June 1, 2010

Lakers v. Celtics

From my new column at Taki's Magazine:
Starting Thursday, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers meet for the twelfth time in the National Basketball Association finals. The Lakers have traditionally showcased superstars, from George Mikan, the NBA’s first big man in the 1940s, through Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, to Kobe Bryant today. In contrast, the Celtics, at their best, have exemplified team play.

Before 1968-1969, for example, the Lakers augmented their Hall of Fame duo of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West with 7’1” Wilt Chamberlain, the greatest offensive player of the era. In the 1969 finals, they encountered a dilapidated final rendition of the Celtics dynasty led by 6’9” center Bill Russell, the greatest defensive player. The Celtics eked out a 108-106 seventh game victory for their eleventh title in Russell’s thirteen seasons.

That gave Russell a career record of 6-1 versus Chamberlain in playoff series. Thus, Russell was almost universally acknowledged then to be the better player. The changing celebrity of Chamberlain and Russell since then illustrates some of the workings of fame.

Today, Chamberlain’s gaudy individual statistics grasp the sport’s fan imagination, while Russell’s accomplishments as the finest team player ever are increasingly forgotten, although he’s still alive at 76. The Basketball Reference website, for instance, will sell you an ad on Russell’s page for half the going rate for Wilt’s page.

Chamberlain, who has been dead since 1999, has become part of American folklore. Wilt’s first name alone is enough to call to mind the statistics of which he boasted: the 100 points he scored in one game, the 50 points per game he scored for an entire season, and the 20,000 women he claimed to have scored with.

The ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, a Celtics partisan, repeatedly insinuates in his entertaining and often impressive Book of Basketball that Chamberlain’s most notorious statistic was an elaborate ruse to cover up that he was gay. How often was Wilt actually seen with a woman, he asks?

Read the rest there and comment upon it here.

By the way, the Boston-bred Simmons doesn’t mention it (his Beantown bias might be blinding him), but there's an obvious analogy between the relative fame today of Chamberlain v. Russell and of the Boston Red Sox's great slugger, Ted Williams, who never won a World Series, v. his contemporary Stan Musial. That Williams' obsession with excellence in hitting sometimes got in the way of winning baseball games seems less important to us today than it did to his contemporaries.

The Splendid Splinter's incredible hitting statistics, such as being the last .400 hitter, continue to fascinate baseball fans, while Williams' contemporary, Stan Musial, who was a better team player and better than Williams at everything except hitting, is largely forgotten. Musial earned more MVP votes than Williams (granted, he lost fewer seasons to military service), yet, few can now remember if Musial is still alive (he’s 89), but everybody knows that after Williams's death in 2002, his head was cryonically frozen in liquid nitrogen in case future medical advances can bring him back to life.
 

62 comments:

Paul DeReno said...

In baseball, you are one of 18 or so ESSENTIAL players, and it is an individual game disguised as a team game. In basketball, you are one of 5, which is why one player can dominate so much, and why it is valid to ask if a player ever won a ring.

And basketball is a team game, which is to say that it's a dynamic system, where every outcome is contingent upon sequences of events that are all contingent to each other. In baseball, every event is pretty much independent of other events. Pitcher pitches, batter swings, fielder fields. Unless you are a ground ball pitcher who leans heavily on defense.

In other words, every event in baseball can clearly and accurately be called the responsibility of one player. Basketball requires several moving parts.

This is to say that you can't put the Sox lack of a ring in the 40s on Ted's shoulders. Stan was better at everything but hitting, but William's advantage in hitting was very great.

robert61 said...

In re the "goofiness" of shooting free throws underhanded, two words of refutation: Rick Barry.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Boston and I believe this memory is true, but of course it may not be. One afternoon, i was watching a Red Sox game and Williams was at bat. The Ump started to call a strike, but noticing that Williams had checked his swing (and Williams' eyes were reputed to be the best), the ump changed his call to a ball. Can you think of any other hitter who could have influenced the ump that way? (This was not a case where the check-swing was ambiguous.)

Anonymous said...

Stan Musial is a lefty so it's remarkable that he's still alive at 89. Lefties usually die younger.

Anonymous said...

...Chamberlain's most notorious statistic was an elaborate ruse to cover up that he was gay...

In my own personal [business/professional] life, I have never crossed paths with a black man whom I did not suspect to be on the down-low.

And I've only ever seen a handful of black man on television [maybe Clarence Thomas and possibly Thomas Sowell] who might have been legitimately heterosexual.

PS: This plague is spreading to the white race, as more and more white boys are being raised in single-parent homes, without fathers in their lives.

keypusher said...

This is to say that you can't put the Sox lack of a ring in the 40s on Ted's shoulders. Stan was better at everything but hitting, but William's advantage in hitting was very great.

