Monday, June 16, 2003

I am so good at predicting basketball outcomes these days.

Last summer, I predicted that the Lakers would not be an obstacle for the Kings in the coming year. This was borne out time and time again.

I also predicted that the Dallas Mavericks would be the Kings' greatest challenge. This also came true.

Then, after attending a Spurs/Kings game in December, I predicted that the Spurs would in fact win the NBA Championship this year.

Damn, I'm good.

Interestingly, I am also good at managing my 401(k) portfolio. Too bad I don't have any liquid funds in the stock market. I'd be sitting pretty now.

What's most interesting about all this is the question of whether the ability to analyze numbers and make predictions based on statistics really matters more than instinct. Sure, I looked at the statistics of the Spurs over the course of the season. Sure, I knew that the Kings and Mavericks were well-matched opponents. And certainly, I listen to Marketplace on NPR on an almost daily basis. Yet, I cannot point to any one data point, nor set of data points, that led me to make the predictions I had. I just go by instinct. I wonder if on some level, everyone who succeeds does this. I know this promotes a more deterministic model of the universe, but there's something to be said for inherent aptitude in any situation. It's just too bad I'm not a betting person. However, I do believe a co-worker owes me lunch based on tonight's basketball game.

If only I could confidently predict that the Mariners were going to win the World Series this year. But I fear that the average age of the team will catch up with them, just like it has for the past several years. They consistently begin every season at the top of the heap, but around August, one or several key players get injured, and this ultimately slows them down too much to bounce back. Which leads me to the assertion that the Mariners are the Kings of baseball, and the Kings are the Mariners of basketball. If only we could find a permanent cure for injuries!

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