Adam Silver headlined the last panel of the first day of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and among the topics the NBA commissioner discussed was the future ability of fans to watch an NBA game from a first-person virtual perspective.
Companies such as Samsung and Oculus are making it possible for consumers to experience events in revolutionary ways, and Silver believes it could be key to reach billions of global NBA fans who would never have the opportunity to see a game in person.
"It's not a substitute for the real, live communal experience of being in a building with thousands of people," Silver said. "Arenas are modern-day town halls . . . But I think it really has an ability to change what it means from a media standpoint for what we can provide to our fans."
Could the day come when you purchase a digital courtside seat?
Elsewhere . . .
Shane Battier may have been the MVP of Day 1. The former NBA player spoke on three panels and punctuated his support of advanced analytics in basketball with droll anecdotes from his playing career.
One of his best stories took place during the early 2000s, when he played for Hubie Brown's Memphis Grizzlies. The nascent idea of advanced stats was becoming a popular topic of conversation, so Brown gathered his team together and told them he knew the real secret to winning basketball.
As the staff and players leaned forward, ready to take notes, Brown took to the chalkboard:
"If you do not have good players," Brown wrote, "you will not win."
Later, Battier discussed the motivation superstars add to a team.
"Peer pressure is the most powerful force on a sports team," Battier said. In his experience, he said, players like Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett raise the level of their entire teams just by example.
Overheard at Sloan
“The two keys in fourth-grade girls’ basketball are this: Can you make a layup, and do all of your players show up? Because if all 10 show up, you have to play them equally, but if you can convince two that they’re really sick ... your two best players play three quarters. That’s how you win at fourth-grade girls’ basketball.” -- ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, embarking on a tangential rant about Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive
"Are you worried your shrimp cocktail on the plane is going to be a little bit warmer?" -- Former head coach Mike D'Antoni, on the concerns of travel fatigue on NBA players
"To be honest with you, they're doing great things with therapy. I'm good." D'Antoni in response to a fan question of whether coaching Carmelo Anthony's ball-stopping tendencies gave him "nightmares"
"This is the panel I’m moderating because, as Charles Barkley put it, I couldn’t get girls in high school.” -- ESPN The Magazine writer Pablo Torre, having a little fun with Barkley's recent comments about basketball's stat nerds