I was going to take issue with this, because Stan Musial was a terrific hitter. I couldn't see how Williams could be that much better. But in fact...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/willite01.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/musiast01.shtml

Paul DeReno has a point.

Usually Lurking said...

Now that you mention free throw shooting, I am curious, who is the tallest player to average %80 for a career?

Ewing, Olajuwon, D Robinson, Kareem, etc, these are the best free throw shooting players over 7 feet tall, yet they all averaged somewhere between 72-75 percent for a career.

Is it possible for a player to have hands that big and still be a really good outside (or free throw) shooter? Isn't that what made Larry Bird so unusual?

Jim O said...

I saw Wilt several times (maybe 4 or 5) in Waikiki , where he hung out in the mid-seventies, while I was in the Army (yeah, I know. Actually not so much fun. Sorta like From here to Eternity before December 7th, except I couldn't seem to find my own version of Deborah Kerr.

But I digress. Anyway, now that you mention it, Steve, whenever I saw him, walking down Kalakaua Avenue, or hanging out in a disco, he was always with a guy. I mean, girls came up to him, of course. but I never saw him leave with one. Small sample size, to be sure, but, hmmm...

OhioStater said...

What about Ted Williams vs DiMaggio? In 1941 (his hit streak year) DiMaggio hit 30 home runs and struck out 13 times. Said differently, he hit for power and struck out 13 times in 139 games.

In 1937, DiMaggio hit 46 home runs and struck out 37 times.

For his career, DiMaggio had 361 home runs and only 369 strikeouts.

Absolutely staggering.

Anonymous said...

I want to see a study on how often black guys foul white guys versus how often white guys foul black guys in the NBA and in the NCAA. Kobe has a history of flagrant fouls against white guys, to name one. I've lost a lot of sympathy for the Negro league players of yesteryear because black guys are using violence today to achieve the same means: ethnic cleansing.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it Steve. You are usually correct about so many things and you are also tall. It's alarming to read a blog that is so wrong. Maybe you are just too young.

I doubt if you ever saw a whole lot of the Chamberlain vs Russel games. But I did - on live TV.

Russel became famous as the last piece of the Celtics puzzle. Auerbach's Boston teams were different even then - they ran plays. Team members actually were self effacing. They submerged their own game into a greater team effort. They were of course mostly white.

The pre-Russel Celtics had a style that was very entertaining but not completely successful. When Russel came from USF he fit in perfectly. He gave them rebounding and shot blocking. They didn't need him for shooting fortunately because he couldn't shoot, or dribble, or pass (except for full court heaves to Bill Sharman alone at the other end of the court).

Sports writers loved the Russel narrative. A black man completes a white team. But Auerbach knew better. He called Chamberlain the greatest machine God made for playing basketball - while Russel still was playing for him.

Chamberlain was a phenom - not just for being tall - Dar Schweede(sp?) was taller then and many obscure players have been taller since. If height was all there was to it why wasn't Manute Bol or Sun Ming Ming more impactful? It was pointed out at his debut that there were approximately fifty men in America over seven feet. It was not height or rather not height alone that made Chamberlain a success.

When he played for Philadelphia he was the fastest man on the team in their drills. You mentioned assists and foul outs only to dismiss those records. You didn't mention his stamina. In those early days he averaged more than 48 minutes a game. That means he never sat down. He got more minutes in from overtime games than he lost from taking a breather on the bench. The classic defense against the other team's big guy was to foul him out or wear him out. That didn't work against Chamberlain.

Everyone knew it at the time. Chamberlain was a five sigma player, although sports writers didn't use that term. Rather there developed a resentment narrative - this new huge black guy was big (and fast and athletic) but he wasn't really as good as our smaller black guy who mixed so well with his white teammates.

Much the same sort of thing arose around Mario Lanza. He too was a phenom who was denigrated by the experts of the day. Saying Lanza had a small voice or that Chamberlain wasn't really that good was a way for journalists to deal with an outlier.

BTW shooting free throws underhanded wasn't laughed at when Rick Barry adopted the technique and set all those records.

OneSTDV said...

Baseball team success can't be compared to basketball team success.

The latter is a fine metric of a superstar's greatness, the former not at all.

Baseball and Individual Success

josh said...

ted williams' career OPS was higher than Musial's best season. I don't know what this "team player" stuff is all about, but its really between Williams and Ruth for best player ever. Musial is much further down the list.

MQ said...

Paul DeReno is right -- there is no mystical interactive "teamness" in baseball which you can use to fault a great individual performer for his team's failure, while there very much is in basketball.

Wilt was great not just because of his height, but because he was an extraordinary athlete. E.g. he was a great track and field performer at everything from sprints to the shot put (which requires exceptional coordination and agility as well as strength).

