This weekend, our Dan Devine visited the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a meeting of the stats-inclined minds where professionals and amateurs alike can communicate about developments in the field, make awkward small talk, and pass each other resumes. (Read Dan's reports — they are really great.) While Sloan features many luminaries on panels, one man is a rock star beyond all others: Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets and the figure most responsible for bringing analytics from the background to the foreground of the NBA discussion.
Most characterizations of Morey place him as a fiercely intelligent, nerdy guy with a willingness to think outside the box. However, new video has surfaced that suggests Morey may be a better athlete than we think. In mid-February, Rockets guard Jeremy Lin held a fundraiser for his JLIN Foundation in Houston. Morey took part and proceeded to demolish his prized free-agent pickup in table tennis, displaying a range of shots and impressive quickness.
It's surprising, in a way, but this is also pretty much exactly how I'd imagine Morey being good at table tennis. He has a routine for his serve, pumps his fist after big winners, and even appears to have come prepared in full athletic clothing. Lin, on the other hand, did not take the match very seriously, presumably because he cannot afford to strain a muscle in a game of table tennis.
Yet, whether Morey is cool or not, he deserves credit for this performance. In bringing this level of intensity to a friendly game, he showed his team that he understands what it takes to win. The man is not just a number cruncher. He is a champion.
(Video via Ballerball)