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Bill Polian vs. Mark Cuban: Which One Do You Think Likes Stats?

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Hey everyone...just a quick-hitter here to get some discussion going...

This past weekend was the Sloan Sports Analytic Conference at MIT. You'd think with a name and location like that, pocket protectors would outnumber actual sports officials by at least 10 to 1. That was basically my experience when I attended the New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports at Harvard back in 2007. There were a lot of Florida Dannys (Dannies?), Aaron Schatzes, and Justin Wolfers' there, so pretty much everyone was already a believer in statistical applications for sport.

This wasn't the case at the SSAC, where the main headline coming out of the conference was (a) how much of a believer in stats Mark Cuban is, and (b) how much of a non-believer Bill Polian is. In addition to Cuban and Polian, other high-profile attendees included Avery Johnson (former Mavericks coach), Brent Barry (former NBA guard), Jonathan Kraft (current Patriots President), and several ESPN personalities (Brian Kenny, Bill Simmons, etc.). Such a diverse audience gave the "I don't believe in stats" crowd ample opportunity to air their opinions.

I didn't actually attend SSAC (live 2,000 miles away + didn't have research to present unlike the NESSIS in 2007), but there's plenty of reaction from various outlets. Here's a sample:

Aaron @ Football Outsiders

Kevin Pelton @ Basketball Prospectus

Neil Paine @ Basketball Reference

Evan Hochschild @ Crawfish Boxes

That's just a sampling, but it's a pretty representative sample (sorry, just can't get avoid that statgeekery pun). So, take a look at these links if you're interested, absorb the points that are made, and then let's start yet another discussion thread on stats vs. no stats.

Comments section after the jump...