Finally, it's a little much to stereotype the Lakers as "individuals" but the Celtics as "team". That might work in the '60s, but how can you say the Lakers of the 80s were a more individualistic team than the Celtics of the 80s? Magic Johnson was one of the greatest team superstars of all time.

Whiskey said...

Steve -- If you believe the thesis of Moneyball, that anything that contributes to an out is bad, and anything that avoids it is good (like getting a hit) than Williams was a BETTER team player than Musial.

Imagine an inning where nobody makes an out, and everyone gets on base. How many runs do they score? Infinite. Think of it that way.

Williams just had a worse team.

Wilt having 20,000 women? Today in the NBA that is called ... slacking.

jody said...

in exactly the same way that black american boxers from 30 years ago are remembered as invincible superhumans and towering figures of sport. they would easily knockout every boxer today in 1 round. and then you go to the video, and see that they aren't even close to living up to the legend.

checking the video of past performances for training purposes, something which is completely standard for sports science today, is totally destructive to most sports legends. yet you have all these 60 year old non-athlete "analysts" who insist that athletes were better many decades ago. they could not be more wrong.

in fact, without electronic timing, these same guys would be telling us that track runners from 30 years ago would blaze past runners today. tyson gay is OK, but he's no carl lewis. carl lewis was FAAAST. PRIME carl lewis would smoke tyson gay. LOL. refering to "prime" (fill in the blank with athlete's name) is the favorite arguing point of the "the older athletes were better" crowd. prime mike tyson would do this, prime muhammad ali would do that.

a little off topic, but we're only t-minus 3 weeks until the US soccer team is eliminated from the world cup, and every ESPN analyst will then tell us that black american basketball players would easily win the whole thing, just as they tell us, every chance they get, that black american basketball players would dominate every sport in the world if they wanted. i guess lebron james needs to save boxing before signing with the knicks.

might as well send the US basketball team to the world cup instead, i suppose. as we can clearly see, all the best soccer players in the world are 6-8 africans. really tall guys are great at controlling a ball that's all the way down there at their feet.

jody said...

also off topic, but do you think jon entine would even acknowledge this:

after 2 perfect games in 1 month, i went and checked wikipedia and see that a black player has never thrown a perfect game in over 100 years. in fact, out of 18 or so modern era perfect games, every one of them was thrown by a white player, except for a single perfect game by dennis martinez, a mestizo from nicaragua.

baseball does not have quite the same participation rate worldwide as track & field, but it is not that far off, pays a LOT more, and has been a major international sport for decades.

why can't africans or part africans throw perfect games? is this the reverse of the 100 meters for them? the thing which another group can do, but which they can't?

there's no possible excuse here for "they're just not interested". they're clearly interested in being payed millions of dollars a year to throw footballs and baseballs. throwing is the most important skill in the two biggest, most important sports in the US, and european men are a lot better than african men at it.

would entine even allow that white men are better at throwing? is a positive sports stereotype even legal at this point for european athletes?

Anonymous said...

would entine even allow that white men are better at throwing?

It depends on what you mean by "throwing".

I should think that the same kinds of "fast twitch" muscles which propel Usain Bolt's legs would do wonders for a thrower's pects and lats and triceps and biceps [etc etc etc].

But when looking for greatness at QB in football, or at pitcher in baseball, having a strong arm is only half of the recipe.

The other half is IQ...

josh said...

I thought it strange to hear that this most American of ballplayers,(two wars,no less;Ed McMahon fought in Korea,btw,but had spent WWII as an instructor) was part,uhm,hispanic. Interesting that Billy Martin was,too. As far as the head thing,those cryogenics guys and their customers are complete psychoes.Would not want them for a neighbor. Its sad that he did that idiocy;he was a sports hero.Sad to see him the butt of jokes. He obv took a few too many fast-balls to the aforementioned head! Speaking of balls up around ones face,Wilt the Stilt was gay??? Is that why they called him the Stilt?? I can only hope thats true,tho i doubt he was gay,per se;but a black male of gargantuan,er,sexual appetites--and money & fame--would leave very few whims to the realm of fantasy.N'est ce pas? Nudge nudge. Wink wink. Say no more. Sort of how i believe,tho its been denied,that the Al Gore/tipper breakup was simply a "growing apart" as they each pursue their careers. I have a feeling,knowing what a bloviated,fat,self-centered narcissist Al is that he has been pursuing more than his career. If THAT was an idealistic environmental-loving free thinking young gay male,that would be soooo funny.

mug said...

Whites are better at throwing because prehistoric Europeans had longer range hunting technology. Aim is much more important when using an atalatl or longbow to hit something 100m away (Europe), versus throwing a spear at game 10m away (Africa). So good aim would be strongly selected for among European males.

mug said...

