2002: LeBron James and Stephen Curry

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LeBron James and Stephen Curry
The 538TR attempts to capture a player's combined skill at basketball (either real-life or NBA 2K18) and election forecasting.
Title text: The 538TR attempts to capture a player's combined skill at basketball (either real-life or NBA 2K18) and election forecasting.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a Basketball - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

At the time of this comic, the 2018 NBA Finals were going on, between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. At first glance, the comic looks like an in-depth analysis of two of the star players on those teams, LeBron James and Stephen Curry. The joke is that while comprehensive, all the statistics are completely meaningless - many don't show any correlation, and if there is one, it's extremely unlikely there is any causal link in there.

The first graph includes a nine-digit Social Security number issued for US citizens which is typically not considered a metric related to athletic ability. As Social Security numbers are essentially random numbers, the graph shows only the free-throw percentage of a large number of players, artificially spread vertically.

The second graph is a graph of points per game vs teammate's APGAR score. APGAR score is used to quickly summarize the health of newborn children, with scores of 7 and above indicating an infant has generally normal health. This graph indicates LeBron's teammates have an APGAR score of approximately 2.1. Scores of 3 and below are generally regarded as critically low and possibly requiring medical attention. Low APGAR scores can also be associated with increased risk of neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy. The joke appears to be that LeBron is a star player carrying a sub average team while their opponents the Warriors are perhaps a more well rounded team.

The shot map shows from what position Curry's shots were scored compared to other NBA players. It shows that he scored several times from outside the playing field, including twice from the bleachers (which isn't a legal play), and once from the locker room (which is physically impossible due to multiple walls in between). This may be a reference to Curry's "tunnel-shot", which he performs before every home game.[1]

In the "2018 total points" table, the highlighted Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers represent the teams of Stephen Curry and LeBron James respectively.

Magnetic north is the north pole of the earth's magnetic field. Certain animals use the magnetic field to navigate and align themselves (including migratory birds, bees, and foxes), but there is no evidence that humans are affected by the earth's magnetic field. This means that there is very likely no correlation between orientation of a basketball court and points scored.

The table at the bottom includes more unrelated comparisons.

The first fact is "have you heard of him". Although both are well known in their native United States, elsewhere basketball is considered a minority sport. So of the 7 billion people in the world it is likely less than 2% of the total population will have heard of either player [citation needed].

In NBA the top 16 teams qualify for a single elimination play-off to determine the season champion, with each rubber played over 7 games. After the fourth game fixtures are only played as required. Most fixtures are therefore resolved before the last leg. Lebron James has participated in seven playoff games 7 in his career (winning 5 of 7), and the last time his team lost a game seven was on May 18, 2008 (Bush was still President). This also highlights that James is an older athlete yet has been fairly dominant through his career. Stephen Curry's last game 7 loss actually came at the hands of Lebron James in the 2016 NBA Finals (Obama was President). It is notable that both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers won their respective games 7 in their conference finals to make it to this year's NBA finals.

Both "lebronjames" and "stephencurry" are worth 22 points in Scrabble. Pogs were a fad in the 1990s. In 2027, Stephen Curry will be 39 years old, which is a typical retirement age for NBA players. LeBron James's retirement age is listed as unknown. This may refer to James's high level of play through his mid-30s, when typical players have a decline in their performance [citation needed].

It is claimed that their best sport is basketball. However, although they have chosen basketball as a career, this does not mean they were not better at a sport that does not offer a professional career.

Both are listed as over 6 feet tall which is not at all unusual for professional basketball players. In fact, Stephen is listed as 6'2" or 6'3" and LeBron as 6'8".

