Introducing the Rodgers Test

So, according to our friends at Public Policy Polling, Aaron Rodgers has a 89% approval rating in Wisconsin, to go with a 4% disapproval rating and 7% having no opinion. These are, according to them, the best favorability numbers they've gotten in any poll they've ever conducted. As a statistician I don't find that particularly hard to fathom -- Aaron Rodgers has the ideal mix of being a franchise cornerstone coming off a magical season and unexpected playoff run in the most popular sport in America. He's nice, nonconfrontational, and beloved.

The poll did raise the question with me, though -- what athletes would match it? That is, are there any athletes on earth with Rodgers' combination of widespread love and widespread knowledge? That is -- anybody with 90%+ approval and 7% or less nonresponse. Given how relatively neat and simple the line seems to be, I shall hereby refer to it as "the Rodgers test." It is the test of an athlete so beloved and well-known that they could outpoll God in their sphere of influence. But what's a test without some cold hard facts? For your consumption, I revved up the Poll-O-Matic 3000 and decided to pose the question with the power of instant and unbelievably accurate polling -- could any random athletes who came to mind beat Aaron Rodgers? My brilliant, groundbreaking, publishing-quality results follow.

Disclaimer: None of these are real polls. At all. They are canon, though.

  • Manny Pacquiano:  87% approval, 2% disapproval, 11% no opinion (n=242 adults in the Philippines)

    Clearly, Manny is hurt by the lack of knowledge the general populace has of boxing. If only he played something popular, like Rugby, or Checkers, or Chess -- then he would truly pass The Rodgers Test.

  • Manu Ginobili: 85% approval, 7% disapproval, 8% no opinion (n=467 adults in Argentina)

    I'm getting word that Manu's 7% disapproval comes from confused Argentinians who thought we were asking about Manchester United. I... whoops. My bad. The Poll-O-Matic has some kinks to be ironed out, Ray Davies style.

  • David Robinson: 94% approval, 1% disapproval, 5% no opinion (n=145 adults in San Antonio)

    I looked at the results for this one.  The 1% disapproval comes from David Robinson himself, who gave the interviewer a two hour sermon on how disappointed he would be with himself if he were to ever give himself credit he felt he was not due. It changed the interviewer's life and he converted to Christianity on the spot. Anyway, good job David.

  • Michael Jordan: 85% approval, 16% "too cool" for an opinion (n=26 hipsters in Chicago)

    Wait, what? Poll-O-Matic, what the hell kind of a sample size is that?

  • Roger Mason Jr.: 1% approval, 84% disapproval, 15% shot themselves immediately (n=40 adults in New York)

    Oh sweet Jesus what have I done.

I'm officially retiring the Poll-O-Matic 3000. Forever. Goodnight everybody.

Player Capsules #7: Kevin Durant

As one of our mainstay features, Aaron is writing posts highlighting every single player in the NBA. Role players, superstars, key cogs, or players who are barely as useful as ballboys -- none are exempt from the prying eyes of our readers. Check the index for a lowdown on order, intent, and all that jazz. Today's player is Kevin Durant, a player important and interesting enough to warrant his own long post.

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"Opening" Night: UTA v HOU (1995)

In celebration of our personal opening night, we're going to try the good try to make up for the NBA's lack of one. We're going to make it up to you by posting three full classics of NBA matchups of the teams that WOULD have been playing on opening night, if the season's schedule hadn't been scrapped. Here's game #3: a reprisal of a rivalry so old that few fans remember it existed.

This matchup is the Hakeem Rockets versus the Stockton-Malone Jazz, this time for all the marbles. And there were a lot of marbles: Yes, their only 90s titles came from the Spurs and the Rockets. But the Western Conference also included two of the greatest Finals runner-ups in the history of the game in the 1997 and 1998 Jazz, two teams featuring all-time centers, some great Portland teams, the Barkley Suns, and some amazing Sonics teams. In short: quite a few marbles, even if Jordan kept them from winning the rings to show for the marbles they had in abundance. This metaphor is getting confusing. Let's watch some hoops. This post is formatted like a retroactive liveblog. Simmons-style.*

*We have nothing else in common with Bill Simmons...Well, except all these footnotes.

