Sports > Basketball > UK, USA
Jimmy Butler had 25 points in Game 4,
but the Nuggets won, 108-95, to move one win
from their first title.
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
The Heat Say They Love Adversity. Did They
Have to Make It This Hard?
Only one team has come back from a 3-1
series deficit in the N.B.A. finals,
but the Miami Heat seem confident they can
be the second.
June 10, 2023 Updated 4:21
James had 28 points, 8 rebounds
and 11 assists
in the Lakers’ win.
He has improved as 3-point
shooter in his career
and hit 3 of 6 against the
Photograph: Michael Mcloone/USA
LeBron James Scoring Tracker:
How Close Is He to the N.B.A. Record?
The Lakers star is fewer than 160 points
from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career
which Abdul-Jabbar set before James was
Jan. 26, 2023
Arizona’s Nick Johnson (13)
has a playing style reminiscent of his
the Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.
Photograph: Ethan Miller
A Father’s Legs and an Uncle’s Skills
MARCH 20, 2014
Niagara's Lorenzo Miles, left,
holds on to the rebound as Florida A&M's L.C. Robinson charges in
during the first half of the NCAA tournament's play-in game.
Photograph: Al Behrman
Niagara drops Florida A&M in NCAA play-in
14 March 2007
- broken link
Philadelphia selected Allen Iverson
No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Photograph: Chris McGrath
Sixers trade Iverson to Nuggets
Updated 12/20/2006 12:02 AM ET
By David DuPree, USA TODAY
- broken link
Lakers star Kobe Bryant
tries to find some elbow room around Charlotte center
during the second half of the Bobcats' first triple-overtime game.
Photograph: Chuck Burton
Bobcats upstage Bryant's 58 in triple-OT win
By Mike Cranston, The Associated Press
UT Updated 12/30/2006 12:13 AM ET
- broken link
USA > basketball legend
and world-class athlete
mount a basketball hoop
Basketball Association NBA
her first college basketball game
for Mount St. Joseph University.
Lauren Hill, Who
Fought Tumor to Play College Basketball, Dies at 19
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
APRIL 10, 2015
Hannah's Story NYT 2 August 2013
The New York Times 2 August 2013
For Hannah, 14,
basketball offered refuge from family problems
of drug addiction and domestic assault.
When basketball season ends,
Hannah's living situation
becomes increasingly unsettled.
Basketball Association W.N.B.A.
Women's College Basketball
Perry Eugene Wallace
the first black
varsity basketball player
in the 1960s
for his hometown
Men's college basketball
USA > slam dunk contest UK
National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA
N.C.A.A. / NCAA > men’s
NCAA > college basketball tournament > men's March
The Bracket Tournament
The Denver Nuggets
Golden State Warriors
New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
bracketing in sports tournaments > seeding
lebron-james-score-record-tracker.html - January 24, 2023
USA > Magic Johnson UK
50 memories to mark 50 golden years
17 February 2013
To mark the 50th birthday
of a basketball legend,
we present a half-century of highlights
from the sport's greatest ever player
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar UK / USA
Willis Reed of the Knicks grabbed a rebound
Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers looked on
playoff game at Madison Square Garden in 1970.
Photograph: Larry C. Morris
New York Times
Willis Reed, Hall of Fame Center for Champion Knicks, Dies at 80
was beloved by New York fans for his willingness to play hurt,
memorably exemplified in the decisive Game 7 of the 1970 N.B.A. finals
Madison Square Garden.
Willis Reed Jr.
of two Knicks
that captivated New
York in the early 1970s
with a canny,
team-oriented style of play
In an era when Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain
were the more
celebrated big men,
Reed was a highly
skilled 6-foot-9 center
with a resolute
that was much admired
over a 10-year career,
though it was marred
by injury and ended at 31.
It was Reed’s
willingness to play hurt
that brought him his
greatest measure of respect and fame,
and his grittiness
was never more exemplified and celebrated
than on May 8, 1970,
in the decisive game
of the National
Basketball Association finals.
Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, [ center ]
with Bill Russell [ left ]
and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor.
Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive
'Trump is where he is because of his appeal to
The basketball legend and social activist
who counted Ali and King among his contemporaries
discusses Colin Kaepernick, LaVar Ball and
Friday 8 December 2017 18.26 GMT
Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach.
retired he named Russell to take his place,
making him the
first Black head coach in the NBA.
basketball legend with record 11 NBA titles, dies at 88
July 31, 2022
1:39 PM ET
Russell / Bill Russell 1934-2022
Photograph: Bettmann/Getty Images
K.C. Jones, Celtics Standout as Player and Coach, Dies at 88
As a defense-minded guard,
he played on eight consecutive championship teams.
He later found success leading the team from the sidelines.
Dec. 25, 2020
K.C. Jones 1932-2020
Kobe Bean Bryant 1978-2020
Cornelius Hawkins 1942-2017
high-flying basketball sensation
who was molded
on the playgrounds of New York
and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame,
but whose career was unjustly derailed
when the N.B.A. barred him
until his prime years had passed
on suspicions of involvement
in a college point-shaving scandal
Anthony George Douglas Mason 1966-2015
muscular, bellicose forward
whose bruising play helped the Knicks
reach the National Basketball Association finals
Earl Francis Lloyd 1928-2015
Earl Lloyd (...)
became the first black player
to appear in an
when he took the court
for the Washington Capitols
three and a half years
after Jackie Robinson
broke modern major
Coach Dean Smith 1931-2015
champion of college basketball
and of racial equality
coach > John Robert Wooden 1910-2010
basketball movies > 1986 > USA > Hoosiers
Corpus of news articles
Sports > Basketball
Greg Jackson Dies at 60;
Ran a Haven in Brooklyn
May 2, 2012
The New York Times
By BRUCE WEBER
Greg Jackson, a former professional basketball player who turned
a Brooklyn recreation center into a hive of productive activity in one of New
York’s most troubled neighborhoods, died on Tuesday in Brooklyn. He was 60.
Mr. Jackson, the longtime manager of the Brownsville Recreation Center,
apparently had a heart attack during a parks department meeting in the borough
and died at New York Methodist Hospital, the department said.
Mr. Jackson, whom friends called Jocko, grew up in Brownsville, a mostly poor
and often crime-riddled segment of eastern Brooklyn dominated by public housing
developments. He was a local basketball star who played briefly in the National
Basketball Association before returning to his home turf, where he became known
as a tireless community advocate and, unofficially, the mayor of Brownsville.
“If you can grow up and survive in Brownsville,” Mr. Jackson said in a 1998
interview, “you can do it anywhere in the world.”
The recreation center, on Linden Boulevard, was built in 1953 as the Brownsville
Boys Club, complete with basketball and handball courts, a weight room, a
swimming pool and pool tables. But the condition of the building declined, and
it was closed for a time until the city invested $10 million to renovate it in
Mr. Jackson, who began working for the Department of Parks and Recreation in
1986, was named director of the center in 1997; under his leadership it became a
haven for the children, adults and the elderly.
He removed protective — and forbidding — bulletproof plastic barriers from
inside the center. He enlisted local artists to paint murals on the walls and
expanded the center’s programs beyond athletics, staging plays, running talent
shows and holding roller-skating nights. He organized annual old-timers’ weeks,
inviting former residents to return for softball and basketball games and
barbecues in the name of instilling community pride. He was chairman of the
Reeves Drakeford Brownsville Jets, a youth basketball team founded in 1965. And
he was a mentor to a legion of neighborhood children.
“We’ve lost a major leader,” Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks
commissioner, said in an interview on Wednesday. “He made the center neutral
territory, a place of peacefulness and calm in a community where, well, there
can be violence. He saw to it that the violence never came in the doors.”
Gregory Jackson was born on Aug. 2, 1951, and was reared in Brownsville by his
mother, Dottie Rice. As a boy he played basketball at the center when it was the
Boys Club. But he was living with family members who were addicted to drugs and
was in danger of going that route himself, Representative Edolphus Towns, an old
friend, said in an interview on Wednesday. Mr. Towns, who was then working as a
hospital administrator as well as counseling young people in Brownsville,
arranged for young Greg to move in with his parents in Chadbourn, N.C., and
attend high school there.
