What Are The Chances?

With LeBron and the Miami Heat winning a 2nd NBA Championship in as many years (the Heat franchise has won 3 in their history), the inevitable talk is if the Heat can win it all next year, and what their legacy is within NBA history. Everyone’s favorite statistician Nate Silver from the NY Times 538 Blog has actually taken that conversation a little further and asked what is LeBron’s chances of matching Michael Jordan’s 6 NBA Titles.

Players like Jordan and James are so rare that it can be risky to compare them to anyone else. Still, one reasonably useful benchmark is to evaluate players who, like James and Jordan, had won at least one Most Valuable Player Award and at least one N.B.A. title as of their age-28 season, meaning that they had achieved the pinnacle of both individual and team success.

It’s tough to say exactly what James’s odds of catching Jordan might be, as the average conceals a wide range of outcomes among the individual players. Four of the players on the list – Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Bob Pettit and Dave Cowens – would never win another championship after their age-28 season. But four others – Jordan, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – would win four or more additional tiles.

While he does not definitively say one way or another if it is statistically possible for James to catch Jordan, he does hedge by saying that while the chances are small, it could be possible for James to snag an ‘easy’ one or two later on in his career depending on how he adjusts his game as he gets older and if the circumstance he finds himself in is optimal for winning a title.

And from the analysis, I was probably most surprised by the realization that all the championships that Magic Johnson won (5 of them) happened before his 28th birthday and after that, he never won another championship. Of course, having to retire prematurely doesn’t help things but still.

via Nate Silver’s 538 Blog on NY Times.

Celtic Chants

This reinforces the amazing potential of Twitter and online communications.

Bill Simmons, the prolific columnist and podcaster from ESPN, is a fellow displaced native New Englander (he chose sunny Los Angeles while I’m in New Jersey…clearly a better decision but I digress…). So with the Celtics making a deep run in the playoffs this year (how about that win vs LeBron and the Cavs last night!!), and he being 3,000 miles away from Boston, he created a Twitter handle @celticschants where he could communicate to folks attending Celtics game to get some chants started during the game. A creative way to demonstrate his loyalty to the hometown team.

So last night he decided to tweet this:

And then, during the actual game, when LeBron went to the free throw line, the crowd started going with the chant to the point where it was audibly heard on the ESPN broadcast. Folks may think this is a big ESPN conspiracy but in reading today’s Daily Dime about the Cavs loss and the implications for the LeBron sweepstakes, I could not help but notice this quip from author Chris Sheridan:

The Celtics fans certainly had their fun letting James know their prediction, chanting “New York Knicks” whenever James stepped to the foul line on a night when his triple-double of 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists was buttressed by his nine turnovers.

Just awesome. A very creative use of Twitter. Look out Dwight Howard and Orlando, the Twitter-verse will be ready and waiting!

UPDATE: In the NY Times today, even more credit to the @celticschants initiative:

First came the New York Knicks chants, a taunt instigated by Bill Simmons, an ESPN columnist and lifelong Celtics fan, via Twitter. In the second quarter, the in-house video camera found a fan wearing a Knicks jersey with James’s name across the shoulders, over the No. 6 the number James plans to wear next season, wherever he lands.