Interestingly, color blindness is prevalent in ethnic groups that used long range hunting tools (it is one of the rare traits that goes Europeans>Asians>Africans). Supposedly, those with color blindness are able to detect camouflaged game at longer distances. This would be an important trait to have if you had the long range tools to actually engage such game. Interestingly, Australian Aboriginals also have high rates of color blindness, which makes sense given that they used atlatls and boomerangs. My prediction is that aboriginals would make good baseball pitchers (though maybe not QBs because of the low IQ). If I owned a baseball team I would start a youth pitcher clinic in Australia.

keypusher said...

What about Ted Williams vs DiMaggio? In 1941 (his hit streak year) DiMaggio hit 30 home runs and struck out 13 times. Said differently, he hit for power and struck out 13 times in 139 games.

In 1937, DiMaggio hit 46 home runs and struck out 37 times.

For his career, DiMaggio had 361 home runs and only 369 strikeouts.

Absolutely staggering.


Yes, it is. But Williams didn't strike out much either (709 in 9791 plate appearances, compared to 369/7671 for DiMaggio). Then you see that Williams walked over 2000 times, compared to 790 for DiMaggio. That plus Williams' higher batting average gave Williams an OBP nearly 100 points higher than DiMaggio, plus he had a big edge in slugging pct (.634 to .579).

DiMaggio was a great hitter. But Williams was on another level.

robert61 said...

Jody - Africans don't play baseball. Neither do Europeans. Americans, Caribbeans of various stripes and Japanese play baseball. That's it. Africans play soccer, fight small but savage wars and debase their currencies.

Howard Hughes said...

jody: Well, of course, the athletes today are better than the athletes of yesterday. But they also got the benefit of better training, better medical treatment and so on. If Wilt Chamberlein had been born 1986 he would still have had the natural talent to dominate today, and would've had the same advantages as everybody else.

And vice versa if you let a modern playern be born in 1930 or 1940 or whatever. That's why it's better to look at how great the dominance over the competition, the quality of competition, etc., when judging the players of the past compared to those today.

Slampo said...

So you think Stan the Man mighta been gay, too?

Alticor said...

Chamberlain at a disco with Blondie:

http://www.blondie.net/photo/wilt-chamberlain-and-debbie-by-jeff-mayer/

Anonymous said...

I've seen Wilt in person (alone) watching mid level women's tennis. I've read that he was a fan of the game and preferred the women's game. As a tennis player and tennis fan, I'd say this points to NOT GAY.

I also know a woman who claims Wilt approached her, but she may just have been bragging.

Anonymous said...

Other posters have got it right but hit the 'race' angle too hard. The fans & sportswriters love the narrative of "selfish superstar beaten by less talented, hardworking team player". That's why Russell got so much good press and Wilt the bad press. No one likes Goliath and Wilt WAS Goliath. As others have stated, Wilt wasn't just tall, he was a great athlete. He could everything Russell could do and more.

Put him on the Celtics and Russell on the Lakers and the Celtics would've won every time.

As for Musial vs. Williams. The problem is stats don't tell the whole story. Musial was a better base runner and defensive player, so how many runs was that worth a season? Some, but how can you quantify it?

And Team players might have a lower batting average and home run percentage than selfish players but it can't be quantified. You have men on base and the unselfish batter goes for the SF or the single, the selfish guy swings for the fences. Your team is behind, the unselfish batter goes for a BB or a single, the Unselfish guy swings for the fences and strikes out.

So yeah, just comparing stats doesn't tell the whole story.

Steve Sailer said...

Here's the website of Wilt's most long-term on-off girlfriend, Lynda Huey:

http://www.completept.com/crosstraining-EmekaOkafor.html

She's exactly who you'd figure: blonde, athletic, a physical therapist, a successful businesswoman.

keypusher said...

As for Musial vs. Williams. The problem is stats don't tell the whole story. Musial was a better base runner and defensive player, so how many runs was that worth a season? Some, but how can you quantify it?

Yes. Not perfectly, but yes.

And Team players might have a lower batting average and home run percentage than selfish players but it can't be quantified. You have men on base and the unselfish batter goes for the SF or the single, the selfish guy swings for the fences.

...and hits a three-run homer. Is this supposed to be bad?

Your team is behind, the unselfish batter goes for a BB or a single, the []selfish guy swings for the fences and strikes out.

The problem with the selfish guy in your story is that he struck out. Williams didn't do that very much, though.

The best thing a batter can do for his team is get hits. Whether he does this for selfish or selfless reasons is irrelevant.

AmericanGoy said...

Usually I don't spam my blog, but this is so topical here.

Ever hear of (former) NBA referee Tim Donaghy?

http://americangoy.blogspot.com/2010/05/tin-foil-conspiracy-nut.html

Anonymous said...

"Now that you mention free throw shooting, I am curious, who is the tallest player to average %80 for a career?"