After graduating, Mr. Jackson went to Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.,
where he played with the future N.B.A. stars M. L. Carr and Lloyd B. Free (who
later changed his name to World B. Free) on a basketball team that won the 1973
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship tournament.
Drafted by the Knicks in 1974, he played one season in the N.B.A. as a guard for
the Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. He later played for the Allentown Jets in the
Eastern Professional Basketball League.
Mr. Jackson’s survivors include his wife, Carmen, and nine children. After his
death, Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, proposed that the
Brownsville Recreational Center be named in his honor.
Greg Jackson Dies at 60; Ran a Haven in Brooklyn,
Arms Reach for the Rim
The New York Times
By JOSH KRON
— His first two attempts sprung off the back of the rim, the ball careening
through the air, the crowd sighing loudly. Mangistu Deng, 16, dribbled back to
halfcourt, pounding the ball for his final dunk of the night.
Deng called over a friend, who stood just in front of the foul line, stiff as
possible, back to him. Then Deng took off like a grasshopper into the night and
soared over his friend. The fans rose to their feet. Cellphone cameras clicked.
Mangistu Deng — slam-dunk champion, Juba City, 2011.
After decades of civil war, peace has finally settled in southern Sudan. The
south will soon declare independence from the north, and with this newfound
freedom, the southern Sudanese are beginning to rediscover themselves,
reacquaint themselves with all that has been stunted or twisted or buried under
the weight of war.
Crazy for basketball is part of who they are, or were. Manute Bol, their
pioneer, became an N.B.A. star a quarter-century ago. Since then, many talented
players, some driven out of southern Sudan by the years of violence, have had
solid collegiate careers in the United States.
With the legends came the clichés about Africans and basketball, the laughs and
the bad Kevin Bacon movie.
Now, though, at the dawn of peace, there appears to be emerging an exuberant
re-embrace of the sport, and with it a second wave of talent to be recruited,
prospects perhaps no longer seen chiefly as curiosities.
They are versatile, freakishly athletic, and with a confidence for the game.
Their hero is not Bol, who died last June; it is Luol Deng, a star with the
The N.B.A. has noticed.
“We are very much in tune with what’s going on in southern Sudan,” said Amadou
Fall, the vice president for development with N.B.A. Africa, the league’s
outreach arm. “Southern Sudan does have an abundance of tall, well-talented
players. We have to pay attention.”
Two years ago, Mangistu Deng was any other third-world teenager, stuck in the
usual miserable circumstances: unrivaled poverty, violence, instability.
Now he has found a way out.
Each day, Deng slips away from the daily chaos of the southern capital, Juba, to
the sanctuary he has cultivated: Nimra Tilata, the hallowed basketball court
near the Nile River. Now he is one of southern Sudan’s top basketball prospects
and the face of a new sporting generation. He has not always had a lot in this
life, but he has a place to play.
“I was born in war,” he said. “So, I thought, when I grow up, I will be a
soldier. But then basketball just came.
“God gave me this talent. It was not my choice. I really appreciate it.”
At Nimra Tilata, he meets his friends Makur Puou and Hakim Nyang. Coach Bill
Duany brings the ball, and in the midday heat, the youngsters scrimmage, and
hustle and sweat. The backdrop of the independence rallies and campaign posters,
the dust bowls and the meandering children fade away.
The rekindled passion for the game has been fueled in part by the return of the
Sudanese basketball diaspora. Duany, who played Division I college basketball in
the United States five years ago, is one who came back.
“There are guys here with N.B.A.-caliber talent,” said Duany, who serves as a
coach to many of the local boys.
The obvious attributes endure. The Dinka and Nuer tribes of southern Sudan are
considered among the tallest people in the world.
“South Sudanese are tall, they run well for guys of their size, and they’re very
skillful,” Duany said. “They’ve passed that requirement already.”
Now Duany is here to help them get to the next level. In southern Sudan, one of
the poorest places in the world, the chance to play basketball may be the chance
of a lifetime.
“I want to show my country I can do something,” Deng said.
