View Full Version : The No-Stats All Star

02-15-2009, 11:03 AM
I'm kind of a wannabe stats geek. I'm not so much interested in the numbers myself (because I get tired head), but I love to read the opinions of those that are, in baseball and basketball. I love reading about Houston and Daryl Morey's approach to talent evaluation, as I think it's the future for the NBA, and is about to really take off, like Bill James' analysis for baseball did in the 90's.

Anyway, this is a REALLY long article (that I haven't even finished yet) discussing Shane Batteir as the poster child for the ability to judge a player without a box score. It's written by Michael Lewis, the author of "Moneyball". Fascinating read (so far), in my opinion.

Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/magazine/15Battier-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&em)

A small excerpt:

Seldom are regular-season games in the N.B.A. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_basketball_association/index.html?inline=nyt-org) easy to get worked up for. Yesterday Battier couldn’t tell me whom the team played three days before. (“The Knicks (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/newyorkknicks/index.html?inline=nyt-org)!” he exclaimed a minute later. “We played the Knicks!”)

Tonight, though it was a midweek game in the middle of January, was different. Tonight the Rockets (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/houstonrockets/index.html?inline=nyt-org) were playing the Los Angeles Lakers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/losangeleslakers/index.html?inline=nyt-org), and so Battier would guard Kobe Bryant (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/kobe_bryant/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the player he says is the most capable of humiliating him. Both Battier and the Rockets’ front office were familiar with the story line. “I’m certain that Kobe is ready to just destroy Shane,” Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, told me. “Because there’s been story after story about how Shane shut Kobe down the last time.” Last time was March 16, 2008, when the Houston Rockets beat the Lakers to win their 22nd game in a row — the second-longest streak in N.B.A. history. The game drew a huge national television audience, which followed Bryant for his 47 miserable minutes: he shot 11 of 33 from the field and scored 24 points. “A lot of people watched,” Morey said. “Everyone *watches Kobe when the Lakers play. And so everyone saw Kobe struggling. And so for the first time they saw what we’d been seeing.” Battier has routinely *guarded the league’s most dangerous offensive players — LeBron James (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/lebron_james/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Chris Paul, Paul Pierce — and has usually managed to render them, if not entirely ineffectual, then a lot less effectual than they normally are. He has done it so quietly that no one really notices what exactly he is up to.

Last season, in a bid to draw some attention to Battier’s defense, the Rockets’ public-relations department would send a staff member to the opponent’s locker room to ask leading questions of whichever superstar Battier had just hamstrung: “Why did you have so much trouble tonight?” “Did he do something to disrupt your game?” According to Battier: “They usually say they had an off night. They think of me as some chump.” He senses that some players actually look forward to being guarded by him. “No one dreads being guarded by me,” he said. Morey confirmed as much: “That’s actually true. But for two reasons: (a) They don’t think anyone can guard them and (b) they really scoff at the notion Shane Battier could guard them. They all think his reputation exceeds his ability.” Even as Battier was being introduced in the arena, Ahmad Rashad was wrapping up his pregame report on NBA TV and saying, “Shane Battier will try to stop Kobe Bryant.” This caused the co-host Gary Payton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/gary_payton/index.html?inline=nyt-per) to laugh and reply, “Ain’t gonna happen,” and the other co-host, Chris Webber (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/chris_webber/index.html?inline=nyt-per), to add, “I think Kobe will score 50, and they’ll win by 19 going away.”

02-16-2009, 07:50 PM
thanks for the post. that was a very interesting article.

02-16-2009, 08:45 PM
No NBA player deserves eight whole pages on the NY Times. Especially not Shane Frickin' Battier.

02-16-2009, 10:14 PM
I had forgotten about Shane Battyair.

02-16-2009, 11:32 PM
Who does Battier play for again?

02-17-2009, 01:08 AM
No NBA player deserves eight whole pages on the NY Times. Especially not Shane Frickin' Battier."Deserve" has nothing to do with it.

You should read the entire story. Great find, thiggy. Best basketball article I have read in a long, long while.

02-17-2009, 09:08 AM
That was a great read. Thanks for posting jthig.