The use of analytics to evaluate the action unfolding in the NBA is a hot-button issue between the drivers of the movement and former players. In a discussion with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose discussed how he views the discourse between both sides.
When asked about why former players aren’t always onboard with analytics-driven observations, Rose revealed that his sticking point comes down to racial overtones.
No. 1, there are many people that feel like it has a cultural overtone to it that basically suggests that, even though I may not have played and you did, I am smarter than you, and I know some things that you don’t know, and the numbers support me, not you. Two, you notice that, when it is a powerful job in sports—whether it is an owner, whether it is a president, whether it is a general manager, whether it is a coach—usually in football and basketball, sports that are primarily dominated by black Americans, it’s also an opportunity to funnel jobs to people by saying that, “I am smarter than you because the numbers back up what I say, and I am more read. I study more. I am able to take these numbers and manipulate my point.” It’s almost like when you hear that a player doesn’t have experience at doing X job. People that normally get the jobs you are describing don’t, either. They didn’t play at most levels, but that suffices as their “experience” and validates their opportunity for power.
Rose went on to discuss how the use of that thought process can reduce job opportunities for former players.
And one other point I want to make with that: it is laughable to me when playing experience gets equated to any other type of experience, including coaching. When you play—for example, somebody like me, who has been playing my entire life—for some strange reason that experience gets diminished when it’s time to talk about powerful positions in sports—like, He doesn’t have experience. There is no bigger experience than being in the foxhole, in the huddles, and out on the floor—being a part of the game plan and being game-planned against.
Rose has been a featured on ESPN since he left the NBA at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season. Drafted by the Nuggets with the No. 13 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, Rose went on to appear in 923 regular season contests.
In 2011, Rose opened the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in northwest Detroit, Michigan. It is an open enrollment, public charter high school. According to the mission statement, the academy focuses on leadership-driven education that leads to students achieving their college goals.
You can read Rose’s full discussion with Chotiner at The New Yorker.