TrueHoop: Mike Kurylo

Is having Michael Jordan as owner-operator in Charlotte more than just a conflict of interest? Speaking of Carolina guards -- does the acquisition of Ty Lawson mean the end of Anthony Carter's days in Denver? And what does organized chaos on the court look like at the junior high level? 

Michael JordanRob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "In spite of all of [Michael] Jordan's reasonable success in the recent past, having him as the head of an ownership group is not only ill-advised, but flat-out irresponsible. He's the head of basketball ops in Charlotte, and elevating him to the majority shareholder in the team bears one flaw of cataclysmic proportions: No matter how terrible of an executive Jordan is or ever will be, he holds his own purse strings. That means Jordan himself would have to be resigned to stepping down from his duties if that time ever came, which is not exactly the kind of thing you'd like to bank on. Jordan, as a player and a person, is renowned for his passion for the game, his refusal to quit, and his must-win mentality. On the court, those things are an asset. But in the case of an executive with a seriously blemished record, confidence becomes arrogance, resolve becomes stubbornness, and desire becomes insanity. The Bobcats can live with Jordan right where he is: just tasting the power of ownership but without the ball in his hands at all times. MJ is going to keep calling for that power and that responsibility as long as he's a manager in this league, but sometimes a person just needs to be told, 'No.'"

Anthony CarterJeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company: "[W]hy do so many Nuggets fans love to hate Anthony Carter? Maybe it is because he reminds us all a little too much of ourselves. We watch the NBA to see world-class athletes do things that we could never dream of doing. When we see Carter, he rarely does anything fancy and he always seems to be a heartbeat away from getting embarrassed. Maybe watching him play is a little too personal for many of us. Not only does Carter get the job done, but his real value is that he is a real value. It is amazing that Carter does what he does for the league minimum. That makes Carter almost invaluable for a team that has very little wiggle room when it comes to finances. With the presence of Ty Lawson next season Carter's place on the Nuggets roster could be in jeopardy. I thought there was a very telling quote ... where Chauncey [Billups] said that with Lawson on board maybe he can play fewer minutes. That was a pretty big condemnation of Carter ... [T]he primary area of concern with Lawson is his defense. If he cannot get the job done on the defensive end the Nuggets are going to have to have another option ... Until we see what Ty Lawson can do, I think it is a no-brainer that the Nuggets bring Carter back for next season and there are few players that bring as much value as Carter."

Red AuerbachZach Harper of Hardwood Paroxysm: "I started assistantly coaching junior varsity basketball for a local high school ... It didn't just find a place in my life. It didn't just become part of my schedule. It became my schedule ... I was so hooked after my first practice with this group of 10 high school freshmen and one eighth-grade child that I realized an even deeper love and appreciation for the game of basketball. We traipsed through the first couple of weeks of our summer league by learning the correct ways to play basketball and by learning the strengths and weaknesses of our team. We figured that our team wasn't very big or athletic but we had a lot of basketball skill from our best player to our 11th best player. We played our first game four weeks ago and in that game, we learned everything we needed to know about our team for the rest of the summer. We were good. Check that. We were REALLY good. We were chaos masked in peach fuzz, braces and XBOX Live handles. We were a running, pressing team that played harder than anybody we faced and more hectic than Don Nelson's brand of basketball could ever dream of being. And we won. A lot."

THE FINAL WORD
Warriors World: An interview with Anthony Randolph's high school coach.
Knickerblogger: A new Similarity Score for measuring players. 
48 Minutes of Hell: The value of George Hill.

(Photos by Streeter Lecka, Kevork Djansezian, Robert Riger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Years down the road, when blogologists examine how and why blogs emerged as a reliable source of information for sports fans, Mike Kurylo's Knickerblogger will be a primary source. Kurylo was the first team blogger in the basketball world to incorprate advanced stats into his coverage.  Knickerblogger's stat page is heavily bookmarked among basketball stat junkies. Kurylo has also been a regular competitor in the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown.

