A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Julius Erving

What IS “feel for the game”, anyways?

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Erving Lipofsky

Erving Lipofsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A concept I’ve been hammering on lately is “feel for the game”. Most people have knowledge that this exists – clearly there’s something that makes Paul Pierce, James Harden, Chris Paul and Andre Miller natural basketball players and Jordan Hill, Jerryd Bayless, Tyrus Thomas, Yi Jianlian not natural players, for reasons that goes beyond pure skill. Some people just call it basketball intelligence. For the most part, you can kind of just see it when a player has a great feel for the game or not.

But what is it? Pragmatically, can we nail down exactly what is happening here? What is the cause of “feel for the game”?

First of all, I’d point out that what is called “feel for the game” in sports, for many other fields is the only thing that matters in regards to talent. Take the example of an incredibly talented painter, writer, singer, actor, comedian – Most accept there is no direct “cause” of this talent. It’s just they have a particular feel and natural affinity for their craft that others don’t. For whatever reason, their genetics and environment conditioning lined up perfectly for them to be one of the best in the world at what they do. What many talented people say of crafts like this is that it comes easy to them. That’s what makes their work beautiful, the fact that it came naturally out of them and without effort and we can tell. These natural talents are just accepted for what they are. The painter or writer or comedian just has a natural feel for his craft that others don’t, period. This is one reason why “feel for the game” in sports should not be a shocking concept. There is a precedent in every other area of talent that sets up the possibility for basketball players being naturally gifted at the sport “just because they are”.

But if searching for a pragmatic reason, I believe the concept of “spatial intelligence” is key to understand the talents these players have. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

The Perennial Snubbing of Artis Gilmore

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Artis Gilmore 1970

Image by Vedia via Flickr

The basketball Hall of Fame announced their 2011 finalists for induction yesterday, and the big snub everyone’s talking about is Reggie Miller. I think people are overreacting there. You’ve got people who seem to think this means Miller will never get in the Hall, and even extrapolating about what the snubbing means for Ray Allen. It’s as if people have no experience with players not getting in to Halls of Fame on their first year of eligibility. I personally won’t be alarmed unless we go a few years without him getting into the Hall.

With everyone in a mood for snub-based outrage though, let me take the opportunity to shed some light on the elephant in the room: Artis Gilmore. Gilmore retired over 20 years ago, and he’s not on the HOF voters’ radar. Short of something major changing, he’s not getting in the Hall, and this folks, is completely and utterly indefensible.

Artis Gilmore in the ABA

Any discussion of Gilmore’s accomplishments has to start out with the ABA. Gilmore hit the league and took it by storm. His combination of 7’2″ size with tremendous leaping ability made him a devastatingly effective shotblocker. In the words of Rick Barry:

Artis Gilmore was incredibly agile and was just an amazing shot blocker. In fact, I’ve had him on my radio show a couple times, and I think that he stopped blocking some of the shots because they were calling goaltending on him. I don’t think that anybody had ever seen anything like that and they figured that he had to be goaltending, that you can’t possibly block somebody’s jump shot.

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Greatest SRS Improvements in NBA History; Notable Players & Coaches

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I wanted to follow up on the Fall of the Cavaliers post, where I posted the 10 greatest falls in NBA history.

First, I compiled that list, and the list below by hand.  It’s possible I missed teams, especially those from defunct franchises.  I’d welcome any corrections.

The 10 greatest SRS improvements in NBA history and the notable changes those teams:

Note that the improvements from Oakland and New Jersey (known at the time as New York) occurred in the ABA before their NBA-ABA merger.

Seeing these top 10s obviously begs the question of who was involved in multiple massive changes in team performances.  Observations I’ve made looking at SRS changes of 6 or greater (which is roughly the 100 biggest changes in history):

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The Retro Player of the Year Project

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I’ve just finished running a project on the RealGM called the Retro Player of the Year (RPOY).  I think it was one hell of a project, so I want to give y’all a summary of it.

–          The idea behind the RPOY was that the NBA MVP award isn’t good enough. It only factors in the regular season, and really, the award that everyone wants when they do comparisons of players is an all-season Player of the Year award.

–          Now, this isn’t strictly an MVP for all seasons, because that wouldn’t work.  If the guy who has the best regular season is on a mediocre team, he’s not going to contribute as much value to his team in the playoffs as the star of the champion, so you’ve got to be a bit less literal than that.  The need for some fuzziness opens the door to people voting with different philosophies, but really that happens with the MVP any way. And still, we kept a focus where voting had to be based on what a player actually did that year, not what he could conceivably have done in the right circumstances. If a guy has a down year in the middle of his prime, even he was dealing with a moron of a coach and a tyrant of an owner – he suffers in this project.

–          RealGM is a website that has a variety of things on it, but the flagship of the public facing end of it is the basketball message boards.  I strongly believe they have the best basketball message boards on the internet, which is why I’ve been a moderator for them for several years.

–          The voting panel was semi-open.   By that I mean, at the beginning of the project, I let in all established posters from the site who wanted to be included, but afterward I only let in posters who impressed me.  I won’t claim that the members of the panel were necessarily the most prestigious of folks compared to actual MVP voters.  However, there were some powerhouses in this project I feel privileged to have been able to work with, and if you look at the votes, I think you’ll find that there are less “crazy votes” than what you see in a typical MVP vote.

–          The project took about 6 months to complete, starting from the ’08-09 season, and going back to the beginning of the shot clock era, with one digression to evaluate ’09-10 after the Lakers won their second title in a row.

Without further ado:  Here is a site made for the project which displays and tabulates the results, and here is the main message board page for the project.

Now, some results, and some thoughts on all this:

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