09/27/10 10:00 am EST
I first became acquainted with Dave Berri in a back-issue of the New Yorker at a dentist’s office. I was flipping though pages, pretending to read so I could avoid eye-contact with strangers when I found myself looking at a large photo of Allen Iverson. My brain stirred. I deduced from the photo, and the words “book review,” that the article it accompanied was a review of a book that apparently had something to do with Allen Iverson.
So I read. Berri and a few cohorts, the article told me, had developed an algorithm that explained, using only box-score statistics, how many actual wins an NBAer produced for his team. The piece fixated on one of the models more controversial claims: That Allen Iverson – League MVP, eleven time All-Star, four time scoring champ, first overall draft pick, and protagonist of 90 percent of my 10th grade biology notebook doodles – just wasn’t very good. I was outraged. The audacity, I thought. Who the hell does this guy think he is?
A trip to Barnes and Noble and 195 pages later I found out – a guy much smarter about sports than me or any of the guys with their hand on the lever of my teams. I wasn’t alone on that thought. Wages was sufficiently successful to warrant a paperback addition and a sequel of sorts: Stumbling on Wins, which was released earlier this year.
Dave, who maintains a blog that’s essential reading and writes about sports for the Huffington Post when he’s not teaching econ at Southern Utah University, agreed to share with us some of his thoughts on the Sixers, the NBA, the state of sports economics, and why he’s happier in academia than in an NBA front office. After the jump is part one of multiple part series featuring Berri’s thoughts of the 76ers.