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"Opening" Night: LAL vs SEA (1980)

In celebration of our opening night, we're going to try the good try to make up for the NBA's lack of one. We're going to try and make it up to you by posting three full classics of NBA matchups of the teams that WOULD have been playing on opening night, if the season's schedule hadn't been scrapped. Here's game #2: the chill zombies of Seattle vs a star-studded Lakers team.

When I noticed that OKC was playing on the opening night that was not to be, I had a short debate with Alex as to whether we should restrict our search for games in the last few years where the franchise was actually in OKC (and games from when the Hornets were in OKC) or just open ourselves up to Seattle in hopes of using some actual classic games. It didn't take all that long for us to decide we'd extend our search. After all, what kind of a classic is a 2010 playoff game, really? Nonetheless. The game we have for you may not actually feature OKC, but it's still a pretty great one -- it has a still-rookie Magic, a still-spry Kareem, a still-ballin Dennis Johnson, and a still-underrated Gus Johnson. It also was the clinching game of the eastern conference finals, with Kareem doing what Kareem did in clinching situations.

Click the jump to watch the full game on Youtube (credit to lakeptic), with my "expert" commentary.

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The Worst Halloween Ever

The Worst Halloween Ever

A "Spooky" Tale of Psychology and Stanchions

Tim Duncan: Hey, you guys, I'm so angry!  Guess who I am!
Richard Jefferson: You're Tim Duncan.
TD: Oh gosh.  Heh.  Yes, Richard, but who am I pretending to be for Halloween?
RJ:  If I didn't know better, I'd say Kevin Garnett.  Given that you're obviously wearing his uniform and attempting to scowl constantly.
TD: Hey, you got it right! Richard, throw that gym mat and the duct tape over here.
RJ: Wait, what? Why? Don't wrestle me, old man.
TD: I need to complete the costume with a stanchion attached to my face.
RJ: Oh, heh. That's pretty funny, actually.  Okay, "Kevin". Here's the "stanchion".

RJ throws the gym mat to Tim.  Then he throws the roll of duct tape.  Tim slams it back at his face with a bestial yell.

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"Opening" Night: CHI vs DAL (1996)

In celebration of our opening night, we're trying to make up for the NBA's current lack of a scheduled opening night. We're going to try and make it up to you by posting three full NBA matchups of the teams that WOULD have been playing on opening night, if the season's schedule hadn't been scrapped. Here's game #1: the defending champion Mavs face off against the ECF Bulls, 90s style.  Except in 1996, with the Bulls the champs and the Mavs, well, pretty far away from any sort of conference finals. They've got Jason Kidd, though! 

Here's the box score.  Click the jump for the highlight videos.

Pity Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks.  Sure, their stirring, amazing championship this year may have finally vindicated the careers of Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Mark Cuban, and Kidd himself.  But no amount of titles could ever wash off the taint of the team's performance in the 1990s.  The Dallas Mavericks never broke .500 in a season starting in the decade.  Their win totals - ordered by increasing levels of atrocity - were 40, 36, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 13, 11 from 1990-91 to 1999-00.*  The Mavericks were 15 years old in 1996 (and had even had quite a few good runs with Mark Aguirre), but seemed like the oldest expansion franchise in the league at this point - a total joke, filled with one superstar destined to leave soon (Jason Kidd) and two 17th-team All-NBA players (Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn [who actually suffered a season-ending injury about 18 games into 1996]).  Can you even imagine rooting for the Mavs right in the middle of that awful decade?  I can't, in all honesty.

*As a math major I have to note that they have every even number between 20 and 28 wins, inclusive, like they were playing a drinking game of mediocrity.  The Mavs were 239-549 (.303) for the decade, a .303 winning percentage, which comes out to about a 25-win season, on average.  Damn.

But to their credit, the Mavericks filled legendary Reunion Arena with dedicated supporters for their awful team.  For the early regular season game we'll be covering, no fewer than five world-class athletes showed up.  All - as I understand it - are top 10 all-time at their positions: Roger Staubach (former Cowboys QB), Michael Johnson (sprinter), Michael Irvin (wide reciever), Emmitt Smith (running back), and Deion Sanders (cornerback).*  And even the Fucking Mayor of Dallas.  Wow!  All of them showed up to root their home team on (if they don't win, it's a shame!).   The likes of Deion Sanders saw the high-flying trio of young Mavs' stars: sophomore PG star Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson at his absolute peak, and the always-sizzling Jamal Mashburn.  Or, as they called themselves, Triple J (sounds like a radio station)!