Bol, a 7-foot-6 Dinka cattle herder, was the first to show what a Sudanese
player could do on the world stage. He was the first African-born player to be
drafted into the N.B.A., and for years, he was, if an incomplete player, a
Bol, though, was not just a defender on the court. He used his N.B.A. salary to
help bankroll the southern Sudanese liberation movement, which fought an
insurgency against the north during the civil war.
If all goes according to plan, Deng, who is 6-7; Puou, who is 16 and 6-8; and
Nyang, who is 15 and 7-1, will be playing this fall at Mooseheart, a prep school
In the United States, they will join a growing list of Duany’s recruits,
including the 7-1 Chier Ajou, who has committed to New Mexico, and Peter Jurkin,
a highly rated center, who is headed to Indiana.
But basketball’s long-term future here hangs on the quality and lasting nature
of independence. Political separation between north and south is not yet
complete, and Duany said it was difficult obtaining passports for southern
players to travel and play outside the country.
Although southern Sudan is unlikely to field a national basketball team by the
2012 Olympics, it hopes to compete in 2016.
For at least one night last month, the future seemed to have arrived at Nimra
Tilata court. The slam-dunk contest was a carousel of spins, jabs and hang time.
By the end, only one person was still standing — or floating.
The crowd stood silent as Deng rose higher, tongue out in a Jordanesque swagger,
before exploding in applause as he ripped the ball through the rim.
“I am waiting,” he said, days after finding out he had been accepted to
Mooseheart. “Any time. Any minute. Any hour. I am ready.”
Long Arms Reach for the Rim, 19.2.2011,
Lakers 99, Magic 91
Surviving Slow Start,
Lakers Win With the 3
June 12, 2009
The New York Times
By HOWARD BECK
ORLANDO, Fla. — Experience is the Los Angeles Lakers’ calling card, its
security blanket and, on nights like this, its most valuable asset. It glistens
on their fingertips when the stakes get higher and the clock gets short.
Late Thursday night, it finally separated them from the feisty, swaggering
Derek Fisher, a veteran of six N.B.A. finals and three championships, hit a
3-pointer to force overtime and another 3-pointer to give the Lakers the lead
for good, and they pulled away for a 99-91 victory to take control of the
series. They lead 3-1 and can close it out Sunday at Amway Arena. If they fail,
the Lakers will get two chances at Staples Center next week.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, but it was
Fisher, his longtime backcourt mate, who saved the evening.
Orlando had a 5-point lead with 94 seconds to play in regulation, and an 87-84
lead in the final 20 seconds. But Dwight Howard, who had 16 points and 21
rebounds, blew a chance to ice the victory, missing two free throws with 11.1
That left the Lakers with a slim opening. Fisher, who had been 0 for 5 from the
arc, got the call. He raced downcourt on an inbounds play, then pulled up for a
3-pointer over Jameer Nelson, tying the game at 87-87 with 4.6 seconds left.
The game was tied at 91-91 in overtime when Fisher struck again, hitting a
straightaway 3-pointer on a pass from Bryant.
Hedo Turkoglu, who led Orlando with 25 points, missed a pair of 3-pointers down
the stretch, and Pau Gasol converted a pair of fast-break dunks to seal the win.
Only eight teams have come back from 3-1 deficit to win a postseason series.
This is Orlando’s first time trailing by that margin this postseason. The Lakers
are 32-1 when leading 3-1.
The Magic erased a 6-point deficit in the fourth quarter, with clutch baskets
from Mickael Pietrus and Turkoglu. But it was Howard who put the biggest stamp
on the rally. He dunked on a feed from Nelson. He disrupted Bryant on one drive
and blocked him on another. He deflected a Fisher pass and scored on a reverse.
It took the Lakers half the evening to get their offense in gear, or for anyone
other than Bryant to find a path to the basket. They trailed by 12 at halftime.
The rally began with Trevor Ariza (16 points), who was traded from Orlando to
Los Angeles two years ago.
