Charles Barkley Is Not a Fan of Analytics
On Monday I said that Charles Barkley should replace Lee Corso on College Gameday. My rationale was simple, he's the most entertaining person on sports television. On Tuesday night Barkley gave us more evidence why that's the case going after Houston's general manager Daryl Morey after Morey criticized him on Twitter. It's an entertaining clip which I'm embedding below.
I'm not sure what Morey expected here when he sent that Tweet. You know TNT will share the Tweet, right? You come at the king you best not miss.
And he missed.
As a result Barkley walloped him to entertaining result. (Special bonus points here for Shaquille O'Neal attempting to use the word vitriol).
The reality is both of these guys are right. I'm sick of people who want to beat the Malcolm Gladwell talent doesn't matter drum. You guys are the real idiots. Talent matters a great deal. In all aspects of life, but especially in high level sports. Let's use the NBA for example, at birth 98% of us aren't ever going to be tall enough to ever play in the NBA. So all that time you and I spent perfecting our fadeaways with dreams of winning titles was void at our birth. If you're not going to be 6'3" or taller, you pretty much have no shot at playing in the NBA. So the vast majority of us are out of the draft based on the genetic lottery. Height is rare, height coupled with extreme athleticism is even rarer. Talent matters.
But what about when the talent is relatively equal and you're trying to decide who to spend your money on in pro basketball? You need a metric other than the eye test, right? Especially in today's NBA where you can only sign a couple of max contract players and then you have to supplement them with the best values. Not everyone can go sign LeBron James. But everyone has to find a way to beat him? So how do you do that? You try to do it with analytics. So Morey's right that analytics matter.
The reality of this spat is that both Barkley and Morey will return to their respective fan bases and both sides will tell them that they won. Barkley's group will pat him on the back and thank him for lighting up the stat nerds and Morey's group will roll their eyes and say that Barkley's just a dumb athlete. Each man strengthens their base and enrages their critics.
Again, neither of these arguments is true, but it makes for great television. Remember, despite what the angry Twitter mobs will tell you, THIS IS SPORTS, NONE OF IT REALLY MATTERS VERY MUCH. IT'S ENTERTAINMENT.
We all love to watch disagreements. If they're disagreements that also happen to be funny, even better. That's why Barkley is TV gold. He's the rare analyst who doesn't care who he pisses off with his opinion. In an ocean of easily offended people -- this is the least offensive era in American history yet simultaneously it's the most easily offended -- somehow Barkley continues to be able to get away with the equivalent of TV murder. Who else in televised sports can accuse all the women of San Antonio of being fat and gain popularity? I love him.
One additional thought: if Morey's talent is numbers just like Barkley's talent is basketball, isn't Morey doing the exact same thing -- exploiting his talent to the best of his ability -- that Barkley and the rest of the top NBA players did during their careers? Don't hate the player, Chuck, hate the game.
Also, if he wanted to return fire, Morey might also want to point out that chicks don't like the math nerd in high school. So prom can be rough. But once he's really rich in his late 20's or early 30's? He tends to do pretty well for himself.
If Morey Tweeted, "You're right, Charles, staying home for prom was rough. But post high school has been great. Turns out, chicks dig guys who are great at math."