Could Win Score figure in a multimillion dollar lawsuit?
If you have not heard by now, the career of man/mountain Kenny George of UNC-Asheville appears to have been tragically cut short by a staph infection he contracted while attending Pete Newell's Big Man Camp. As a result of complications from the infection, doctors were required to amputate part of George's foot. (Suddenly, Kellen Winslow's complaints take on a whole different light, don't they?).
Undoubtedly, Newell's camp and its insurer will soon have to defend themselves against a rather large lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. George. And the central damage issue in that suit will obviously be "How much could Kenny George have earned had he played in the National Basketball Association?"
That being so, if I were counsel to Mr. George, I would have a post-it note with the name "Professor David Berri... Wages of Wins" attached very prominently to the case file.
That's because, in the unlikely event such a suit were not settled out of court, the defense would undoubtedly march a parade of experts to the stand who would undermine George's potential earning capacity by describing him as too injury prone, too clumsy, too unathletic, and just too slow to have any realistic hope of making an impact in the NBA.
But this is the information age. Clear, objective, and easy-to-explain numerical evidence will often trump even the strongest subjective opinion evidence in the minds of a jury. And that's what Professor Berri can provide. Using his Win Score metric, he can blunt any unflattering "eyeball" assessments of George's physical ability by pointing to George's proven collegiate production and explaining what that production suggests about his professional prospects. (I'd also mix in a clip of Tyler Hansborough and the rest of the top rated UNC Tar Heels looking like the University of Lilliput against him last season... with this facial edited out, of course.)
Professor Berri (and Erich Doerr) has demonstrated the existence of a fairly strong correlation between the Win Score a player produces in college and the Win Score he could be expected to produce at the NBA level. And by Win Score measurement, Mr. George -- while slow, unathletic, and downright clumsy looking at times -- was the most productive player per minute in college basketball last season. Thus, Berri's Win Score research could be used to establish George's potential to be a very productive professional basketball player... which in turn might have made him a "Refrigerator Perry" type of commercial sensation (a 7'9'' player? Could you imagine the endorsement possibilities if he were legit?) Which all adds up to a fairly substantial amount of potential earnings foregone by Mr. George as a proximate result of the Newell Camp's negligence (hell, two years ago the Bucks were so concerned about staph infections they practically nuked their St. Francis training facilities).
That, combined with Mr. George's obviously tragic storyline -- he went to the camp to make himself better, and it ended his career -- should be enough to win a sizeable award from any jury.
But would that make him whole? At this point, I doubt anything could.