Yao. I don't even have to look it up.

Anonymous said...

There was a sandwich shop near my house in Santa Monica that I used to see Wilt at quite often with various women.

Based on what I saw, the top thing Wilt looked for in a women was tallness and second was a nice body. A pretty face, though, seemed to be pretty far down on the list.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one other note. Someody talked about Wilt being a fan of women's tennis. I believe that's right, and he was also a big fan of women's volleball, and the owner of teh sandwich shop told me that most of the girls Wilt brought in were current of former volleyball players.

Steve Sailer said...

I've long thought that Wilt, as an expert fan of women's sports, had the best suggestion on women's sports: instead of pursuing the futile goal of parity with men in men's sports, women should invent some sports of their own that emphasize what they are good at. As soon as I read that, my opinion of the two most derided Olympic sports -- rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming -- immediately changed for the better. They are what women's sports look like.

James Kabala said...

Musial was a great player, but he was not a dynasty leader on the same level as Russell. The Cardinals won three World Series in Musial's first four full seasons, which is obviously outstanding and obviously better than Williams's zero, then they were good for several yeara after that, but in the 1950s they were rarely in contention. Their other good players were gone, and Musial could not carry the team alone.

While I defer to someone who was alive at the time, the idea of Russell as a black star on a white team strikes me as a bit anachronistic - all NBA teams were mainly white teams then, and Russell was the first black superstar on any NBA team. By the mid-1960s the Celtics (unlike the 1980s Bird-led Celtics) had more black players than the average team of the time and even started five black players on occasion.

Truth said...

I would seriously doubt that Wilt Chamberlin was gay. Not one (!) single gay man has come out in the 15 or so years that he has been dead to imply otherwise.

There are two Wilt stories that stick out in my mind:

1) I saw Wilt one time, in the mid 1990s at a young people's nightclub in Century City. I did not notice him until closing time when he was at the valet stand waiting for his car. I saw a very tall man in a 70's vintage silk suit with a wife-beater underneath it with grey hair poking through it near his neck, and gold chain with a huge medallion. His sleeves were too short and his pants were high-watered and ill-fitting...and next to him, giggling for his approval were two beautiful 5'11 brunettes.

They might have been sisters, they looked very much alike and Wilt seemed to be almost totally ignoring them, as if he was doing calculus equations in his head. They then got into a weatherbeaten Bentley and drove off. Wilt's style and demeanor were clear: "Fuck you, I'm not doing anything to impress you but you will be impressed anyway. Wilt was one of a kind, I could imagine those two women laughing in Kareem Abdul Jabar, or Dr. J's face.

2) Wilt was on a daytime talk show once, I don't remember which one, discussing his book, and male and female relationships. They brought in some pretty young feminist author as his foil. Wilt again did not answer any of her querries, just spoke to the camera. Finally she said something about being disrespectful to women and Wilt said, loudly and sharply "What did you say Sweetheart? and finally looked at her.

I think the lady creamed in her skirt right on stage, and I don't mean that figuratively. For the rest of the hour she was your typical hair flipping, cooing young 19 year old sorority girl who's heart was going pitter-pat. I've never seen anything like it on TV.

There are a lot of legends that don't stand the test of time, but
Wilt's
wasn't one of them

Anonymous said...

"I've long thought that Wilt, as an expert fan of women's sports, had the best suggestion on women's sports: instead of pursuing the futile goal of parity with men in men's sports, women should invent some sports of their own that emphasize what they are good at."

Steve, I don't think women have to have different sports necessarily: both women's tennis and golf were very popular there for a time. They were personality driven, yes; however, all sports are, to a degree: remove Kobe and LaBron, and the NBA would be much less popular.

Nastase, McEnroe, Connors and their bad-boy antics helped popularized tennis, but the women's game with BJ King, Navratilova, Evert, etc. was right up there in tv ratings. People were taking their kids, including their little girls, to the sports' shops to buy tennis racquets, and the popularity of the game led to an outcry for the building of public courts in many communities across the country.

In fact, people used to say (and still do) that they preferred watching the women because theirs was much more than a serve and volley game.

Women's golf was also quite popular when the amiable Nancy Lopez was setting records. We weren't even a golfing family (I took up the game later), but my mother would sit down to watch Nancy Lopez. My dad was into Nancy- golf as well, pulling for her to make every putt and suffering with her when she just couldn't win an Open. The only other athlete that ever caused my mother to sit down on the couch and watch was Joe Willie Namath.

What seems clear is that all sports need antagonists---BJ King understood that even a victory over an old dufoos like Bobby Riggs set up a conflict the public would enjoy, and women's tennis was propelled by that match.

I think that Nancy Lopez's foil were the older, masculine women golfers such as Sandra Haynie. Both men and women were rooting for the affable, fresh-faced, feminine kid from New Mexico.

