A Holistic History of Basketball, NBA

[#1] A Holistic History of Basketball

“Lebron brought 3 championships to 3 different teams. Beat that.” – Mario Cajas

“@Mario Cajas  how about winning 11 on the same team and not crying like a b*tch cause you don’t like playing on the Same team as your stepdad” – Ben Scott

As we can see, NBA GOAT debates aren’t the most intelligible discussions out there. Everyone has their two cents and, although I love that and it will always be necessary to spark conversation, not everyone has the facilities to properly evaluate a player’s GOAT case. I don’t necessarily see that as a harsh truth, but rather a universal truth. This belief is a product of years of listening to and reading people claim the deep complexities of basketball, yet settle for measly measuring tools like points per game and rings to determine their GOAT. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

However, the most regretful part of this sentiment is that despite some years following basketball analysis intently, I’m not among those extremely qualified individuals who have gained expertise in knowing the ins and outs, the nitty-gritty, and granulated details of the game to make the strongest inferences and observations to contribute to a progressive GOAT conversation. I continually find myself second-guessing my rankings and takes, knowing there’s more information out there I haven’t yet considered, seemingly an infinite series of known unknowns. I’ve developed a criterion of how I view the game that I’m confident in, but I’m once again feeling the need to “tear it down” and rebuild from the ground up.

That’s what this series is all about: documenting my attempts to re-learn the sport. Starting with Dr. James Naismith in the 1890s and moving through the first appearances of the NBA to the merger, the rise in the sport’s international popularity in the late-’80s and mid-’90s, and the three-point explosion of the modern era, I’ll take a hardcore deep-dive into the holistic states of the sport. The goals of this research include:

  • Understand the context of the league(s) across time.
  • Learn the customs and practices of different eras.
  • Analyze the evolution of coaching and systematic patterns.
  • Gain experience in evaluating teams, players, and coaching.
  • Improve the methods used to describe on-court events.

among more!

Once these studies intercept with the current season (which will likely be long past 2021), I’ll “conclude” the series with a more reliable GOAT list that will look to evaluate as many careers as possible. I make this path clear because, as I progress in my studies, I’ll write about the lessons I’ve learned, discuss the events of different times, and explore the new ideas I’ve been presented with through installments in this series. Aside from acting as a self-teaching method, I hope these articles can serve as a reference for historical research of a “holistic” history of basketball to interested readers perhaps searching for a similar way to reaching the “Plateau of Sustainability” on the Dunning-Kruger curve. But as students of basketball, we’ll continue to unveil new details from 50 years ago long after these times conclude, but in the team, I hope this can provide some fresh and new information we can all use to understand the game we love.

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