Nate Silver is a political commentator and founder of the website FiveThirtyEight, which uses and promotes statistical approaches in explaining the world. The site's two major areas of focus are in politics (especially on elections - it became famous for correctly predicting for whom 49 of 50 of the 2008 and every US state would vote for in the 2012 US presidential elections, and though it wasn't as accurate in 2016 it had given Donald Trump a larger chance of Electoral College victory than other mainstream media sources) and sports (Silver first got into statistical analysis via baseball). The presence of both sports-related and politics-related topics in the comic, however related they are (or not) with each other, seems to be a nod towards FiveThirtyEight's content.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
NBA Playoffs DataDive
LeBron James and Stephen Curry
What makes these superstars so extraordinary?
[The comic consists of several plots and tables, listed here in western reading order.]
Scatter plot of Social Security number vs Free throw percentage
The Social Security numbers range from 000-00-0000 to 999-99-9999. No pattern discrenable, aside from points being a bit denser in the middle of the plot. Steven Curry is marked as a point on the right edge of the plot with a high free throw percentage.
Scatter plot of 2018 points per game vs Average teammate APGAR score
The APGAR scores range from 0 to 10. Pattern suggests a somewhat positive link between the two factors. LeBron James is marked as having a lot of points, but a low teammate APGAR score of approximately 2.1.
Shot map
A map of a basketball field is shown with dots placed where players have taken shots at the goal. Steven Curry has dots in a separate color. For the all players category the dots generally cluster next to the goal basket and in front of the three point line. Steven has no dots next to the basket, but does cluster next to the three point line. He also has several dots off the side of the playing field, including three in the bleachers and one in the locker room.
Sandwiches eaten during play vs Win %
A plot that suggests no relation between the factors because practically all dots are in the zero sandwiches column. 2018 Warriors have one dot marked as a high win % and 4 sandwiches.
2018 total points
A table listing teams and their total scores with an extra column labeled "When net is within 15° of magnetic north". The row for the Cleveland Cavaliers is highlighted and shows an abnormally high score in the magnetic north column.
2018 total points Overall When net is within 15° of magnetic north
Golden State Warriors 9304 330
Houston Rockets 9213 268
New Orleans Pelicans 9161 219
Toronto Raptors 9156 341
Cleveland Cavaliers 9091 1644
Denver Nuggets 9020 280
[A table at the bottom:]
Stephen Curry LeBron James
Have you heard of him Probably Yes
President during most recent game 7 loss Obama Bush
Pog collection Large Staggeringly large
Career average Fed interest rate 3.42% 4.41%
Name Scrabble score 22 22
Best sport Basketball Basketball
Height Over 6' Over 6'
Retirement year 2027 Unknown Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight total rating
(devised by Nate Silver to combine all metrics into a single stat)
37.4 31.8 86.6


This comic was posted the day after the second game in the 2018 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry's team) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James' team). It is the fourth consecutive time the two teams faced each other at the finals, which is unprecedented in major sports leagues in North America. The Warriors won in 2015 and 2017, the Cavaliers won in 2016, and the Warriors are leading the current series 2-0.

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I have no idea what this is about, but wondered if Stephen Curry was related to the Curry twins Tom and Ben, who are both over 6' - or to Tim, who isn't except in heels. Arachrah (talk) 07:53, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Both LeBron James and Stephen Curry are famous NBA players. 08:46, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
How would you not know that? And even if you don't know who they are, you must have at least heard about them before, right? Herobrine (talk) 09:21, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
Not everyone is from USA. 09:41, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
That excuse could work, except your IP address is based in the USA :) Zachweix (talk) 12:01, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
So is mine right now, but that doesn't mean I'm from here, and they didn't make us memorise every NBA player on the plane. (Hey cool, this IP has edited here before too) 15:36, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
Basketball is the second most popular sport in the world [Citation needed], so it is safe to assume a large portion of the internet people know LeBron and Curry even if it is only by memes. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
According to Wikipedia Sport page, cricket is the second most popular sport in the world. Basketball is number 7. 05:15, 2 June 2019 (UTC)
I like Curry. You know, the dish. And the actor. Tim, that is. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:58, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Not everyone in the USA follows sports. I've heard of LeBron James, but only in passing. The only Curry I know of is a fictional one from some old movie. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Nate Silver