In the end, what popularized tennis also ruined it for most of us. The foul behavior of McEnroe/Connors and the indulgence of the sponsors of such behavior just got to be too much. Tennis was reduced to a circus.

I shook my head sadly the other day when I saw a pic of Venus Williams in her outfit, the one meant to look as if she was wearing no underwear. It was classless. It seemed a good metaphor for the worse of the game's history.

Anyway, I do think that the right personalities can make women's sports like tennis and golf popular again. As good as she was, Annika Sorenstam was just too quiet a presence, particularly in her early years, to bring about great attention. Her foil, another very good golfer, Karrie Webb, was also quiet. For a time, their duels drew good ratings, but imagine the draw their tournaments would have been had either golfer been more Nancy-ish.

jody said...

"who is the tallest player to average 80% for a career?"

nowitzki is the most accurate 7 foot player ever. yao is the tallest player to average 80%.

1 mark price .9039
2 steve nash .9033 active
3 peja stojakovic .8945 active
4 ray allen .8940 active
5 rick barry .8931
6 chauncey billups.8916 active
7 calvin murphy .8916
8 scott skiles .8891
9 reggie miller .8877
10 larry bird .8857
14 dirk nowitzki .8758 active
89 yao ming .8322 active

3 out of 4 of the most accurate free throw shooters in the history of the NBA are active right now.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, Nancy Lopez was one of three Mexican-Americans who were superstars in the two country club sports of golf and tennis, along with Pancho Gonzales and Lee Trevino. She was an advertiser's delight: pretty, feminine and maternal.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Larry Bird and Reggie Miller side by each on jody's list reminds me of this:


"Reggie Miller recalled his encounter with Larry Bird's legendary trash talking ability in his book "I Love Being The Enemy". Reggie tried to disrupt Larry's concentration when he was shooting free throws late in a game. Larry glared at him, made the first free throw and said, "Rook, I am the best fucking shooter in the league. In the league, understand? And you're up here trying to fucking tell me something?" Then Larry buried the second free throw."


Oddly, in his first 5 years in the league he was below 30% on threes. In his third year he was barely over the Mendoza line at .212 accuracy. He did shoot .947 from the freethrow line one year and led the league in FG percentage another year.

Steve Sailer said...

Most of Larry Bird's low 3-point percentages were in the years (second thru fifth in his career) when he didn't take many 3-pointers. When a player doesn't shoot many 3 pointers, he usually has a low shooting percentage because the ones he does shoot are largely prayers that he tosses up to beat the shot clock or the end of quarter buzzer.

jody said...

"I want to see a study on how often black guys foul white guys versus how often white guys foul black guys in the NBA and in the NCAA."

some black players deliberately look for white players to flagrantly foul. there's no doubt about it. it's not all black players though and it's not every game. but because it would very hard to prove it was deliberate, and because it's not every game but only a few times per season, i don't consider it some major problem that could be investigated. as the fouls are in the "right" direction for 2010 america, black players deliberately flagrantly fouling white players because they are white, it would really have to be a frequent phenomenon, a regular event highly disruptive to the sport, for the NCAA or NBA to investigate.

jody said...

"Jody - Africans don't play baseball."

most of the MLB players from the caribbean are african or part african. so that's 2 sources of africans, the US and the caribbean. according to 2010 statistics:

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries/teams

total MLB salaries were 2.7 BILLION dollars. but i guess even all that, 2 sources of african athletes and almost 3 billion dollars PER YEAR (!) worth of money, is still not enough encouragement to make african athletes "interested" enough in throwing baseballs to throw even 1 perfect game.

how much money do you think it would take before african athletes were "interested" enough in throwing baseballs to throw 1 perfect game? clearly, 20 million dollars a year in salary is not enough to pique the interest of the legendary throwing tribes of nigeria.

"Neither do Europeans."

a few, but not very many. there were european players in the WBC. on the other hand, if europeans played baseball seriously, then the number of perfect games would be slanted even further in favor of white players. there are twice as many europeans in europe as in the US.

"Americans, Caribbeans of various stripes and Japanese play baseball."

also canadians, mexicans, south koreans, and the chinese. fun fact: in 2006, the MVPs of MLB, NBA, and NHL were all canadian.

"That's it."

indeed. a baseball MVP was canadian? i guess they do play a little bit of baseball around the world.

Christopher Paul said...

jody said...

after 2 perfect games in 1 month, i went and checked wikipedia and see that a black player has never thrown a perfect game in over 100 years.


Yeah, but Doc Ellis threw a no-hitter on acid. Surely that counts for something.

robert61 said...

Jody - Africans don't play baseball. Neither do Europeans. Americans, Caribbeans of various stripes and Japanese play baseball. That's it.