Ariza, who was 0 for 6 in the first half, turned a steal into a fast-break dunk,
hit a runner and a pair of 3-pointers and generated 11 points in an 18-5 run to
start the third quarter. Andrew Bynum hit a pair of free throws to push the
Lakers ahead, 55-54, their first lead since early in the first quarter.
As the tension rose, so did the tempers. Bryant and Howard got tied up on a
rebound late in the third quarter, then angrily jawed at each other after
briefly jostling. Bryant hit two free throws and a tough, double-clutch jumper
as the Lakers closed the quarter with a 67-63 lead.
When Orlando scrapped out a victory in Game 3, it officially put the Lakers on
notice and the series on edge. And it pushed Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to reach
into his old grab-bag of benign distractions.
Jackson took his players and staff to the movies Wednesday night. His choice?
“The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” the new Denzel Washington thriller, featuring John
Travolta as the villain who hijacks a New York subway train. There might have
been a subtle message somewhere in there, but more likely Jackson just wanted to
keep his team’s mood light.
The same could not be said of Jackson, who earned a technical foul, his first of
the series, in the second quarter. His mood only got worse when J. J. Redick
made the technical free throw, extending the Magic’s lead to 12 points.
Turkoglu paced Orlando in the first half, scoring 15 points on an array of
running jumpers and layups. The Magic’s offense again hummed with precision, to
the tune of a 48.6 percent shooting clip. Orlando had a 49-37 lead at halftime,
despite a slow start from Howard, who had 6 points.
Although his offense was slow to arrive, Howard nevertheless made a quick impact
— with 11 rebounds and three blocks in the first 9 minutes after tipoff. He also
had a hand in putting the Lakers’ big men on the bench with foul trouble. Gasol,
Bynum and Odom had two fouls each in the first quarter.
By the end of the period, the Lakers’ lineup featured D. J. Mbenga, Josh Powell
and Luke Walton.
Bryant was again blistering from the field, scoring 13 points in the first
quarter and tagging Courtney Lee and Pietrus with two fouls each. But Bryant’s
teammates missed 16 of their first 22 shots as the Lakers fell behind by 12.
Odom was particularly dreadful, missing a pair of point-blank shots. And Bryant
began pressing, going 1 for 5 in the second quarter.
In general, the Magic’s offense looked crisp and organized, producing quality
shots and 24 points in the paint. The Lakers’ offense looked muddled and
harried. The ball didn’t move, and every shot seemed to be contested. They
attempted 10 shots from 3-point range and made just one.
Nothing in the series has followed the expected script. The Lakers pounced for a
25-point rout in Game 1, survived overtime for another win in Game 2, and their
fans starting dreaming of a sweep. The Magic controlled Game 3 from start to
finish and won by 4 points.
Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy, who has delighted in tweaking the news media all
series, was all too happy to predict the story lines that might emerge from Game
“Basically the story is if they win tonight, you guys are going to write the
series is over,” Van Gundy said. “And if we win, it’s about our toughness and
resilience, and you guys knew this was going to be a great series all along.”
Surviving Slow Start,
Lakers Win With the 3, NYT, 12.6.2009,
Racial Bias in Calling Fouls
May 2, 2007
The New York Times
By ALAN SCHWARZ
study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs continue tonight,
suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American society has existed
on the basketball court as well.
A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell
University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through
2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than
against white players.
Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the
Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, found
a corresponding bias in which black officials called fouls more frequently
against white players, though that tendency was not as strong. They went on to
claim that the different rates at which fouls are called “is large enough that
the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial
composition of the refereeing crew assigned to the game.”
N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern said in a telephone interview that the league
saw a draft copy of the paper last year, and was moved to do its own study this
March using its own database of foul calls, which specifies which official
called which foul.
“We think our cut at the data is more powerful, more robust, and demonstrates
that there is no bias,” Mr. Stern said.
Three independent experts asked by The Times to examine the Wolfers-Price paper
and materials released by the N.B.A. said they considered the Wolfers-Price
argument far more sound. The N.B.A. denied a request for its underlying data,
even with names of officials and players removed, because it feared that the
league’s confidentiality agreement with referees could be violated if the
identities were determined through box scores.
