Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sometimes Bias is Bias, Sometimes Bias is Fact

If you are just showing up there has been a back and forth debate between 4Real and myself, as well as a poll on the side over who was more Dominant MJ or Tiger. I got personal in my original rebuttal against 4Real, and he claimed bias. So the point of this response is to reiterate my original while trying to find what bias there was other than saying Jordan was better than Ehlo, which I'm pretty sure is fact.

While I fully agree that Tiger is the best golfer in the world right now hands down, and that he has been exceptional in his sport and even the most dominant in his sport, that is not the argument, at least as far as I thought, and who knows maybe my extreme bias is responsible for me missing the point. The point is Tiger vs. MJ: Who is/was more dominant. Well that’s not an easy task to separate for many reasons. Awards, Statistics, Competition, Accolades, these are nowhere like one another between PGA and NBA. Sure you can force things into molds to make a comparison possible but the bottom line is, it isn’t.

One man is the best individual athlete at an individual sport. One is the best individual athlete in a team game. The fact of the matter is, there is not a correct answer. To say that MJ is more dominant than Tiger is to say that what Tiger has accomplished isn’t on the same level or that Golf pales in comparison. The same holds true for alleging the opposite. My arguments were not necessarily for MJ, sure on occasion they may have leaned that way, but moreover the point of my “biased/homer” response was that comparing the two was not possible, specifically based on the stats and reasoning that 4Real dropped on us. Rule number one of any argument is to show only the good. So by taking stats and leaving other things out you can prove your point easier. Not necessarily lying or making things up but by omitting things and making the argument fit your thesis rather than vice versa. These are commonplace in any English 101 class.

4Real takes offense at the shots I took at him, which were in part because it was just waiting to be served up but also as an attack on his character. Some might look at his article as pure fact, and I just wanted to make the record straight that 4Real in fact on many occasions has made his case, very strongly in fact, for a hatred of His Airness. I on the other hand begin with a full disclosure so as not to confuse the reader into thinking it’s purely factual, but rather a response to 4Real’s claims.

So once again, my as unbiased as possible breakdown of why 4Real’s first, and following articles are wrong.

Point 1 – Rookie Comparison:
4Real points out that they are comparable since both players were Rookies of the Year in their respective sports. My statement as a rebuttal was “What Tiger did was remarkable yes, but using the award as a comparison is a stretch.” What I meant by this was not that it was a stretch to assume that Golf Rookie of the Year was as high an honor as NBA Rookie of the Year, but rather that comparing the two in their Rookie seasons was a stretch in and of itself. Once again, I’m not saying either player wins in this battle, I’m saying the comparison doesn’t work because of so many different levels of attention, of assumed leadership, of media interaction. Being a young, multi-cultural kid, beating older white veterans in a historically older white country club sport, and carrying a new breed of golfer title with you everytime you tee off is an outstanding amount of pressure, it’s comparable but not the same as being the leader savior of a historically struggling basketball team in a major market who was the 3rd pick. Neither is easier/harder or more impressive than the other, they are just completely different seasons, players, games, and decades. And they were both the best young talent in their respective sport at the time.

Point 2 – All Team Honors:
Again 4Real makes points, that I rebutted, and he rebutted, comparing the money list to the all-NBA honors. My argument there was not MJ was better it was, “Again another off-comparison. The awards are voted on not based merely on accomplishments. Also the distinction that First team selections are the equivalent of a Top 5 in the Money list is off” I was simply pointing out that 4Real’s original facts were slightly skewed and that comparing money list to all-NBA didn’t work, and I used K.J. Choi as an example. 4Real decided that he wanted to change it from money list to golf world rankings. Which is fine except for one thing, it is the essentially the same thing. You are comparing an award that is vote based (all-NBA honors) to the World Golf Rankings which are based on performance. There isn’t a ranking system in the NBA because there are so many factors. Position, Wins/Losses, FG%, 3p%, REB, BLK, STL, AST, TO, etc. There is no statistical way to breakdown and show whether or not Jordan was the #1 or 2 ranked at his position let alone the entire league. While over his career on many occasions he led in points or points per game, he never led in rebounds or blocks because he was a guard. Once again, my point was not that Jordan was better, only that the comparison being used was flawed. And as for competition sake as I mentioned. There may be 1000s of golfers in the world but the guy at the 49er Country Club in Tucson has a PGA Tour card, competition with Tiger he is not. There are more Golfers than players in the NBA, but as far as acceptable competition there are only a handful of golfers in that upper echelon who compete week in and out with Tiger and each other. Going into each golf season any golf fan will be able to correctly guess 16 of the top 20 golfers, the same doesn’t hold true for the NBA. Competition is much different.