Those "Caribbeans" are nearly all of an African stripe.

Gird yourself for some truly shocking statements: Manny Ramirez is black. Alex Rodriguez is black. David Ortiz is black. Vladimir Guerrero ... you get the idea.

The shocking part is that it's self-evident in every case. Not that anyone will ever say as much.

Whiskey said...

Pitching and playing QB? A huge requirement is not mere strength, but accuracy. Which requires constant repetition.

A pitcher must hit the corners of the strike zone, constantly, with the proper speed and movement of the ball. Bill Walsh coached QBs not to throw hard, but perfectly, where only the receiver and no defender could catch the ball.

That requires practice, practice, practice, and more practice. Now, what socio-economic group is likely to spend all their free time from ages 9-18, with coaching, practicing? JUST TO GET THE BASICS?

Whereas, to be a decent WR, or forward, or LB, or even corner or safety, you have to be fast, or big/strong, or some combination. Pure athletic ability, not tremendous development of skill.

IQ? Not so much. Most of the best QBs and Pitchers call it being "unconscious" or in the zone or simply not thinking. Don't think, just do. Let the muscle memory guide you. You've spent countless hours developing it. Its like martial arts. Constant repetition makes the move flow like water, not something that is thought. Or musical skill with an instrument.

Sonny Rollins was once dissatisfied with his saxophone technique. For a year, he went to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge and played for 8 hours, to develop a new technique. Hence, "the Bridge Sessions." It just so happens that Whites and Asians tend to be the most (but not exclusive) groups that take up constant repetition to hone a skill.

ExtraMedium said...

"I want to see a study on how often black guys foul white guys versus how often white guys foul black guys in the NBA and in the NCAA. Kobe has a history of flagrant fouls against white guys, to name one. I've lost a lot of sympathy for the Negro league players of yesteryear because black guys are using violence today to achieve the same means: ethnic cleansing."

There were two studies but they focused on the ref's calls. It found that ref's discriminated for players of the ref's race if there was a race difference between the players. White ref's discriminated more. The NBA said their study (the NBA collects racial data) revealed no race bias. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2870260

Jody is crazy.

The US Soccer team is the 2nd best team in their group, but England is beatable, so the US will probably qualify for the knock-out stage (Hey Jody do you think Slovenia and Algeria are super awesome?! You know, teams that had to go to play-offs to qualify?.

Howard Hughes said...

ExtraMedium: USA is the second best team in the group, but the playoff-comment is weird - it's much, much harder to qualify as a European team, even if you do it through a playoff game, and the African conference is also a step above the North American one.

James Kabala said...

By the way, Pedro Martinez pitched nine perfect innings in 1995 for the Expos, but the game was a 0-0 tie at the end of nine innings, and like Harvey Haddix in a once-famous 1959 game, Martinez lost perfection in extra innings. At least, unlike Haddix, he still won the game.

Martinez is, of course, a black Dominican, and I think this has to at least half-count as a perfect game - who knows what would have happened to some of the other perfect games if they had been forced into extra innings?

Truth said...

"clearly, 20 million dollars a year in salary is not enough to pique the interest of the legendary throwing tribes of nigeria."

Well Jody, it might just be enough; IF THE LEGENDARY THROWING TRIBES OF NIGERIA KNEW WHAT THE FUCK A BASEBALL WAS YOU DUMBSHIT!

Sideways said...

"As for Musial vs. Williams. The problem is stats don't tell the whole story. Musial was a better base runner and defensive player, so how many runs was that worth a season? Some, but how can you quantify it? "

Well, you've got stats like WAR (wins above replacement) that combine wOBA (an advanced hitting stat) with baserunning stats and UZR (an advanced fielding stat, although fielding stats aren't very good at this point). Looking it up, the two men have almost identical career WARs of 139.8 to 139.3.

This is supposed to mean that in an average season if you replaced one of them with a career minor leaguer, your team would win about 7 fewer games (they both played about 20 seasons). In Williams's best seasons he was at +12 wins, which is a ton. Ruth must lead the list with a 15.4 and Bonds has a modern day 13. ARod and Pujols have never cracked 10.

Williams had a better peak and was a much better hitter, which is the part of baseball we are best at quantifying.

As an example of why defensive stats are so bad, you can look at UZR. It varies wildly from year to year on single players, going from negative to positive without any difference in play scouts can see.

Anonymous said...

Pitching and playing QB? A huge requirement is not mere strength, but accuracy... IQ? Not so much... It just so happens that Whites and Asians tend to be the most (but not exclusive) groups that take up constant repetition to hone a skill.

Whiskey, you need to consider the possibility that grit and determination and stick-to-it-ive-ness correlate very strongly with IQ.

And there might even be things like "length of attention span" which could actually be [and maybe actually have been] measured by psychometricians.

