Bucks Diary

Friday, July 04, 2008

Call it "Michael Redd" Rigidity

I wish when I was an undergrad at UW-Madison I would have known that sports could be meshed so easily with economics. I certainly would not have done my senior thesis on the inverted demand curve for certain luxury items, I'll tell you that much (a thesis which my professor said at the time "stretched credulity", but which turned out to be -- in fact -- a notion slightly ahead of its time. I actually got the original idea observing the market that emerged around each new edition of Nike Air Jordans... the pricier Nike made them, the more people wanted them).

A couple of weeks ago I hemmed and hawed as I tried to explain why I thought trading Michael Redd would be a net minus for the Bucks. Today I learned reading the WoW Journal that someone had already neatly synthesized my thoughts many years ago. Economics to the rescue!

"Bobby Layne Rigidity"... that's what I was trying to get at without knowing what I was getting at. Kind of a cool name for a theory, anyway.

I'll just let Professor Berri of the WoW Journal take it from here.

"The general rule of thumb in the NBA is that the team that gets the All-Star in a trade is the team that comes out ahead. This rule is consistent with the idea of “Bobby Layne Rigidity”, offered by Walter Neale in a 1964 article (appearing in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and titled: “The Peculiar Economics of Professional Sports”). According to Neale - as the name Bobby Layne Rigidity implies — a team cannot replace one good quarterback with two poor signal callers.

Likewise, it’s difficult in the NBA to substitute a collection of non-stars for one star player. As noted previously in this forum, the Pareto Principle appears to hold in the NBA. In other words, roughly 80% of wins are produced by 20% of the talent. Consequently, when a team loses a major wins producer, it tends to suffer."
(excerpted directly from The Wages of Wins Journal, June 29, 2008 post entitled "Did the Pacers lose a star?")


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