Kenny Smith Fails His Own Test

On TNT’s NBA halftime show, Kenny Smith embarked on the rather questionable task of distinguishing between “stars” and “superstars.” The latter players, he argued, always push their teams above .500 — i.e., ensure a winning record. Hence Allen Iverson and Jason Kidd join household names like Shaq and Kobe.

One problem: the Sixers and the Nets, who are led by Iverson and Kidd, are below .500. Indeed, New Jersey is holding up the caboose in the Atlantic Division while sporting an unenviable mark of 12 wins and 23 losses.

I thought of cutting Smith some slack because the Sixers and the Nets are perennial contenders in a weak conference (even with their atrocious record, the Nets are only five games behind the first-place Knicks). But, when challenged by fellow analyst Charles Barkley, Smith kept pointing at the .500 criterion to justify the placement of Kobe, who’s helped his Lakers retain more wins than losses despite moving Shaq, on his list. That stubborness forced me to withdraw my generosity.

Here’s to better sports analysis….

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. bryan says:

    Well, I think you’d also need to wait until the whole season is over to make a comparison. Of course, the NBA is filled with marginal “superstars.”

  2. Eric says:

    I don’t really blame anyone for being confused by this NBA season. After all, the Wizards have a better record than the Lakers.

  3. I don’t either, Eric, but it’s really a matter of analytical consistency, in my opinion. If you’re going to insist on applying a certain criterion, then you ought to stick to it.