We're All So Close Together
Heading home tonight. I am tired, and I am weary, or maybe I'm just like Hannibal Lechter when he makes collect calls to the FBI from some unholy tourist trap. But I did feel the need to weigh in on the latest stats dust-up, such as it is. I'm not sure entirely what's going on; I know that the Recluse was flush with angst, and that the crux of the matter can be found here. It instantly brought me back to the great PER Wars of a few years back, when myself and Silverbird5000 tried to take on Ziller and Kevin Pelton. We lost, but it was funny. Let the record show that this was all motivated by an attempt to dismiss Lamar Odom's dismal PER; as many of you have probably already seen, Odom's a fuckin' love supreme when it comes to adjusted +/- . . .for the past two years, when the Lakers grew strong again. So on that most superficial level, I'm not out to get stats anymore.
I will say this, though: The serious stats people I commune with also have one foot firmly planted in the very same currents of the game that I call home. Maybe they don't look for cartoons and metaphors, but joyous subjectivity always seems an important part of their statistical inquiries. These judgments are either bolstered or critiqued by numbers that, unless you're a dummy, have an undeniable power. Ever watch a game, think someone's playing well, and then see they actually shot like shit? So it is with advanced stats and more subjective claims about how, in ways both spectral and booming, Battier-esque and Bron-tastic, certain players or teams impact us as viewers. Anyone looking only at old numbers is as bad as the mythic ballhog who looks only at his points total; focusing solely on the new numbers is to imagine the game as an series of iterations that have no cohesion, will, or identity to guide them.
Which is to say, it all comes down to watching the game with some measure of both passion and sensitivity. Stats force you to think with greater sophistication, in terms of both aesthetics and matters most technical, lest stats overthrow your judgments. Maybe this is one man's attempt to come to terms with the way that numbers have begun to overrun this least quantifiable of sports. For that reason alone, though, I look to them as supplementary tools, ways of clarifying what the trained eye can already see. And yes, there is something vindicating about the ways in which some FD darlings have performed surprisingly well in this new realm.
It points toward some unified life force we can all share together, and makes me realize I've either been transformed or ruined by this ambitious book.
(NOTE: Said life force would be just one of the many episodes/stepping stones that crop up in Revolution in Mind. It's the interplay of outlooks that I'm feeling sorely affected by.)