Sunday, September 9, 2012

Your Annotated Smartphone Bathroom Reader for Sunday, September 9, 2012.

Happy NFL Season Kickoff Day. Go Niners!  May they clean up like TrueHoop did this week.

Mark Cuban Pipes up for Chris Kaman
Henry Abbott

Henry Abbot offers his thoughts on what became the biggest kerfuffle in a slow news week in the NBA blogosphere: when Mark Cuban, the multi-billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, stopped by a well-read blog, and let his views on advanced stats be known.   The Wages of Wins Journal, a favorite here at The Diss, posted a neat study about the efficient centers who don't play much versus inefficient centers that play a lot, complete with some very Wages of Win-sy type graphs that I don't really understand.  Mark Cuban read the article and commented.  He shared his negative opinion of "Wins Produced" (which is sort of the one ring of power when it comes to advanced stats geeks), and questioned the accuracy of a number-based study, based upon their critical analysis of new Mavericks center Chris Kaman.  What followed was a good ol' fashioned internet flame war between some of the heavy-hitters in stat-based basketball blogging and a man whose personal wealth exceeds the GDPs of most countries.  What sticks out to me, both from Abbott's analysis, and the flame war on TWOW itself, is how personally prominent bloggers take their work, and how staunchly they will defend it to anyone.  I'll say this: if an NBA owner visited my blog, and commented on something I wrote, they could say whatever the hell they wanted, and I'd probably agree with them.  A pushover, I am.

- JG 

No Team, No Ticket Sales, but Plenty of Cash
Richard Sandomir
The New York Times

Any fans of the St. Louis Spirits in the house?  No?  Well, maybe you should get on the bandwagon, because their owners have plenty of cash to spend on potential players down the road.  Richard Sandomir of The New York Times tells the story of brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silna, who used to own the Spirits of St. Louis, an ABA team.  When the ABA and NBA merged in 1974, the Spirits didn't make the cut.  Sandomir explains that each ABA owner got some sort of consolation prize from the NBA for not getting a spot in the bigger NBA.  While most owners opted for a lump sum payment of between $6-$8 million dollars, the Brothers Silna instead negotiated a deal where they'd get a percentage of any future television money generated by the four ABA franchises that entered the league -- the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and New York/New Jersey Nets -- for as long as those teams existed.  These days, the NBA is doing quite well, and so are the Silmas.  Sandomir reports that, to date, those two men have received over $255 million from the league in TV royalties.  This is sort of akin to a basketball Clare Torry, aka the woman who wails her heart out on Pink Floyd's "Great Big Gig in the Sky", and who not-so-wisely accepted a 30-pound flat fee for her services back in 1973 while recording Dark Side of the Moon.  Always go for payments.  It means there's more than one.

- JG

Change is Scary, Sarunas
Ethan Sherwood-Strauss

Somewhere, likely at the bottom of a disintegrating cardboard box in my parents garage, lies a Sarunas Marciulionis autographed napkin.  As one of a handful of pioneering Europeans, he is partially responsible for the flood of Europeans that now call the NBA home, yet he remains relatively obscure outside of the Bay Area.  Like the autograph my father scored for a 5-year old Franklin (or, more likely, his older brother), Marciulionis deserves better.  Sherwood-Strauss explores the Euro-step, a move popularized by Manu Ginobili and now used at every level of basketball, and Marciulionis' role in its development.  But Sherwood-Strauss' larger narrative, and the part of the piece that resonated most with me, is his desire for more innovation in basketball.  Amen.

- FM
Nelson: 'Luckiest Guy in the World'
Marc Stein

One of the most important figures in Warriors history is Don Nelson, who led the team to success in the late 80s and early 90s, and rejoined the team from 2007-2010.  Nellie can be credited for many wacky concepts and moments that have captivated the NBA -- Run-TMC, the "point forward", and small ball are but a few -- and he is also the NBA's winningest coach.  Yet he is a polarizing figure who has been difficult to work with and has usually left his old jobs with nearly everyone angry at him.  This past weekend Nellie was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, so everything about Nellie, from the good to the bad, have been on public display and viewed under a critical magnifying glass.  To Nellie's credit, he has always been very open to discussing his past, and has a very fair and balanced view of his mistakes.  This interview with ESPN's Marc Stein highlights this aspect of Nellie's personality.  We learn a few surprising things about Nellie (mostly that he never really wanted to become a head coach in the first place, and that he'd choose his Bob Lanier-anchored Bucks over his other teams), but mostly, we remember that Nellie is a pretty cool guy.  Congrats on the HOF, you drunken weirdo.

-   JG
Art Modell and National Revisionist History
Waiting for Next Year

Cleveland is one of those mythical tortured sports cities whose fans get off on self-flagellating because of "how difficult" it is to root for bad sports teams.  One of the key moments in the Spanish Inquisition that is Cleveland sports fandom was when owner Art Modell moved the Browns (in the middle of the night, or so the legend goes) to Baltimore.  Modell owned a football team for 43 years, so when he died a couple of days ago, tributes poured in from around the country, which really stuck in the craw of those Clevelanders who still feel betrayed by Modell.  TD offers a voice for those fans, explaining to the uninformed national media why Modell deserves no plaudits for his ownership.  Watch out, Brothers Maloof.

- FM

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