Knickerblogger was one of the first proponents of offensive and defensive efficiency statistics and, for years, has been a hub for all kinds of great number-crunching. When and how did you first get turned on to more advanced statistical data?  
It seemed that just about everyone who grew up in New York city in the late 70s/early 80s loved baseball. I played in backyards, little leagues, schoolyards, and in the street. In the summers of my youth, my grammar school would be open for kids to play games. Twice a day one of the adults would organize a huge wiffle ball game, and 20 to 30 kids would line up to play.
 
New York KnicksAt a young age I received a baseball encyclopedia as a birthday present, and I loved that book. As a Yankee fan it allowed me to relive their rich history. Chesbro. Gehrig. Ruth. DiMaggio. Mantle. It was a living record of what happened before my time, and through it I was able to understand the past.
 
Around this time, baseball simulation games became popular and the computer age was emerging. In the mid/late 80s I began to play games like Pursue the Penant (now Diamond Mind), Strat-o-Matic, and Micro-League baseball. Playing them revealed that many mainstream stats like RBIs, Batting Average, and Wins were a poor way to evaluate players. When playing these games, I had to throw out the conventional knowledge and develop my own ideas on how to evaluate players.
 
More than a decade later my focus shifted to basketball. Writers like Rob Neyer helped me discover an underworld revolution of statisticians who grew up questioning conventional wisdom. I found the APBRmetrics group, Dean Oliver's "Basketball on Paper" and John Hollinger's writings, which helped cultivate my basketball statistical knowledge.
 
What are you doing with a sports blog?
I started KnickerBlogger shortly after learning about advanced NBA statistics, with one goal in mind. My focus was to provide NBA coverage from an objective perspective. At the time there was little basketball coverage from an advanced statistical outlook, and I wanted to provide a place for people who felt that the mainstream media lacked an objective presence. To this day my goal remains the same. I want to bring statistical analysis to a broad audience in an easy to understand yet enjoyable manner.
 
What, to you, is the point of a sports blog?
The point is to fill a niche in the sports world. For a blog to be successful, they need to offer Photo courtesy of Mike Kurylothe reader something that they can't get elsewhere. There are many different types of blogs, and today some blogs may offer multiple areas of interest. For instance KnickerBlogger was founded on objective analysis, but today it also offers a stat page and a community of intelligent readers who enhance the site with their commentary.
 
What are some big questions about the game you have that statistics haven't answered to your satisfaction?
The first is how to assign individual defense. We know pretty well how to evaluate defense on a team level. But figuring out exactly how to credit each defender is much more difficult.
 
The second is the value of shot creation. How much (if any) value does a player give by being able to create his own shot? Advocates against shot creation point to Allen Iverson's history of being on bad offenses. Advocates for shot creation laugh at the thought of a 5 man rotation without a shotmaker.
 
The third is more a problem with how stats are kept. The NBA should do a better job of what they track. Simple things like possessions, charges, and blocked shots out of bounds, could be done immediately. And there are people out there who are doing defensive charting. These things could be invaluable for analysts. If I were in a competitive and lucrative business like the NBA, I would want to have every possible advantage.  
 
The Knicks, being New York's team, get more column inches than any basketball team on earth.  How do you carve out a place for yourself as an independent blogger?
I'm not sure if I agree with that statement. The Lakers are in a major market as well, and have a richer history. However the Knicks probably do have the league's highest ratio of "words written about them"/wins.
 
Anyway, I think being unique in the early days made it easier. There weren't many Knick blogs and there weren't many statistically savvy NBA sites. Being both helped create a robust community of readers and commenters. I think today that community continues to make KnickerBlogger valuable and relevant.

Your earliest posts opened with song lyrics that echoed the game you were recapping or the argument you were trying to convey. What's the appropriate verse for the Knicks rebuilding effort under Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni?
 
I stopped doing that because I would obsess over the song lyric. It would take me an hour to write an article, then two hours to find the right lyrics to fit it.
 
For D'Antoni I might use this:
"You do expect a Messiah
You want to be European
I would be your Bonaparte
Don't ever care 'bout what Napoleon says"
--Phoenix, "Napoleon Says"
 
For Walsh , probably :
"So I'll march my feet to a different drum
Down the avenue
Tell you what I'm going to do
I'm going take everything, everything
Take it to the start, and give it a new lining, so it's so inviting."
--The Heartless Bastards, "Gray"

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