Nate Silver is famous for his numerical approach and extensive use of statistics and simulations. He foresaw a probability of 28.6% for Donald to win the electoral college just before the election. That is a greater chance than most political commentators would have granted Donald. Typical betting sites saw Hillary 5:1 ahead at the evening of the election. So I would not at all say that he got everything wrong in 2016. He predicted that Hillary would be a formidable number of votes ahead as most probable outcome, but also that many states would be very tight. [[2]]. Sebastian -- 09:21, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Definitions needed

Hi! Could definitions be added for some of the terms used, such as "bleachers"? Thanks! 11:30, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

really?[[3]] 14:07, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
Glad someone said it before I did. 20:43, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
IDK, "bleachers" is a pretty basic word from the English language... Okay, somewhat sports-centric - it means the array of seats around a sporting event, where the audience sits (and as such would be out of bounds in this case, outside of the valid playing area) - but still. NiceGuy1 (talk) 02:34, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
Note that when you ask google to "define bleachers", google includes the fact that it's a "NORTH AMERICAN" term. So no, it's not a "pretty basic word from the English language", it's a "pretty basic word from the North American English language". I'm not sure what's worse: someone who doesn't think to use google when they don't know a word, or someone who thinks that everyone in the world should know all the words they use in their country. 03:39, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, you're very wrong in your analysis here, your outrage is inappropriately misplaced. There is absolutely NOTHING about the word "bleachers" or the concept for any of us to suspect it might be a term unique to North America. There is no reason me or any other North American might check if it's a term not used elsewhere. This SHOULD be a worldwide term, there's nothing North-America-centric about the concept. Honestly, it just makes me wonder what the hell England and other English speaking countries use. I have to think Cricket and football (what we call soccer) matches and whatever other sporting events occur must have audiences on occasion, where do they sit? And in Harry Potter, both the books and movies, all Quidditch matches - including the World Championship - are surrounded by bleachers (if raised high), the items certainly exist! I guess they weren't referred to as "bleachers", I just didn't notice the absence of the word. And allow me to bounce your outrage right back at you. Most North Americans - in my experience - are quite aware of British terms not used here - lift for what we call elevators, flat for what we call apartments, football for what we call soccer, to name a few - why can't people from other cultures show ours the same respect? I think this might be the first North American term I've heard of, that isn't attached to local products! (Well, second, after "soccer"). I knew there were British words not used here, this is the first I hear that the reverse was true too. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:42, 12 June 2018 (UTC)
I am not a native English speaker, but at school we generally learned more of a british English. Also from time to time tune I in to English football (aka soccer) matches, which are naturally broadcasted in British English. I think in British English they usually refer to the place where the crowd is as (the) stands. And regarding the "analysis" you claim is wrong, it was you in the first place who said it was basic, apperantly as a native speaker of American English and without of research, so I'd tend to argue against you, if you wouldn't have started the statement with "idk", exactly saying that this is a statement based on your gut-feeling about the word, instead of giving definite knowledge. And regarding that one specific comment: Thanks for reminding me that I always procastrinate in reading the Harry Potter series in its original language :D My book pile of shame is bigger than the one in my steam-library. --Lupo (talk) 10:01, 16 January 2020 (UTC)
I thought "bleachers" was a US-term for _outdoor_ seating, with the name coming from being bleached by the Sun. Even if we ignore the fact that they're then the things being bleached rather than the bleachER (maybe the bleachees?), wouldn't that mean that an indoor basketball court wouldn't have bleachers? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Magnetic North

I would have liked the "magnetic north" thing to be due to the geographical orientation of the teams home courts (if the Cavaliers are the only team to have a court that happens to be roughly north-south oriented, it would explain the higher points value). Looking at the Stupid Name Arena, however, it appears that the court inside is probably about NW-SE. Too bad. Chrullrich (talk) 14:15, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

