This profile of Shane Battier by the ever-insightful Michael Lewis from 2009, is riveting in its examination of Battier and Rockets GM Daryl Morey. The analytics movement in basketball has certainly changed the way the game is played by the players, analyzed by the front office guys and hoops addicts alike. This piece sheds light on how unusual players, like Battier, helped enable that transition from the traditional ways of seeing the game, as recently as 2009, to the hiring of analytics-heavy thinkers like John Hollinger and Sam Hinkie (who was an understudy of Morey’s in Houston) in Memphis and Philadelphia. Michael Lewis’ spotlight on Morey feels similar to his study of the Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beans. Moneyball and Moreyball.
“The No-Stats All-Star” by Michael Lewis, 2/15/09, New York Times Magazine
Out of Duke University. . . . A 6-foot-8-inch forward. . . .He had more or less admitted to me that this part of his job left him cold. ‘It’s the same thing every day,’ he said, as he struggled to explain how a man on the receiving end of the raging love of 18,557 people in a darkened arena could feel nothing. “If you had filet mignon every single night, you’d stop tasting it.”
To him the only pleasure in these sounds — the name of his beloved alma mater, the roar of the crowd — was that they marked the end of the worst part of his game day: the 11 minutes between the end of warm-ups and the introductions. Eleven minutes of horsing around and making small talk with players on the other team. All those players making exaggerated gestures of affection toward one another before the game, who don’t actually know one another, or even want to. “I hate being out on the floor wasting that time,” he said. “I used to try to talk to people, but then I figured out no one actually liked me very much.” Instead of engaging in the pretense that these other professional basketball players actually know and like him, he slips away into the locker room.
To read the rest, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/magazine/15Battier-t.html?
This profile of 5’7″ Kiwi Gardner had me reminiscing about Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, my favorite NBA player under 6-feet-tall in league history. Sam Laird writes the story for Mashable.
The Ballad of Kiwi Gardner by Sam Laird, http://www.mashable.com, 11/25/13
IT’S MEMORIAL DAY 2009. Inside Cupertino High’s dimly lit gymnasium, two traveling teams of teenage basketball stars tip off in the championship game of a weekend tournament. Local hoop-heads have pined for this matchup, which pits the underdog Bay Area Hoosiers against the Drew Gooden Soldiers, the West Coast’s storied club basketball kings.
The Soldiers are sponsored by an NBA player. They count LeBron James among alumni and regularly showcase the nation’s top hoops talent to elite college coaches. This year’s edition features the Bay Area’s best young players along with ringers brought in from out of state, prospects who will go on to be ranked among the country’s best basketball recruits and who will play in All-American games.
But as the game gets underway, another player steals the show. The Hoosiers’ tiny point guard is a slender high school sophomore from East Oakland named Kiwi Gardner. He stands just 5’7″ tall. A mop of short dreadlocks bounces atop his head. He throws no-look passes, leaves defenders lurching at crossover dribbles and spins to the basket, racking up points and assists.
To read the rest, click here: http://mashable.com/2013/11/25/kiwi-gardner-basketball-youtube/