Thanks to Kerry Seed for pointing out this WIRED article that chronicles how it is basketball stat guru Dean Oliver came to work for the Seattle Sonics. According to writer Hugo Lindgren, it all has to do with team President and CEO Wally Walker.
Walker noticed Oliver's insights even before Oliver published Basketball on Paper, a mix of number crunching and animated commentary for which he received a $5,000 advance. While most other basketball researchers mainly rank individual players, Oliver tried to decipher the mysteries of team dynamics. Through a Sonics scout, he heard that Walker liked some of his work and, during the 2002-03 season, started sending him detailed game reports.
"Maybe one out of 10 emails, Wally would reply," Oliver says. "But he never told me to stop." After more than a year, Walker offered him a one-season contract. It was just $30,000 and no benefits, but it made Dean Oliver, 36, a major-league geek.