“Who is the greater evil, Starchilde… I, the devourer of life that has run its course… or you, who denies existence to generations of the future?” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds
I went to the library a few days ago. A little bit of a confession: I went to find a book on sports writing, preferably something that could teach me how to better use stats in my weekly column. I’m not really a “stats guy.” I could tell you that the Mavs were out-rebounded last night, 62-43, and I know that’s bad. That is bad, right? Kidding. I can handle the most basic box score stats. However, once the numbers start flying, calculating efficiency ratings over a ten-game spread for when so-and-so is only playing 20 minutes or less, I get confused. For the benefit of The Two Man Game reader, you have other well-qualified contributors on that masthead. For my Tuesday column, you’ll get something a little more of whatever it is that I bring to the table — wild predictions and haphazard insight into a player’s psyche? (Side note to my side note: I have created “The Galactus Bump.” Whenever I write about a player, the next week, they play better. I offer Dominique Jones as exhibit A.)
So, I’m at the library. I couldn’t find a magical “understanding stats” book. I’m sure it exists. Share your suggestions in the comments section. However, I did find this gem called The Encyclopedia of Pro Basketball Team Histories, written by Peter C. Bjarkman, Ph.D. (who refers to himself as “Doctor Basketball”), which was published in 1994. In this book, Doctor Basketball devotes a chapter to each NBA team and explains why they are terrible, except the Celtics and Lakers. Then, he includes an epilogue on a dozen of basketball’s greatest heroes. I like how he refers to Magic Johnson as “Magic” Johnson. And he must remind readers that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also known as Lew Alcindor. Because apparently, most people remember him as Lew?
I skipped all the other chapters to the one about the Mavs (page 387). Oh, how things have changed in Dallas. With Thanksgiving two days away, find this book, read this chapter and give thanks that Doctor Basketball did not write the final chapter on the Dallas Mavericks. I’d like to share a few of my favorite moments from this dreadful accounting.