Gladwell's theories help explain the Celtics' recent success

Gladwell's theories help explain the Celtics' recent success

I recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, which I would highly recommend.  In the book, Gladwell looks at how some of the most noteworthy athletes, businessmen, and musicians have achieved success.  While talent plays a big factor, other influences such as age, family history, and opportunity all play even larger roles.  For example, while many talented computer programmers have existed throughout the years, the most noteworthy ones (i.e. Bill Gates), were all born around the same time.  When computers really started taking off, people with talent like Gates were at the perfect age to jump right in and eventually start successful companies.  An article by J.A. Adante of ESPN looks to apply these similar concepts to last year’s Boston Celtics.

I won’t reiterate Adante’s article since I want everyone to read it, but he does a fair job at explaining how unmeasurable factors such as the legacy of the Celtics play a role in winning a championship.  The Big 3 may be some of the most talented players of our era, but they have also come together at the perfect time, playing for the a franchise with a tremendous legacy.  Lately, it seems that numbers have dominated the NBA game.  While I enjoy the work of guys like John Hollinger and have been fascinated reading about the recent Sports Analytics conference, I still feel that there are many aspects of the game that simple cannot be measured by numbers.  However, when we look at theories such as Gladwell’s, we can apply some basic principles that help us to understand why certain teams and players are successful.

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