Greatness Is Not A Number
By the time you read this, there’s a solid chance that Steph Curry will have made more 3-pointers in his career than Ray Allen made, which will make Curry the NBA all-time leader. I challenge anyone outside of TOB to tell me the number Ray Allen made, because the NBA 3-point record ain’t exactly .406 or 9.58.
The local broadcast is trying to make a thing out of it – counting down with every Curry 3 with a little graphic in the lower corner of the broadcast. Rightly so, I guess, but I can’t muster up any real interest in the countdown. To what are we really counting down?
There’s no real argument: Curry is the best shooter the NBA has ever seen, and so Curry passing Ray Allen record doesn’t solidify anything new when it comes to Curry’s legacy. And, as Oakland’s favorite curmudgeon Ray Ratto so perfectly addresses, to be awed by a number Curry passes is to miss the point of what makes him so spectacular. OK, here’s one stat for context: It took Allen 1,300 games to make 2,973 3-pointers; Curry will get there and beyond in less than 790 games.
Ratto nails it with this:
Just as long as whatever happens is within whatever Curry decides is the flow of the game, because on this one item, he is more trustworthy than Basketballreference.com. They do numbers. He does moments, and one does well not to try to quantify the work of a true mother of invention.
Good read, per usual, from Ratto. – PAL
Source: “Counting Will Get You Nowhere With Steph Curry,” Ray Ratto, Defector (12/08/21)
The Propaganda Playbook
Last week we shared three stories from the NY Times about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, her shocking accusation of sexual assuault by a high-ranking government official, and the Chinese government’s response. This week, The Times teamed up with ProPublica to show, piece by piece, post-by-post, pic-by-pic, email-by-email, etc. of the government’s attempt at cover-up.
The allegation reached the heights of Beijing’s opaque political system, and officials turned to a tested playbook to stamp out discussion and shift the narrative. The tactics have helped Beijing weather a series of political crises at home in recent years, including the 2019 protests in Hong Kong and its initial response to Covid-19.
This time, according to analyses by The New York Times and ProPublica, China began a multifaceted propaganda campaign that was at once sophisticated and clumsy. Inside the country, officials used internet controls to scrub almost all references to the accusation and restrict digital spaces where people might discuss it. At the same time, they activated a widely followed network of state-media commentators, backed by a chorus of fake Twitter accounts, to try to punch back at critics abroad, the analyses show.
The effort didn’t always succeed. This is how China reacted — and how it stumbled along the way.
This is a must-read story. Having a single person, Peng Shuai, at the center of this helps someone like me better understand the dangers and complexity of censorship in Beijing, and why the United States and other nations are imposing a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics. – PAL
Source: “Beijing Silenced Peng Shuai in 20 Minutes, Then Spent Weeks on Damage Control,” Paul Mozur, Muyi Xiao, Jeff Kao and Gray Beltran; The New York Times & ProPublica (12/08/21)
Non Sports Stories of the Week
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t only read about sports. This week, I read two particularly interesting articles that I think you’ll enjoy.
First, the New Yorker profile of Jeremy Strong, who plays Kendall Roy in Succession. If you watch the show, I highly recommend you set aside some time and read this. You will laugh out loud at him at least a half dozen times. -TOB
Source: “On ‘Succession,’ Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke,” Michael Schulman, New Yorker (12/05/2021)
The second article is about the grapefruit. It begins with a long history of the grapefruit and other citrus fruits, which is itself fascinating. And then it gets into a discovery made about twenty years ago that the grapefruit can interact with certain drugs by multiplying the standard efficiency of the drug, which can cause people to overdose. It’s a great read. -TOB
Source: “Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet,” Dan Nosowitz, Atlas Obscura (10/6/2020)