The paper by Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price has yet to undergo formal peer review
before publication in an economic journal, but several prominent academic
economists said it would contribute to the growing literature regarding
subconscious racism in the workplace and elsewhere, such as in searches by the
The three experts who examined the Wolfers-Price paper and the N.B.A.’s
materials were Ian Ayres of Yale Law School, the author of “Pervasive
Prejudice?” and an expert in testing for how subtle racial bias, also known as
implicit association, appears in interactions ranging from the setting of bail
amounts to the tipping of taxi drivers; David Berri of California State
University-Bakersfield, the author of “The Wages of Wins,” which analyzes sports
issues using statistics; and Larry Katz of Harvard University, the senior editor
of the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
“I would be more surprised if it didn’t exist,” Mr. Ayres said of an implicit
association bias in the N.B.A. “There’s a growing consensus that a large
proportion of racialized decisions is not driven by any conscious race
discrimination, but that it is often just driven by unconscious, or
subconscious, attitudes. When you force people to make snap decisions, they
often can’t keep themselves from subconsciously treating blacks different than
whites, men different from women.”
Mr. Berri added: “It’s not about basketball — it’s about what happens in the
world. This is just the nature of decision-making, and when you have an
evaluation team that’s so different from those being evaluated. Given that your
league is mostly African-American, maybe you should have more African-American
referees — for the same reason that you don’t want mostly white police forces in
primarily black neighborhoods.”
To investigate whether such bias has existed in sports, Mr. Wolfers and Mr.
Price examined data from publicly available box scores. They accounted for
factors like the players’ positions, playing time and All-Star status; each
group’s time on the court (black players played 83 percent of minutes, while 68
percent of officials were white); calls at home games and on the road; and other
But they said they continued to find the same phenomenon: that players who were
similar in all ways except skin color drew foul calls at a rate difference of up
to 4 ½ percent depending on the racial composition of an N.B.A. game’s
three-person referee crew.
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a vocal critic of his league’s
officiating, said in a telephone interview after reading the paper: “We’re all
human. We all have our own prejudice. That’s the point of doing statistical
analysis. It bears it out in this application, as in a thousand others.”
Asked if he had ever suspected any racial bias among officials before reading
the study, Mr. Cuban said, “No comment.”
Two veteran players who are African-American, Mike James of the Minnesota
Timberwolves and Alan Henderson of the Philadelphia 76ers, each said that they
did not think black or white officials had treated them differently.
“If that’s going on, then it’s something that needs to be dealt with,” James
said. “But I’ve never seen it.”
Two African-American coaches, Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics and Maurice
Cheeks of the Philadelphia 76ers, declined to comment on the paper’s claims. Rod
Thorn, the president of the New Jersey Nets and formerly the N.B.A.’s executive
vice president for basketball operations, said: “I don’t believe it. I think
officials get the vast majority of calls right. They don’t get them all right.
The vast majority of our players are black.”
Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price spend 41 pages accounting for such population
disparities and more than a dozen other complicating factors.
For the 1991-92 through 2003-4 seasons, the authors analyzed every player’s
box-score performance — minutes played, rebounds, shots made and missed, fouls
and the like — in the context of the racial composition of the three-person crew
refereeing that game. (The N.B.A. did not release its record of calls by
specific officials to either Mr. Wolfers, Mr. Price or The Times, claiming it is
kept for referee training purposes only.)
Mr. Wolfers said that he and Mr. Price classified each N.B.A. player and referee
as either black or not black by assessing photographs and speaking with an
anonymous former referee, and then using that information to predict how an
official would view the player. About a dozen players could reasonably be placed
in either category, but Mr. Wolfers said the classification of those players did
not materially change the study’s findings.
During the 13-season period studied, black players played 83 percent of the
minutes on the floor. With 68 percent of officials being white, three-person
crews were either entirely white (30 percent of the time), had two white
officials (47 percent), had two black officials (20 percent) or were entirely
black (3 percent).
Mr. Stern said that the race of referees had never been considered when
assembling crews for games.
