World's Oldest Profession Meets Big Data: The government of France announced it would not include prostitution in the country's GDP. Wait -- read the announcement carefully, excluded will be revenues from illegal aspects of prostitution, which in France means operating a brothel or underage sex. Paying an adult for sex on a consensual basis is legal in France, and the revenue generated already is factored into the country's GDP. Italy and the United Kingdom will begin to include the results of illegal drug dealing in their GDPs -- allowing politicians to declare economic growth.
Team Basketball Trounces AAU Basketball: TMQ contends the most exciting play in basketball is not the slam dunk or the long 3 but the layup -- because layups don't happen without team play. Team play is the essence of college basketball, but is disdained in much of the NBA, where look-at-me dominates and guaranteed contracts allow players to ignore coaches. Thus your columnist was thrilled as San Antonio blew Miami off the court in the NBA Finals using team basketball.
When the Spurs were on offense, there were so many quick passes -- often the ball changed hands six or seven times on a possession -- the action looked like a video on fast forward. When the Heat had the ball, motion came to a halt as four Miami players stood watching a teammate go one-on-one. By the third quarter of the fifth game, Miami was so flummoxed trying to stop San Antonio's layups that the Heat left the 3-point line unguarded: the Spurs dropped five 3-pointers, four of them uncontested, and the rest was filler. Why was Miami so flummoxed trying to stop San Antonio layups? Because the Heat have no experience defending plays! They don't run any themselves, and rarely see them from opponents.
As reader Larry Holyoke notes, this econometric study finds that "despite the seemingly strong group incentive to win the NBA title, cooperative play actually diminishes during playoff games, negatively affecting team performance." During the Finals, 67 percent of Spurs baskets followed an assist; only 43 percent of Miami baskets did. Little-known Kawhi Leonard won MVP, and it was great fun to watch him running circles around LeBron James.
TMQ's fav of the series was Boris Diaw, the victor's leader for assists in the Finals -- 5.8 per game, better than point guard Tony Parker. A big man who throws pinpoint passes is a potent weapon, as San Antonio demonstrated. But he's a potent weapon only if you're playing team basketball, and most NBA clubs don't. Diaw was waived by Charlotte in 2012, for the sin of being better at passing than slam-dunking. Since the Bobcats waived Diaw, they are 64-126. Since the Spurs signed him, they are 181-63 with consecutive title appearances.
Do so many NBA teams play the AAU one-on-one style because players won't listen to coaches, or because the one-on-one style is what audiences want? Certainly there are paying customers who would rather see dunks and long, crazy trey attempts than backdoors off a secondary screen. And the NBA has so many teams that are awful and likely to stay that way -- bound for the Milwaukee Bucks, Jabari Parker will never be heard from again -- that players might as well try for dunks to entertain those brave souls who venture out for games.