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Jimmy Butler had 25 points in Game 4,

but the Nuggets won, 108-95, to move one win from their first title.


Photograph: 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 a.m. ET




















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 Bucks.


Photograph: Michael Mcloone/USA Today Sports,

via Reuters


LeBron James Scoring Tracker:

How Close Is He to the N.B.A. Record?

The Lakers star is fewer than 160 points away

from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record,

which Abdul-Jabbar set before James was born.


Jan. 26, 2023




















Arizona’s Nick Johnson (13)

has a playing style reminiscent of his uncle,

the Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.


Photograph: Ethan Miller

Getty Images


College Basketball|West

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 game


14 March 2007

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/west/2007-03-13-niagara-famu_N.htm  - broken link

















Philadelphia selected Allen Iverson

with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft.


Photograph: Chris McGrath

Getty Images


Sixers trade Iverson to Nuggets

Updated 12/20/2006        12:02 AM ET

By David DuPree, USA TODAY

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/2006-12-19-iverson-trade_x.htm - broken link

















Lakers star Kobe Bryant

tries to find some elbow room around Charlotte center Emeka Okafor

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

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/games/2006-12-29-lakers-bobcats_x.htm - broken link




















































































street basketball        UK










basketball legend












USA > basketball legend        UK










basketball superstar and world-class athlete


















mount a basketball hoop








































pro basketball / National Basketball Association    NBA






























NBA title










 clinch the title










NBA player



















Lauren Hill

during her first college basketball game

for Mount St. Joseph University.


Photograph: Tom Uhlman

Associated Press


Lauren Hill, Who Fought Tumor to Play College Basketball, Dies at 19



APRIL 10, 2015



















Hannah's Story    NYT    2 August 2013





Hannah's Story

Video        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.



























Women's National Basketball Association    W.N.B.A.


















Women's College Basketball

















college basketball












Perry Eugene Wallace Jr.    1948-2017


the first black varsity basketball player

in Southeastern Conference history

in the 1960s

as a strong-rebounding forward

for his hometown Vanderbilt University

in Nashville










Men's college basketball


























USA > slam dunk contest        UK

















National Collegiate Athletic Association    NCAA











N.C.A.A. / NCAA > men’s basketball tournament










NCAA > college basketball tournament > men's March Madness games










The Bracket Tournament        2008










NCAA tournament        2007



















Boston Celtics








Brooklyn Nets






Cleveland Cavaliers






Chicago Bulls








Cleveland Cavaliers






Dallas Mavericks






The Denver Nuggets






Golden State Warriors








Houston Rockets






Indiana Pacers








New York Knicks











Portland Trail Blazers









San Antonio Spurs









The Magic






Miami Heat











The Lakers




























final buzzer









































bracketing in sports tournaments > seeding


















jump shot


















halftime buzzer






























































Stephen Curry


























LeBron James










lebron-james-score-record-tracker.html - January 24, 2023

































USA > Magic Johnson        UK













Michael Jordan:

50 memories to mark 50 golden years        UK        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
















USA > Kareem Abdul-Jabbar        UK / USA





























Willis Reed of the Knicks grabbed a rebound

as Wilt Chamberlain of the Los Angeles Lakers looked on

in a playoff game at Madison Square Garden in 1970.


Photograph: Larry C. Morris

The New York Times


Willis Reed, Hall of Fame Center for Champion Knicks, Dies at 80

He was beloved by New York fans for his willingness to play hurt,

as memorably exemplified in the decisive Game 7 of the 1970 N.B.A. finals

at Madison Square Garden.


March 21, 2023











Willis Reed Jr.    1942-2023


brawny and inspirational hub

of two Knicks championship teams

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 physicality

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


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

'Trump is where he is because of his appeal to racism'

The basketball legend and social activist

who counted Ali and King among his contemporaries

discusses Colin Kaepernick, LaVar Ball and Trump’s America


Friday 8 December 2017    18.26 GMT




















Bill Russell

with longtime Boston Celtics head coach Red Auerbach.


When Auerbach retired he named Russell to take his place,

making him the first Black head coach in the NBA.


Photograph: Bill Chaplis



Bill Russell, basketball legend with record 11 NBA titles, dies at 88


July 31, 2022    1:39 PM ET

























William Felton 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        USA


















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

in 1994















Earl Francis Lloyd    1928-2015


Earl Lloyd (...)

became the first black player

to appear in an N.B.A. game

when he took the court

for the Washington Capitols

in October 1950,

three and a half years

after Jackie Robinson

broke modern major league baseball’s

color barrier









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



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 1991.

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,






Long Arms Reach for the Rim


February 19, 2011

The New York Times



JUBA, Sudan — 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 Chicago Bulls.

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 shot-blocking sensation.

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 Illinois.

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


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 Orlando Magic.

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 seconds left.

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 4.

“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,






Study of N.B.A. Sees

Racial Bias in Calling Fouls


May 2, 2007

The New York Times



An academic 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 police.

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 relevant data.

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 commit fouls.

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 refereeing crew.

“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 that data.”

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 economic journal.

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 society.

“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 Rutherford, N.J.

Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls, NYT, 2.5.2007,






College basketball

Florida 84, Ohio State 75

Gators Repeat

as National Champions


April 3, 2007

The New York Times



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 academic year.

“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 recently.

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 the half.

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 National Champions,










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