Point 3 – Championships:
My point once again rested on the comparison since again it is a team sport and as Dirk, LeBron, Nash, Ewing, Malone, etc can tell you, it takes more than one player to win a championship. Even if you consider Tiger’s Points Championships (7/13) this is yet another astounding number, and if you read carefully not once do I say that Tiger has somehow accomplished less. But with the points championships being the most wins equaling the most points and thus a championship then last year the Spurs weren’t the NBA Champs the Mavs were with 67 wins compared to the Spurs 58. If you want to use that as a comparison, we need to re-write a lot of the records in the record books. The fact of the matter is you can’t compare individual championships to Team Championships. Once again if you read it all I did is break it down to the only possible comparison, number of championships out of number possible. And as for 4Real’s note of “Did I mention its only possible for one person to win a major or championship and not 15 like in the NBA” That’s exactly what my point was, comparing team to individual is not possible.

Point 4 – MVP Amended:
4Real amended this category to include all accomplishments rather than MVP to close to gap of comparison. The problem with that is it doesn’t solve any of the problems above it just compiles them nicely into one line of summation. As for his breakdown of Money, Points, and World Golf Rankings, all three are almost identical. The more tournaments you win the more points you get the higher you’re ranked and the more money you bring home. And if you want to say that plus a major it just goes back to the point that you get 4 chances at a major a year. As to 4Real’s point that 15 people on a team win a championship, that's true but it’s still only one champion. Golf could have 4 or even 5 champions. One each of the majors plus one for ranking or whathaveyou. Not to take anything from Tiger, my point was simply that “in an individual sport it’s easier to get the award because it's singly on you.” If you win 4 or 5 Tournaments and a Major you’ll probably win player of the year, and congrats. In basketball you could be the league leader in scoring and top 5 in other categories but if your team is 38-44 the chances of you pulling down that MVP award are slim. 1986-87 season. Chicago Bulls go 40-42. Get swept in the 1st round of the playoffs. Michael Jordan was #1 in the NBA in Pts., PPG, FG, FT, and Player Efficiency Rating, among other categories and #2 in Steals and STL/G. Once again, I am not saying that Jordan was better in this category, just that it’s a false comparison because if Tiger was #1 in almost every conceivable category he would be the MVP because there are no team Wins and Losses for comparison sake. Once again, I’ll repeat it was not a pro Jordan statement rather a fact that the comparison is weak. If with 4Real’s amended additions.

The only real comparison would be individual to individual (Dunk Contest?) but since that won’t work team to team?

Ryder Cup Stats for Tiger Woods according to the Ryder Cup site through 2006 are: 10-13-2 (3-1-1 single, 7-12-1 team) and the US is 1-4 in the last 5 which he appeared on. All-Time there are 104 US Golfers who have scored more of their Ryder Cup Team's points than Tiger. I am not saying that this is the penultimate comparison because golf is still an individual game, it just goes to show that when teams are involved things can change.

Fact of the matter is this, team settings, Tiger doesn’t win. Sunday’s and losing, Tiger Doesn’t win, Eli Manning has more comebacks on Sundays than Tiger Woods. I reiterate. Tiger Woods is probably still the most dominating golfer of all time even with those stats being accurate. But, to call him the most dominating athlete of all time goes too far. I would have to say that based on all statistics registered here between 4Real and myself, I give the edge to Jordan. But that doesn’t change the fact that the comparison between team and individual sport is not possible at least on a fair level. And the only comparison Tiger’s numbers in team events are much much lower than Jordan’s. Jordan had much more heart and drive and showed the ability to go big under pressure, he’s got comebacks and he’s 2-0 when he plays other countries. I’m not saying this as the beginning to yet another argument rather than just backing up my original arguments that A) comparing the two just isn’t possible, and 2) on the comparable stats of heart, desire, and intensity, I give the SLIGHT edge to Jordan as the most dominant athlete of all time. No disrepect to Eldrick, I think he is an absolutely amazing golfer, competitor, and athlete, and I wouldn't want anyone else on the USA Ryder Cup Team. My point from the first second was that making the comparison makes no sense, and that if I had to choose between the two I look at what Jordan has done as slightly more dominant than Woods, and if that makes me biased so be it.