Friday Bullets

  • ESPN's Stats and Analysis group e-mails: "There are fewer fouls being called, but the average number of disqualifications per game has declined at a much higher rate than the number of fouls. Maybe refs are hesitant or even forgiving when it comes to blowing the whistle on a player with five fouls?"

  • More on Josh Nochimson -- the former UConn manager at the center of the UConn recruiting mess. I have heard from several people who say Nochimson has done plenty of good for the players he has been associated with. I have also heard from people who hold him up as exhibit A in what's wrong with basketball. Both could be true. Caring for young players who aren't getting the support they need from their families is no small thing. But it all comes down to: What's the reason for cultivating those relationships? (And even more about it.) UPDATE: And more.

  • UPDATE: LeBron James casually making a very long shot for 60 Minutes cameras.

  • Benjamin Golliver of BlazersEdge wants more e-mail, and writes: "During Thursday morning's podcast I mentioned that Steve Nash has lost a step and I was sure I was going to get emails from Suns fans. 17 hours later. Zero emails. Not a peep. I think what we saw out there tonight might explain why no Suns fans rushed to his defense. He looked sluggish, not particularly interested, and totally unconcerned whether his passes, no matter how intelligently conceived, actually found the mark. Multiple times his turnovers led to leakouts. Tough stuff to watch if you're a Suns fans, particularly given the fond memories."

  • Chris Tomasson is one of a growing number of laid off NBA beat writers, but he's not sitting around feeling sorry for himself. He's one of a group launching a new web-based Denver news site (as mentioned on Roundball Mining Company), and he has already used the platform to interview Louis Amundson, who calls Nene a dirty player, and a fake tough guy. Amundson also makes an interesting point -- saying Nene headbutted him and nobody noticed. So the next time Nene laid hands on him, he admits he flopped somewhat, in the hopes of getting a call.

  • Mark Cuban writes: "It was a sad moment. Yesterday, prior to the Mavs - Warriors game I went through my pre game routine on the Gauntlet. Over the years the number of people asking me questions has varied from game to game. From as many as 10 to as of yesterday, one. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News was there to ask some questions. There weren't bloggers. There weren't wire service writers. Just Eddie. ... what would happen if our local papers shut down and went online only? How would we reach the casual fan that wont invest time to go to the online sports section or the Mavs website? Its a possibility I have to figure out how to deal with today."

  • Years ago, I was asking around about jazz pianists, and a good friend gave me this CD. It is not really my style, but it has a certain something hypnotic about it, and I have listened to it a zillion times ... when my wife is not home. She thinks it's Muzak. Anyway, it says here that Keith Jarrett is Rick Carlisle's favorite musician.

  • An article about games, and game theory. Part of the idea is that some games are "solved." You can play technically perfect blackjack, checkers, or tic-tac-toe. Some poker players are employing data-driven optimal strategies, although that game is far from solved, in large part thanks to the art of the bluff. So, looking far into the future, and recognizing that people have long looked foolish for underestimating technology ... can you envision a day when basketball is "solved?" When everyone knows this or that substitution, defense, or play call is provably correct in certain situations? UPDATE: That article is really about the poker legend Chris Ferguson, who is one of the most accomplished mathematical thinkers UCLA has ever seen. Turns out that TrueHoop reader Brian, a really smart guy in his own right, was Ferguson's officemate as they both got their PhD's. He e-mails: "The cards have been the same in that game since time immemorial. And even in poker, which is pretty well circumscribed, despite all the bluffing and the tells, you can't ever prove the game solved. Proof is a very strong word. You can make enough assumptions to prove it, I suppose, but then surely someone will come along to break those assumptions. People are very clever that way. And it's even more so with basketball, because even the 'cards' (the players, the things that actually go head-to-head with one another) change. They get more athletic, they care less about FT shooting (allegedly), they sign bigger contracts and have more distractions, etc. I will go out on a not-so-big limb and say that someone will prove basketball unsolvable, much more likely than that they will prove it solved."

  • TrueHoop reader Jay e-mails: "Dwyane Wade is the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 500 assists, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in a season. He's also the first player in NBA history listed at 6'4'' or under to record at least 100 blocks in a season. I think these two accomplishments deserve some sort of merit and they have not been talked about at all. What he is doing on both sides of the court is amazing. Michael Jordan won the defensive player of the year award with 250+ steals and 100+ blocks. Dwight Howard is great and deserves merit, but what Wade is doing on the defensive end is nothing short of fantastic." I have two thoughts about this: On the one hand, Wade could not be better. Agreed. I mean, the man seems to able to do whatever he wants out there. On the other hand: We need to have some kind of moratorium on new statistical categories. 2,000/500/100/100? 6-4 with 100 blocks? Last summer, did anyone think those were important milestones? These are retrofit stats -- they only matter because somebody did them and they are now unique. But in the big sweep of history, will this be the thing to remember Wade by? How many super-obscure stat achievements he manages? I'd argue he should be feared much more for this and a zillion other plays like it.

  • Amazing that at age 36, and after all those injuries, Grant Hill may (knock wood) play 82 games for the first time in his career. (Although he has played 80 twice, and 81 once.)

  • Keyon Dooling went to Missouri. His Net teammate Chris Douglas-Roberts didn't, and last night Missouri dashed Memphis' title hopes. Dooling blogs on the Nets' website about Dou
    : "He is Mr. Memphis, so we have a little conversation going on. I'll leave it at that."

  • Brandon Roy got Shaquille O'Neal's shoes after last night's game. He says he's going to give them to his two-year-old son, because, "I want him to know who Shaq was." Was? Whoa. I mean I get it -- the kid will be 15 one day and enjoy those shoes. But wonder if Roy knows it comes off like the zinger of the day. Also from Jason Quick's Oregonian locker room report is a Channing Frye line. Coming off the court after some warm-up shooting Frye spotted a reporter sitting at his locker. Frye's greeting: "You farting in my chair?"

  • Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, reportedly scuffling at a Bar Mitzvah with a former employee. (Reported yesterday here.)

  • Probably my favorite series of NBA commercials ever features videos like the one below (via 48 Minutes of Hell). In there is a big chunk of what I love about basketball. But in this particular one, starring Manu Ginobili, is also demonstrates the issue at the core of my recent traveling series, that upsets a lot of fans and Walt Frazier. Ginobili gathers the ball with his right foot down, near the free throw line, and then takes two big power steps, without dribbling, before launching the shot. NBA referees are instructed that's legal, even though the rulebook has never allowed it. It matters what NBA fans think about this. It may or may not become what the rulebook allows -- it could also be something that referees stop allowing: