Prophets of the Conversations with Tyler

From before the season started:

COWEN: The Milwaukee Bucks last year won, I believe, 44 games, and in the NBA, they were in the bottom third for the number of three-pointers attempted. Why should we think they might do better this year?

[Ben] THOMPSON: Because they had the worst coach in the league, by far, and he is gone, and now they have a new coach. They actually have the best shot profile in the entire league in the preseason, which is shooting threes or shooting shots at the rim. They are 89 percent or something like that.

They are going to have a great year. Giannis is going to win MVP. It’s going to be amazing, and we, being Bucks Twitter, is going to spend the whole time telling everyone that we were right and they were wrong.

That is from my Conversation with Ben Thompson.  The Bucks are now 9-2, and two nights ago they beat the world champion Golden State Warriors.


no idea what any of this means

They are not world champions.

I played a little basketball when we were all soccer players. OK I suppose, though not a patch on indoors five-a-side. Then we all swapped to rugby. Basketball became unplayable because it turned into a series of rolling mauls. That was far more fun but seemed to be precluded by the rules. Rather girlie!

The Canadian chap who invented basketball has much to answer for.

Can Ben define great year? I'm thinking 55 wins.

Ilyasova can't sustain. Henson, Bledsoe too. Defenses will adjust. Close on shooters. Though that increases Giannis mvp chances - less help D, more points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek-born Nigerian, who probably speaks Greek better than me, but he's not mixed race, so he cannot by definition by exceptional (on that basis). I did meet a Nigerian in Greece who had a Greek wife and kids, albeit separated, and my Athens neighbor, a Greek white, married a Kenya woman (my spell-check keeps wanting to make it into "Keynesian") and sired issue. Giannis got no support from the Greek state until after he became famous, typical of the Greeks for whom mingling with non-Greeks is still taboo (ancient Greeks called non-Greeks "barbarians" since they make a sounds like "bar bar bar" when they talk, like the lyrics in the song Walk Like An Egyptian). Technically, a non-Greek spouse can never become a full Greek citizen, they only get permanent resident visas every five years, almost always automatically renewed.

Bonus trivia: Michelle and Barrack Obama had both their kids with IVF, she in her mid-30s and he in his late-30s, very brave of her to admit that, which in American society I think is still taboo.

What's with the Greek aversion for bicycle racing? All over Europe men and women race bikes but Greek females are discouraged from even riding them casually. There are no prominent male Greek cyclists. They must consider travel by bicycle, even in a sporting context, beneath them.

You got me chuck martel. I think they even have a velodrome from the 2004 Olympics, but nobody uses it.

Bonus trivia: UK's "magic wheels"! Doping via mechanical engineering.

Little premature for a victory lap.

You mean NBA champions. I don’t remember there being a world championship like in soccer, where there is an actual world champion.
They would have been champions, but no reason to be US-centric

I don't think the "World" Cup has ever had a team from Antarctica, nor from any of the oceans. Are they really "world" champions then?

Every player in the world is eligible to play in the NBA. Sure, other leagues might also have global player pools too. But, that would just mean that we have multiple competing global leagues, not that the NBA champion is not (a) world champion. Then, the only question that would remain would be whether the NBA is indeed better and a higher quality league than its competitors. That would seem to be the case. Similarly, for Major League Baseball and the NFL.

Even though the rules are somewhat different, the NFL champion could probably defeat the Canadian Football League Grey Cup champ playing either version. We can't know how the Super Bowl winner would do against the Argentine, Chinese or Russian champions. By the way, "American" football was invented by the Canadians. First college football game: University of Toronto, 1861. First US college football game, Rutgers-Princeton 1869.

How many Jason Kidds in other fields are out there that need be replaced?

The Cavs just got rid of one.

There are 10+ Jason Kidds who regularly comment on this blog.

Americans and their "World Series". Americans are short-sighted, provicial people. As famous German writer Thomas Mann pointed out, Americans are philistine conformists. Yes, I said philistines.

What's the least valuable thing on earth? Obviously, a first quarter NBA score. Maybe somebody should investigate the establishment of an index that measures the level of excitement generated by an NBA free throw. In basketball, even in the NBA, the team that shoots the most free throws almost always wins the game. Pseudo sports fans grumble about the pace of baseball but never seem to object to the free throw parade that is basketball. Why is there a rule against "traveling" in basketball if it's never enforced? Isn't it interesting that almost everything in basketball, throw-ins, moving the ball across the "time" line, time in the lane, and on and on, is supposedly accurately measured by an official?

So cranky!! No wonder Charlemagne turned out so poorly with a grandad like you.

I feel like players who take a lot of free throws get a disproportionate amount of crap from fans (e.g. James Harden).

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the the top public intellectual of our time followed by LeBron James, Chrissy Teigen, and Jim Carrey.

Ahem, ignoring a certain presidential God-Emperor philosopher king aren't we?

Actually, even their 9-2 record understates their performance so far.

How bad a coach was Jason Kidd? On two occasions he instructed his players to intentionally miss a free through with 2 seconds left and the Bucks leading by 3 points.

Has a hall of fame level player ever been a good NBA coach? The best ones seem to be borderline NBA players (Phil Jackson) or even more guys who never even played in the NBA (Larry Brown).

The really great players usually make bad coaches, because the game came so naturally to them. Magic Johnson, Kidd, Larry Bird all bad to mediocre coaches. Michael Jordan is a terrible GM. Etc.

Bird was a successful head coach, though I don’t think he was a particularly good one. He selected into an advantageous situation. Kidd was legitimately awful as a head coach.

But consider that better players are likely to get head coaching gigs directly, without coming up the ladder of assistant coaching and learning along the way. Whereas Luke Walton, a thoroughly mediocre player, spent time as an assistant first, without which he would not have been successful.

I don't think anyone who watches NBA closely is surprised they are good. Maybe not this good, but still.

Tyler, I don't know if there'd be a very wide audience, but as long as you're talking about basketball to dudes named Ben with paywalled blogs, I'd be fascinated to hear a conversation with Ben Falk of Cleaning the Glass.

Don't follow the NBA now but do fondly recall the original 1968 Bucks squad. Too bad for mad bombers Jon McGlocklin and Flynn Robinson that there was no 3-pointer back then

Wow, Tyler Cowen, this is awesome; goes on for ever , the positive side of info-overload!

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