Invariably I find that the guys who succeed [at almost anything in life] are the ones who can summon a little "intellectual anger" and switch on the "tunnel vision" mode and just force themselves through to the solution of a problem, by sheer will alone: Damn the [intellectual] torpedoes, and full speed ahead.

Granted, some of that is personality, some of it is cultural influence, some of it is from training [or formal education - making it through a Parris Island boot camp probably wouldn't hurt], but I think that there is a certain quality in all of it [probably attention span] which is very closely related to IQ.

PS: Don't try to tell me that guys like Nolan Ryan or Roger Staubach are lacking for gray cells.

PPS: My guess would be that - just in terms of strategy alone - a pitcher needs to be a fairly smart guy.

He's got to judge the wind, he's got to judge the strike zone that each batter is presenting to him, he's got to summon up a memory of each batter's batting proclivities, he's got to be thinking about that runner on first base - behind him, whom he can't see - he's got to be thinking about the strike count and the out situation and which base he ought to throw the ball to in the case of a bunt or a broken-bat hit, and all the while he's feeling the ball to get his fingers on exactly the right place in the stitching which will result in the proper trajectory of the pitch he wants to attempt.

And he has to come to his decisions in a matter of tenths of a second - a full second wasted on thinking about any of this stuff probably results in a successful stolen base, or a successful bunt, or a pitch in the dirt which advances a bunch of runners...

PPPS: And all of these decisions have to be made under the glare of 50,000+ fans in the stadium and 50,000,000+ more fans in their homes, watching on television.

I have always felt that performing under pressure correlates very strongly with IQ [or with sociopathy/psychopathy, or with both IQ & sociopathy/psychopathy] - stupid folks invariably wilt under pressure.

[Which - for the umpteenth time - after having heard the Bud Greenspan interview, is now why I think that Debi Thomas fell apart when she went up against Katarina Witt.]

By the way, free-throw shooting is one of the most pressure-packed things you can do in all of sports [up there with nailing a difficult putt in a major golf tournament], and knowing what I know about the players involved, I'd say that that list of the greatest free throw shooters correlates very strongly with IQ.

keypusher said...

Truth

Thanks for the video, that was great.

ExtraMedium said...

@Howard Hughs. The best team in Algeria's qualifying group was the Egyptian team the US humiliated last summer. Slovenia gets respect for beating Russia, but they only had one win against the Czechs and Slovakia. Related. "How a Soccer Star is Made," is about how the Dutch "engineer" soccer players. Apparently the Dutch don't lie to kids about ability.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/magazine/06Soccer-t.html?ref=soccer

rob said...

In fact, people used to say (and still do) that they preferred watching the women because theirs was much more than a serve and volley game.

Men's tennis is painfully boring: Five aces and a meltdown. Oh, the other guys' serve. 5 aces and now the first guy's going apeshit.

Christopher Paul said...

A perfect game is 27 up, 27 down. Period.

Chips said...


Based on what I saw, the top thing Wilt looked for in a women was tallness and second was a nice body. A pretty face, though, seemed to be pretty far down on the list.



That would leave Deborah Harry out on two counts for sure, she's 5'3"ish and has a boy's body with smallish breasts, very little hourglassing, a rear end gay men would like to have. Facewise her head looks like a beach ball, she's like Renee Zellweger but rounder.

In America she has basically a gay and college fan base....but the Brits and Aussies thought she was hot back in the day. I have never understood why. ((Benatar, by contrast, is a perfect smuffin like so many gymanstics girls, and Chrissie Hynde had that it's-not-F-me-it's-F-you challenge thing. Harry just looks weird to me, as does Lady Gaga even more so yet.))

Truth said...

Glad you enjoyed it

DAJ said...

Which - for the umpteenth time - after having heard the Bud Greenspan interview, is now why I think that Debi Thomas fell apart when she went up against Katarina Witt

As Al Pacino bemoaned in Godfather Part III, "Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!" (paraphrase)

Anyway, why did the hundreds or even thousands of the world's blue-eyed white female figure skaters not even qualify for the Olympics in 1988? Were they also low IQ?

Also, did you think Sarah Palin was low IQ after hearing the Katie Couric interview? If not, why?

Truth said...

"Anonymous DAJ said...

Which - for the umpteenth time - after having heard the Bud Greenspan interview, is now why I think that Debi Thomas fell apart when she went up against Katarina Witt"

That's right DAJ, Debbie Thomas was just your typical Olympic medal winning, Stanford Educated Electrical Engineer, Medical School Graduate, Surgeon, Afirmative Action idiot!

MQ said...

My guess would be that - just in terms of strategy alone - a pitcher needs to be a fairly smart guy.

basketball is far more intellectually demanding than baseball. It's not even close. Also, let's remember: the catcher calls the pitches.

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