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Friday, February 28, 2014
Overheard at Sloan, 2014 edition

By Timothy Varner
Special to ESPN.com

Did they really say that?


“We doctored the numbers all the time.”
-- Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers, on his time as an agent. He and his agents would selectively present info to make their free agent look most appealing to NBA suitors.

“When [Shaquille O’Neal] came off the court after four games, I stood him up and asked him ‘What’s the greatest thing Wilt Chamberlain did?’ … He liked stats, so he said ‘He averaged 50 points per game.’ I said ‘Pretty good, but not quite. He played 48 minutes a game. Could you do that?’ … Tried it for six games, he didn’t like it so much. Then, he got in shape.”
-- Former NBA head coach Phil Jackson, on getting Shaq into shape

“Statisticians can be very convinced they’re right. Occasionally, they can be so convinced that they argue for their own quirky position without listening to the people who represent the consensus they’re railing against.”
-- Researchers of “The Hot Hand: A New Approach to an Old ‘Fallacy’

“American sports are socialist.”
-- FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver

Daryl Morey Explains It all


Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey spoke at a few panels today and had a lot to say:


“Every single NBA team has someone working on analytics right now.”

“Hardest innovation to sell to the coaching staff is the loss of control -- Europe/college have a lot of set plays, control, instrumenting the game. For a lot of coaches, giving up that control is difficult.“

On what he told Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban after mistakenly thinking Dwight Howard would sign with the Golden State Warriors:

"I was like, 'Well, you're not getting Dwight Howard. Can you trade us Dirk Nowitzki?' It was a bad moment for me." -

Before realizing Howard had already told the Mavericks, but not yet the Rockets, that he’d sign with Houston:

“Mark [Cuban] thought I was taunting him!”

On the eureka moment he and the Rockets figured out to how to create the Poison Pill contract for Jeremy Lin:

“Whoa! Five Minute Abs!”

On instituting retreats and having ‘trust falls’ for NBA general managers to build confidence in one another:

“I’ll catch Jerry West!”

Coaches’ Corner


“Coaches tend to be control freaks. They overuse strategies that give them the illusion of control. But chaos is very useful. If you’re on offense and you can create chaos, it’ll lead to a breakdown and you can score. … Great coaches have tolerance for creating chaos.”
-- Bill James, sabermetrics pioneer


“Having Dennis Rodman ended up being one of the best things of my career, because of his incredible athleticism. Also, his incredible weirdness.”
-- Former NBA head coach Phil Jackson

“I don't think my team can beat anyone playing a run-down grind-it-out basketball game, whether it's in the playoffs or the regular season. Playing fast takes out concepts and philosophies of the defence -- it becomes a reactionary game. There are a lot of great coaches in the NBA, [and] when the game speeds up, coaching becomes less important."
-- Former NBA head coach George Karl

"The only numbers I trust are the numbers my people keep."
-- Former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy

“Rajon Rondo is really into statistics and analytics. If he knew this was going on, he might show up. Heck, he might be in the audience.”
-- Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens

“Memphis grew up last year, [and] I think they threw it all out by firing their coach -- … hey, is John Hollinger out there?”
-- Karl

“Derrick Rose might be too explosive for his own good.”
-- Van Gundy

“The most important thing we can do tonight is smile.”
-- Stevens