Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Numbers can never tell you if a player has heart:Roland Beech, the basketball statistics guy ["He Stats! He Scores!," Feb. 11], sadly reveals his limited understanding of the game with this defense of Joe Barry Carroll. "JB was essentially a decent player, but everybody expected so much more from him," Beech says. To obtain JB as the No. 1 draft pick of the entire1980 draft, the Warriors traded Robert Parrish, and the No. 3 pick, who turned out to be Kevin McHale, to the Boston Celtics.

For that price, JB was understandably expected to be a great player. Instead, as anyone who actually understands basketball and watched JB play will confirm, he fully deserved the name fans gave him, "Joe Barely Cares." He did not have the basketball spirit or mind to be an excellent, let alone a great, player. He played lackadaisically, concerned only with padding his own statistics. Mr. Beech's "quantified information" about the NBA will never mean much until he finds statistics that can measure the heart, intensity, and focus a player brings to his team.

Denis Clifford
Albany

Stats only tell part of the story:Interesting article. It is obvious that some players have a negative impact on a team while putting up decent stats. Mr. Beech's system is similar to the system used in hockey, where they have kept this kind of stat for many years. I'm surprised neither Mr. Beech nor your writer, Tommy Craggs, mentioned this.

Team sports are defined too much by individual stats; you'd think that experienced coaches and general managers would know who is positively impacting their teams without this +/- system, yet they sometimes do not. Congratulations to Mr. Beech for trying to clarify the value of a particular player in the team effort.

John Nunes
Oakland

Attaboy

To Dan Siegler: The Feb. 11 Puni comic strip was dead on! I've read several of his comic strips over the last few years. But this particular strip inspired me to send him high praises.

His reference to "Missing White Girl" will, I hope, bring attention to the disparity between missing minority children versus missing affluent white children from Utah. Where is Marc Klaas when a minority child is missing?

P. Stephney
Sunset

Nasty But Maybe True

Too much low-income housing could wreck S.F.: I read in Matt Smith's column comments made by Barbara Meskunas, president of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, that the S.F. director of long-range planning wished to turn the city into Calcutta ["A Tale Worth Retelling," Feb. 4]. It may interest folks to know, though her comment appears on all counts to be mean-spirited and not sincere, there may be some truth to the allegation.

Two years ago, the Indian government announced a plan to build over 80,000 dwellings in Calcutta to rehouse people who are homeless or living in substandard housing -- half the money to finance them would come in the form of outright grants, half in low-interest loans. If one would take the comparison to heart, it does seem that Amit Ghosh is indeed trying to echo that effort by floating discussion of a plan to move toward providing adequate housing for city residents in all income ranges.

Though her comments were undeniably out of bounds, unwittingly Meskunas hit on a comparison to which we should pay some attention. The efforts of the general plan's "Housing Element" to spark a serious discussion of how San Francisco can manage to adequately house all its residents is something of which Amit Ghosh, and all of us, should be proud.

Paul Quin
Mission

Correction

A Feb. 18 story, "Enslaved in Palo Alto," misidentified the legal organization representing Alice B. in her asylum claim. Linda Brewer, an attorney at Cooley Godward who took the case pro bono through the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights' Asylum Program, is handling her asylum matters. SF Weekly regrets the error.

Clarification

A letter to the editor published Feb. 18 ["Boys Don't Cry"] stated that Carl Nagin, in his Feb. 4 review of an art show ["Home Work"], "[made] the point that 'men are emotionally inferior to women.'" Mr. Nagin's article made no such assertion.

 
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