More than 98 percent of the statements in this column are true. That previous sentence was the exception. It was a lame example of a useless statistic. More than just conjectures, statistics feature a specificity that can have a powerful impact on our thinking about a particular topic. That first sentence is a glaring example of what can go wrong when they are not subjected to the proper scrutiny. Unlike Snapple Facts, however, most sports statistics don’t suffer from questionable veracity.
Lemonville sounds like a shady place to learn the ropes of investing, doesn’t it? As an economics major, I was taught to run the other way for fear of learning anything about lemons. On the other hand, if your crash course in investing came via headlines during the financial crisis, then perhaps you’ve been in Lemonville for longer than you’d care to admit. Or worse, if you still don’t know much about investing, then you might be stuck up Lemonville creek without a paddle.
If you’re an NBA player, sometimes there’s recognition for the sacrifices you make. To be exact, every year, at least one NBA owner rewards his team’s sacrifices in spectacular fashion — custom gold-encrusted rings laced with jewels. Of course that means most players come up empty-handed. Worse, it means that simply to have a real chance at recognition, sacrifice is necessary. But just how much is necessary?
On the eve of his retirement as commissioner of the NBA, among some other noteworthy legacies, David Stern will leave a residing impact on player fashion in the world’s premier basketball league.
Of the 313 individuals enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, 89 are coaches. So more than a quarter of the people who made basketball the way it is today did it from the sidelines. Well, in fairness, I suspect many of them spent their careers standing, yelling and waving their arms animatedly. But for the most part, pacing up and down the sidelines is as close to the action as they could have gotten. Granted, coaches have the ability to call timeouts, to call plays and to engineer overall strategy. But come game time, the hollering and hooting of coaches is background noise.
Back when the NFL locked out its players, the NFL Players’ Association emphasized that theirs was a union looking out for every NFL player, not just the superstars. To their point, they explained that on average, a player who tries out for an NFL roster has a career that lasts all of 3.3 years. Clearly, longevity is tough to bottle up in the NFL. Opportunities are fleeting, perhaps most constrained by the chance that the next hit, the next missed play, or the next loss could dismantle a team.
By the time the NBA season rolls around every October, I’ve had way too much time to tout all the potential it represents. Fortunately, winning basketball games is a moving target, so there are surprises when rubber finally does meet road for NBA teams. For example, high-profile teams that sputter out of the gate (hello, Lakers!) are derided as being talented only on paper — which is to say that the expectations fueled by previous performance fail to materialize in the new season. So how do we make sense of that gap between performance and expectations?