With their database of almost 600,000 foul calls, Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price used
a common statistical technique called multivariable regression analysis, which
can identify correlations between different variables. The economists accounted
for a wide range of factors: that centers, who tend to draw more fouls, were
disproportionately white; that veteran players and All-Stars tended to draw foul
calls at different rates than rookies and non-stars; whether the players were at
home or on the road, as officials can be influenced by crowd noise; particular
coaches on the sidelines; the players’ assertiveness on the court, as defined by
their established rates of assists, steals, turnovers and other statistics; and
more subtle factors like how some substitute players enter games specifically to
Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price examined whether otherwise similar black and white
players had fouls-per-minute rates that varied with the racial makeup of the
“Across all of these specifications,” they write, “we find that black players
receive around 0.12-0.20 more fouls per 48 minutes played (an increase of 2 ½-4
½ percent) when the number of white referees officiating a game increases from
zero to three.”
Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price also report a statistically significant correlation
with decreases in points, rebounds and assists, and a rise in turnovers, when
players performed before primarily opposite-race officials.
“Player-performance appears to deteriorate at every margin when officiated by a
larger fraction of opposite-race referees,” they write. The paper later notes no
change in free-throw percentage. “We emphasize this result because this is the
one on-court behavior that we expect to be unaffected by referee behavior.”
Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price claim that these changes are enough to affect game
outcomes. Their results suggested that for each additional black starter a team
had, relative to its opponent, a team’s chance of winning would decline from a
theoretical 50 percent to 49 percent and so on, a concept mirrored by the game
evidence: the team with the greater share of playing time by black players
during those 13 years won 48.6 percent of games — a difference of about two
victories in an 82-game season.
“Basically, it suggests that if you spray-painted one of your starters white,
you’d win a few more games,” Mr. Wolfers said.
The N.B.A.’s reciprocal study was conducted by the Segal Company, the actuarial
consulting firm which designed the in-house data-collection system the league
uses to identify patterns for referee-training purposes, to test for evidence of
bias. The league’s study was less formal and detailed than an academic paper,
included foul calls for only two and a half seasons (from November 2004 through
January 2007), and did not consider differences among players by position,
veteran status and the like. But it did have the clear advantage of specifying
which of the three referees blew his whistle on each foul.
The N.B.A. study reported no significant differences in how often white and
black referees collectively called fouls on white and black players. Mr. Stern
said he was therefore convinced “that there’s no demonstration of any bias here
— based upon more robust and more data that was available to us because we keep
Added Joel Litvin, the league’s president for basketball operations, “I think
the analysis that we did can stand on its own, so I don’t think our view of some
of the things in Wolfers’s paper and some questions we have actually matter as
much as the analysis we did.”
Mr. Litvin explained the N.B.A.’s refusal to release its underlying data for
independent examination by saying: “Even our teams don’t know the data we
collect as to a particular referee’s call tendencies on certain types of calls.
There are good reasons for this. It’s proprietary. It’s personnel data at the
end of the day.”
The percentage of black officials in the N.B.A. has increased in the past
several years, to 38 percent of 60 officials this season from 34 percent of 58
officials two years ago. Mr. Stern and Mr. Litvin said that the rise was
coincidental because the league does not consider race in the hiring process.
Mr. Wolfers and Mr. Price are scheduled to present their paper at the annual
meetings of the Society of Labor Economists on Friday and the American Law and
Economics Association on Sunday. They will then submit it to the National Bureau
of Economic Research and for formal peer review before consideration by an
Both men cautioned that the racial discrimination they claim to have found
should be interpreted in the context of bias found in other parts of American
“There’s bias on the basketball court,” Mr. Wolfers said, “but less than when
you’re trying to hail a cab at midnight.”
Pat Borzi contributed reporting from Minneapolis
and John Eligon from East
Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls, NYT,
Florida 84, Ohio State 75
as National Champions
April 3, 2007
The New York Times
By PETE THAMEL
ATLANTA, April 2 — With an emphatic and definitive victory over Ohio State in
the national title game, the Florida Gators left one final, indelible mark for
its legacy as one of the great teams in modern college basketball.
With a 84-75 victory over the Buckeyes, the Gators became the first team to win
back-to-back national titles since Duke in 1991 and 1992. By doing so, they made
a strong argument for being one of college basketball’s best teams since John
Wooden’s dynasty at U.C.L.A. fizzled out in the mid-1970s.
