Friday, October 9, 2009

Transitive Gaijin

Strange stuff over at's annual survey of general managers.

58.6 percent of GMs believe that Tim Duncan is the best power forward in the league. 10.3% (about 3 respondents out of 29?) favor Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol earns honorable mention.

Meanwhile, 64.3 percent of GMs believe that Dirk Nowitzki is the best international player in the Association, with Gasol second at 10.7% (3 votes out of 28) and Duncan last with 7.1% (2 votes).

How can GMs rank Duncan > Nowitzki > Gasol in one setting, and Nowitzki > Gasol > Duncan in another? It is possible that ballots were completely open: rather than providing a list of candidates, the survey makers asked GMs to fill in their own answers. If so, it suggests that few people think of Tim Duncan as an "international" player. And rightly so, for this purpose: while there is certainly a centuries-old local culture in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the territories are sufficiently Americanized that b-ball development is not much different from its mainland form. Another possibility is that the ballot did provide explicit choices, but Duncan seems to stand out in respondents' minds as more quintessentially power-forward-ish, yet not so fundamentally foreign-ish. Thus, the reversal in the preference ordering may reflect how intensely the respondents associate Duncan with those respective properties.

What I'd like to know is: what's up with Dirk's new haircut?

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