their name from the engine part as an homage to the relationship between the city of Detroit and General Motors. Choosing a horse as a mascot would appear to be the polar opposite, in a transportation sense, to any vehicle powered by pistons. This is a slap in the face to the American automotive industry.
9. Golden State Warriors – Thunder – Correlation: 0.04
The Warriors’ mascot, Thunder, appears to be a humanoid incarnation of the elemental force from which it takes it’s name. Thunder certainly has the physical tools to be a capable Warrior, but appears to be a complete pacifist, thus the low correlation.
10. Houston Rockets – Clutch the Bear – Correlation: 0.00
My statistical model didn’t account for all the bears who ride around in rockets and ended up with a correlation of 0.00. I will definitely need to make some adjustments.
11. Indiana Pacers – Boomer the Panther – Correlation: 0.05
Obviously short on ideas, the Pacers choose alliteration as their guiding principal in choosing a mascot. That being said I prefer a panther to a peanut, pickle or pig.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – No Mascot – Correlation: NA
Mascot costumes cost money. Donald Sterling owns the Clippers. Donald Sterling is cheap, ergo, no mascot.
13. Los Angeles Lakers – No Mascot – Correlation: NA
The Lakers are currently without a mascot. They have been unable to find a satisfactory replacement for Mark Madsen.
14. Memphis Grizzlies – Grizz – Correlation: 1.00
Memphis, famous for their Grizzly Bears, kept the nickname and mascot when the team moved from Vancouver. Memphis, the City of Imagination!
15. Miami Heat – Burnie – Correlation: 0.88
The Miami Heat are represented by Burnie who I believe to be a phoenix. The Phoenix is a mythical fire spirit, which would generate heat! Every 500 to 1000 the Phoenix lights it’s nest on fire consuming the nest and itself and a new baby Phoenix rises from the ashes. This mascot seems particularly appropriate given the Heat’s summer.
16. Milwaukee Bucks – Bango – Correlation: 1.00
The Bucks went with the obvious choice, a Buck, and factored in some alliteration as well in choosing the name. They obviously wanted to keep their expectations reasonable, going with a 4 point rack for their buck. (Yeah, I just made a hunting joke.)
17. Minnesota Timberwolves – Crunch the Wolf – Correlation: 1.00
The Timberwolves went obvious as well, sticking with the strictly literal interpretation. In a little known fact, the name Crunch the Wolf comes from the campaign slogan of an Idaho State Senator. (Yeah, I just made an Inland Northwest regional political joke.)
18. New Jersey Nets – Sly the Silver Fox – Correlation: -0.28
New Jersey picked this mascot because people often try to catch a fox with a net. Silver fox is also a euphimism for a senior citizen so apparently the organization is targeting a specific age group for season ticket sales.
19. New Orleans Hornets – Hugo the Hornet – Correlation: 1.00
A little heavy on the alliteration there New Orleans? You decided Hugo the Huge Hornet wouldn’t fit on the back of his jersey?
20. New York Knicks – No Mascot – Correlation: NA
New York, too cool for mascots.
21. Oklahoma City – Rumble the Bison – Correlation: 0.73
Oklahoma City received some extra points for their creativity. Bison can evoke images of thunder as they pound across the Great Plains. They lost some points for design however, as their Bison appears to be of the long haired African variety.
22. Orlando Magic – Stuff the Magic Dragon – Correlation: 0.77
On one hand Orlando has chosen Dragons, mystical and magical beasts featured in the legends of many cultures. However, in choosing a name for their mascot they have butchered the memory of a cherished children’s song. In addition, there is a vocal minority on the interwebs claiming the entire song is a euphemism for inhalation of marijuana. Is this really the message you want to send to your fans? (If it is the case, the Pacers would be happy to send them Brandon Rush for Brandon Bass.)
23. Philadelphia 76ers – Hip Hop the Rabbit – Correlation: 0.11
A little known fact is that the Founding Fathers gave serious thought to choosing a rabbit as our national symbol. Kudos to Philadelphia for doing their research.
24. Phoenix Suns – Go the Gorilla – Correlation: 0.96
At first glance this seems like a strange correlation. But it’s important to remember the namesake star for the Phoenix basketball team is not the star at the center of our solar system, but the star around which the Planet of the Apes orbits. Go the Gorilla is an extraterristreal primate.
25. Portland Trail Blazers – Blaze the Trail Cat – Correlation: NA
Apparently Trail Cats are a fictional creature cooked up by the Portland front office. Since my statistical model wasn’t exactly sure what a Trail Blazer was either, it was unable to produce a numeric correlation.
26. Sacramento Kings – Slamson the Lion – Correlation: 0.74
The Kings avoided the easy, literal solution of a masculine, royal humanoid and instead went with the King of the Jungle. This makes sense when considering the team was likely trying to attact kids. There are several positive lion role models for children including Simba and Aslan. Hamlet and Henry the VIII don’t elicit quite the same response from the 6-12 year old demographic.
27. San Antonio Spurs – The Coyote – Correlation: 0.00
This is almost as nonsensical as the choices that were made in Portland. Since spurs and coyotes are actual things we were able to actually run the numbers. Spurs go on your boots and are used to urge a horse to go faster. Coyotes don’t wear boots or ride horses. They also don’t get ridden by humans. I’m lost here.
28. Toronto Raptors – The Raptor – Correlation: 1.00
Excellent work by another expansion team, putting as little effort into this whole exercise as possible. I know Raptors were likely non-verbal creatures but it can’t even get name. Ronnie the Raptor? Reginald the Raptor? Rowdy the Raptor?
29. Utah Jazz – Jazz Bear – Correlation: 0.98
When the Jazz moved to Salt Lake they had a tailor-made mascot solution. The mountains of Utah have many bears and everyone knows bears love jazz. They do NOT care for that new breed of funky jazz fusion, thank you very much Soulive. Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.
30. Washington Wizards – G-Wiz and G-Man – Correlation 0.32
G-Man on his own had a fairly strong correlation. Washington is home to the FBI, who’s agents are occasionally referred to as G-Men. Forget the fact that he bears no resemblance to any FBI agent I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen exactly one in person.) G-Wiz appears to be a cousin to the Philly Phanatic and is obviously supposed to be a representative from our government’s Department of Magical Management, our answer to the U.K.’s Ministry of Magic.