MEASURING UP: THE TRICKY BUSINESS OF HEIGHTS AND WEIGHT
By Steve Lowery
They say that numbers don’t lie. Then again, Mark Twain, who is way smarter then They, said there are “Lies, damn lies and statistics.”
As this terrific piece by David Fleming for ESPN The Magazine makes clear, even those numbers we take as gospel — Kevin Durant is 7-feet tall, for instance — are actually completely open to interruption and general fudging.
The article looks at several aspects of the numbers game, one which totally makes sense to us; that would be those trying to make themselves more attractive to teams looking to draft or sign them. Of course, in looking to hook up with a team, you might embellish a bit on your height as a basketball player or weight as an outside linebacker; it’s no different than some other Joe overstating his comfort level working with Microsoft Excel to snag a gig with Costco corporate.
But there is that other facet of The Big Lie(s) — i.e. producing false numbers purely for either the vanity or in some bizarre attempt at intimidation.
Having to do with the former, Fleming quotes a former trainer of former NBA player Nate Robinson, saying “… if we stretched Nate and hung him upside down and put him in space gravity, he might have been 5-7 — maybe … Nate was one of the all-time greatest all-around athletes. So much heart and ability. But man, he still wanted to be 5-9 in that program so bad for some reason.”
I get the reason, being 5-8 myself. And, truth be told, this doesn’t just happen in sports. Perhaps you haven’t availed yourself of the wonder that is online dating, but that is a universe where numbers — whether height, weight, age or suggested income — are all fairly liquid.
But there is that other reason. It would be the reason that, throughout my high school basketball career, I was always listed in game programs at 5-11 or 6-0. I have no idea why. Anyone who saw me could instantly see I was clearly not that tall, and yet, this kind of stuff goes on all the time. J.J. Barera relates similar experiences throughout his career in the piece. So why do they do it? Is there some expectation that teams will see their opponent has a 6-0 guard or 6-6 center (who’s really 6-4) and instantly forfeit out of pure terror. Not likely given their 6-5 (6-2, after he’s stretched) power forward.