For decades, perhaps, the names Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Taurean
Green and Lee Humphrey will be used as the standard for comparison for the great
college basketball starting lineups.
They were Florida’s primary starters for the past two seasons and will be best
remembered as chemistry majors on the floor, with their unselfishness as strong
a defining trait as their talent.
With Bill Belichick, Coach Billy Donovan’s close friend, watching from the
stands, these Gators again personified the team concept that Belichick’s
Patriots brought to the National Football League. Florida is the first team to
win the N.C.A.A. football and men’s basketball championships in the same
“They have to go down as one of the best teams to ever play this game,” Donovan
said after the game.
Florida (35-5) won the university’s second basketball national title with strong
performances from a bevy of players. Each Gators starter except Noah scored in
double figures, led by Horford’s 18. The senior reserve forward Chris Richard
played a valuable role off the bench guarding Ohio State center Greg Oden.
Florida controlled the entire game but never quite put Ohio State away. The
Buckeyes cut the Florida lead to 6 late in the second half, but a 3-point shot
by Green with 4 minutes 50 seconds remaining gave Florida a 69-60 lead and
enough cushion to hang on.
As unlikely as it was for Noah, Brewer and Horford to return for their junior
years at Florida for this back-to-back title run, it was even more improbable
for them all to return as seniors.
The parallel anomaly to Florida’s juniors’ returning this season was the return
of elite freshmen like Ohio State’s Greg Oden to college basketball because of
new N.B.A. rules. Oden led the Buckeyes to a 35-4 record, but short of their
first national title since 1960.
The end of Oden’s career is considered somewhat of an inevitability in college
basketball circles; he is almost guaranteed to be the No. 1 pick in the N.B.A.
draft. Oden left with a bang. The lasting image of his final collegiate game
will be his hammering dunks on overmatched defenders and doing his trademark
pull-up on the rim.
But Oden’s singular dominance was overshadowed by the superior all-around talent
of Florida’s starting five. He finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
No play better epitomized these Gators than a key sequence early in the second
half. After a missed a shot, Horford dived for the loose ball. He tipped the
ball to Green, and four passes later Humphrey was all alone for a 3-point shot
at the top of the key. All that hustle, teamwork and unselfishness ended with
Humphrey making the shot and the Gators taking a 49-38 lead.
After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half and by 11 at halftime,
Ohio State came out with a flourish in the second half to cut the lead to 6.
The biggest storyline heading into the game was Oden’s ability to stay on the
floor, which he did surprisingly well. Oden had been mired in foul trouble
throughout this N.C.A.A. tournament.
Oden played less than three minutes of the first half of Ohio State’s semifinal
against Georgetown, and the Ohio State assistant Dan Peters questioned if
officials in college knew how to officiate centers because there had been so few
But the referees Karl Hess, Ed Corbett and Tony Greene let the big men muscle
around down low, and Oden did not pick up a foul until nearly 11 minutes had
passed. He left the game with 8:41 remaining in the first half because he needed
a rest, not because of foul trouble.
But an equally important part of the Buckeyes’ lineup, point guard Mike Conley
Jr., picked up two early fouls. Conley’s second foul came on a Green 3-point
attempt with 12:16 remaining in the half and the score tied at 11-11. Florida
took the lead with Green’s three free throws and proceeded to take control of
the half with an 8-2 run.
With Conley Jr. back in the game a few minutes later, Florida was able to
thoroughly take control of the game and build leads as high as 13, thanks to
precise outside shooting. The Gators made four 3-pointers in the final 5:39 of
An Ivan Harris 3-pointer had cut the Florida lead to 2 when 3-pointers from
Humphrey, Brewer and Green boosted the lead back to 11 within the next two
minutes. Heading into the game, many thought that Ohio State would drop into a
zone and protect Oden from the outside. But the Buckeyes only briefly flashed a
zone, as all four of the Gators’ pivotal 3-pointers in their late first-half
flurry came against man-to-man defense.
Gators Repeat as
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