Sloan Sports, Cuban and Simmons: Mark the Snark Cuts Through the B.S.

Cuban and Bill Simmons: Mark the Snark Cuts Through the B.S.
MIT Sloan Sports Conference, Boston, March 3.  Live B.S. Report: Cuban One-on-One with Simmons

Simmons kept his mouth shut through most of this session. Cuban rolled in late. He’d missed a panel he was supposed to fill yesterday. And he started off with some puffery about “his” NBA championship, and trophy (one tweeter commented, “did you see him in uniform out there with Dirk? – I didn’t“), and I thought this would be painful. But Mark the Snark rescued us. With truth-telling.

The NBA’s lockout was “a big waste.” How often do you hear that kind of echo of Harvard’s negotiation project, which insisted so often that failure to agree reflects, not a lack of agreement, but lack of  imaginative attention to available negotiation tactics?

And the Mav’s championship was, according to Cuban, a direct result of Coach Rick Carlisle’s “logging” of with in-game player performance stats – which are the result of the work of four Mav-employee geeks. Cuban remained opaque about the details –which would have been the meat for all these analytics-types. And, to be fair, his opacity weakened his presentation (though there were many there hyperventilating, and oblivious, in the face of his celebrity.) In fact, I’ll weigh in here: why didn’t the Sloan people use their bully-pulpit to demand that Cuban give some “weight” on this? —  some charts, some outlines, which let the crowd know which metrics brought (ostensibly) a championship to Dallas?  It’s inexcusable. And the absence of that kind of “inside” data reduced Cuban’s appearance all the way down to Jay Leno interview-status, In fact, this criticism has broad, fundamental application: an analytics conference ought be focused on empirical data, and every presentation ought be supported by thorough, posted-in-the-cloud data, spreadsheets, and narratives. None of that was available.

And Cuban gave a good hint as to what’s coming in the off-season, suggesting that he suspects that the market may be “inflationary”, and that “we might just keep our same guys.

But Cuban’s figured out the Comish, commenting that “the commissioner didn’t know what he was doing” with respect to the Chris Paul fiasco, but going on to explain – with no explanation—“that as much as (the media) wanted to portray it as unique, it wasn’t.” I can’t agree, but this pattern of lack of opportunity for followup — throughout the conference – is something that a digitally and speed-based national conference ought remedy.

Finally, Cuban came out directly and squarely in contrast to the comments by Jonathan Kraft of the Pats. Cuban: [On wifi in stadiums]: “I don’t want people looking down, I want people contributing to the energy.”  Kraft, in contrast, painted it as though – if only he could afford it – the Pats would’ve long ago equipped their stadium so that fans could tweet and stream in their seats. I’m with Cuban on this, and his view seem entirely more down to earth. Morons want to drown the sports in schlock. Cuban may be fooling us, but there’s a hint there of a guy who isn’t, in the end, focused entirely on the bottom line. Even if there isn’t, then Cuban’s concluded that he’ll maximize his profits by avoiding the pop guns, jump-shooting poodles, and girls in shiny white leather knee-high boots.

Cuban’s good for the game.

. The record below shows statements by Cuban, unless otherwise indicated.
The lockout was the biggest waste of time ever. What we gained from how long we fought was ridiculous.”

I’m incredibly superstitious. I have to drink my Diet Coke at exactly the right time, or else we won’t get stops.”
“The postseason will not be any indication of what happened in the regular season”
Nothing that you can do can quantify how tired teams are or the fact that they haven’t had time to practice.
All that matters this season is making the playoffs. Nothing else can be counted on, relied upon,expected.
What he learned during long lockout negotiations: “Jimmy Dolan is really good at playing guitar and telling jokes.”
On lockout: NBA really stands for “Nothing But Attorneys.”
Re: Tyson Chandler: His value was just as important in the clubhouse as on the court.
On the market potentially re-aligning itself in Year 3 of the CBA because of the new luxury tax system
Just mentioned Mavs were looking at ~$15M luxury tax under old CBA. New CBA? ~$65M. Totally different economics.
Credits in-game data logging as key to #Mavs success. Four guys log data, relay it to Beech & then Carlisle on the bench.
Mavs won the championship because their coach uses the real-time player stats
On having tons of cap room after this season: “We might just keep our same guys. market could be inflationary.
MC glimpses of Mavs’ winning strategy vs. the Heat: “It was where we put LeBron and D.Wade on the court.”
Tweeter: Pretty sure I was just witness to @mcuban next fine. “the commissioner didn’t know what he was doing”
On Chris Paul (CP3) trade: “That was the commissioner not knowing what he’s doing”
MC trade guidelines: When trading away a top 10 player, we always package our worst contract with him.
About media: “There’s reality, and then there’s what you guys say.”
On CP3 vetoed trade: “As much as (the media) wanted to portray it as unique, it wasn’t.”

Bill Simmons: I’d have such great wifi service in my stadium. MC: bec. you’d have a team no one would want to watch.
MC says he is constant contact with Lamar Odom, texting all the time

On how he controls leaks: only 3 people — him, GM, and coach — discuss trades
“We don’t sell basketball. We sell entertainment and unique experiences.
Mavs don’t necessarily try to maximize ticket revenue. Focus on value creation and entertainment
‘We limit season tickets to allow more fans to come to games, which is a different approach than just maximizing revenue.”
On wifi in stadiums: I don’t want people looking down, I want people contributing to the energy.

Tweeter: Cuban just got all qualitative on a quantitative crowd
The single most important thing to study in fan behavior is to ensure they’re EXCITED at the game to maximize entertainment value
MC – “if you work for me and start the wave you will be fired”
“We’re most focused on the psychological side of analytics; integrating coaching, analytics, and performance.
Television is gonna drive social media and social media is gonna drive television. TV is the future of TV. Not the web.
Majoring in “sports management is the new rocks for jocks,” Gets 20 resumes a wk from ppl who say they’ll work for free
Simmons: “What’s your advice to kids in school or just out of it who want to get into the sports business?” Cuban: “Don’t.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
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