I'm fascinated with people I think of as "underrated" — folks whose contribution is larger than their reputation would suggest. I wonder, why don't more people appreciate this person? What do I see that others do not? (The same thought process of anyone who buys a stock they feel is underpriced.)
Michael Lewis has the cover piece in today's NYT Magazine titled The No-Stats All-Star. Lewis makes the case that Shane Battier of the NBA team Houston Rockets is a seriously underrated player. His contributions are not easily tracked by the conventional statistics, but whenever Battier is on the court the team does better. Why?
It's the philosophy of Moneyball (a book which looked at the Oakland A's use of unusual statistics to size up players) applied to basketball. I recommend reading the whole thing. And then asking yourself, "Who's the Shane Battier on our team?" Every organization has one.
There's a throwaway sentence in the piece that touches on a class / race issue that is worthy of an entire separate article:
Is it a coincidence that many of the things a player does in white basketball to prove his character — take a charge, scramble for a loose ball — are more pleasantly done on a polished wooden floor than they are on inner-city asphalt?