*Missing were Nolan Ryan, Future Dirk Nowitzki, Tom Landry, and Holger Geschwinder.

It was obvious just from watching that Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and the rest of the 1996 Chicago Bulls had a heck of a time mentally coping with the powerful support (ecstatic at times) for the good old 1996 Dallas Mavericks in the legendary Reunion Arena.  And Triple J didn't disappoint, combining for an amazing 64 points on just 64 shots!

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The Gothic Ginobili -- Opening Night! ... Kind of!

Hey, everybody! Tonight designates the official unveiling of The Gothic Ginobili, the premier basketblog about hoopsketball on the internet. This is primarily because there is nobody else who calls themselves a "basketblog" and hoopsketball is not actually a sport that exists. The NBA has cheated us out and refused us the sanctity of our beacon league's opening night, so we're trying to fill the gap by making our opening night a spectacular simulation of the actual opening night. In doing so, we'll be reposting three great full classic basketball games between the matchups the NBA robbed us of from the night, some fun features, and enough content to entertain any depressed NBA fan who comes across us tonight.

Here's the starting five for tonight's content, with all times in ET.

  • 8:00 PM: Chicago vs Dallas, 1996 -- a regular season game where MJ and Pippen run roughshod on a bad Mavs team propped up by an impossibly good young Jason Kidd. Presented by Alex.
  • 8:45 PM: The Worst Halloween Ever -- a story about Tim Duncan's failed attempt at dressing up as a psychopath for Halloween, completely foiled by the sad fact that Tim Duncan can actually read. Presented by Alex.
  • 9:45 PM: Lakers vs Supersonics, 1980 -- game 5 of the 1980 Western Conference finals, where a young Kareem shows off how unstoppable he was at his prime while simultaneously demonstrating why the pre-Worthy 80s Lakers were nowhere near as good as the 90s Bulls despite having two top 10 players in the history of the human race. Presented by Aaron.
  • 11:00 PM: Utah vs Houston, 1995 -- a playoff matchup between two bitter rivals in a rivalry nobody seems to remember existed. Hakeem vs Malone. Stockton vs Drexler. Texas vs Utah. Rick Perry vs Mitt Romney. Wait, not that last one, belay that. Presented in a retro-liveblog by both Alex and Aaron.
  • 11:30 PM: Player Capsule #7, Kevin Durant -- To end the night, an example of what happens when I get far, far too in depth with a player capsule. Long story short: they turn into advanced scouting reports, legacy considerations, and reflections that totally go beyond the scope of the project. Not like I don't enjoy writing them, though. Presented by Aaron.

Glad you could join us. Hope you like what you see, and hope you chance to stick around!

-- The Gothic Ginobili staff (AKA Alex, Aaron, and the mop in Aaron's closet)

Juwan a Blog? #2: Joe Posnanski's "Curiously Long Posts"

DSCF0553Joe Posnanski will use every detail in this picture - including
Joe Posnanski (left) - to disprove the viability of the intentional walk  

As a recurring feature, Alex will be reviewing and analyzing various blogs and hoops sites. No number ratings or anything silly like that, just a good overview of the sites at hand with their strengths, weaknesses, etc. To see an index of previously reviewed sites, click here.

On a chilly day before dawn, I love a great essay or a short story.  I just love that feeling when the piece ends, you know, when your neck shudders a little bit and you're the only one awake and the sky gets a little brighter?  I don't care if the piece ends with fire or with insight - it ends with something meaningful, and something meaningful opens up in me.  The heat of the sun gets my cold wet arms a little drier and warmer.  I feel like I own the new day, and I see clearly what is real and earnest in life for awhile, and I see a little bit further ahead in my life.  I just love that feeling.  That's why today - just before dawn here - I want to talk about Joe Posnanski.  But first I want to talk about Michael Jordan.

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