It is probably referencing how Lebron-led teams always make quick work of the perennially promising Toronto Raptors teams that call themselves "the North". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I was thinking that might be a reference to the Cleveland Cavaliers playing their home games at a slightly high latitude than the (San Fransico-based) Golden State Warriors. (However, they are nearly at the same latitude, and neither is anywhere near 75 degrees North) JamesCurran (talk) 19:24, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

when I read “when net is within 15° of magnetic north” I assumed it meat games played where the arena was inside the circle with a radius of 15° latitude centered on magnetic north, which I’m guessing would include a few (or at least 1) arenas, perhaps in Canada (since magnetic north is somewhere in north eastern Canada). Do American basketball teams play Canadian teams in Canada like they do ice hockey and baseball teams? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yes, they do. As of the 2017-2018 NBA season, there was one team located in Canada, the Toronto Raptors. List of National Basketball Association arenas Each team plays all other teams at least twice each season, once at home and once away. Some teams play each other more than that, depending on Division and Conference. How many times does one team in the NBA play another in a regular season? These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:37, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
SSN to Free Throw%

Would it be too much of a stretch to add in the fact that Stephen Curry's point is highlighted on the chart, as a nod to the fact that (the majority of) one's SSN can actually be determined if one knows details about personal information such as where one was born? 16:08, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Not anymore. My three kids were all born in the same hospital -- same wing; rooms only meters apart -- but have TOTALLY different SSN's. (No, I'm not sharing them as proof!) We even asked the local SS office what happened and they said they're starting to reuse numbers at random. I think it's not "reuse" as much as "reallocate", but either way the strict geographical basis is no longer valid. --BigMal // 16:31, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
Originally, the first three digits indicated the office where the person requested an SSN. It didn't really signify anything. It was just that each office was given on a block of numbers to assign, and that block all started with the same three digits. Since in the early days of Social Security, a person got theirs, not at birth, but when they first got a job, it was more of an indication of where they happened to be living then, rather than where they were born. By the 60s, SSN assignment had been centralized, but they still tried to maintain the regional number, based on the zip code of the person requesting an SSN. Apparently, they have more recently realized that's just a waste of time and just started issuing them sequentially. JamesCurran (talk) 19:17, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
New method started in 2011, so until around 2029 we'll be able to use the "SSN to FT% in NBA" metric, and have it tie to location at time of SSN generation. 21:37, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Does anyone know what the "sandwiches" graph is a reference to? I don't believe I have heard anything about the Warriors and a love for sandwiches. 17:03, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

Maybe this? [[4]] 17:23, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
More on SSN to Free Throw%

I did a quick digitization of the SSN /FT% graph, and the Steph Curry point is at about FT% = 92.5% and SSN ~ 300-XX-XXXX, which corresponds to his 2018 ft% of 92.1% (from wikipedia) and his birthplace of Ohio having a SSN in the range of 268-302 https://www.ssofficelocation.com/social-security-number-prefix . Even if SSN prefixes are random now, they probably weren't when he was born 30 years ago, so it is probably safe to conclude that the location of the point is deliberate. Acflip (talk) 19:01, 4 June 2018 (UTC)

They changed in 2011 to random generation. I doubt there's any 7 year old NBA players, so until 2029 we'll be able to use this -ahem- metric. 21:34, 4 June 2018 (UTC)
On the pog collection

Is it possible that the "pog collection" also refers to the player's collection of Player of the Game awards? Lebron James would surely have a staggering amount of it, and Steph Curry would have considerably less, since Steph Curry has a lot of other good teammates. Skybreak (talk) 07:58, 5 June 2018 (UTC)Skybreak

Best Sport

Lets be real here. The odds of them being better at a sport then basketball are basically nill. Unless you use an unusual definition of "sport" or "better". 14:07, 5 June 2018 (UTC)

Shot Map

It may be a reference to the tunnel shot, but it's more likely just a joke about Steph Curry's unusual range for field goals. He's well known for making 3-point shots from much farther out than the average the NBA player. Hasown (talk) 14:57, 5 June 2018 (UTC)

Thinking about it further, the map doesn't even show any shots from the tunnel, and the tunnel's placement is inaccurate as well. The tunnels to the locker rooms are in the corners of the court, not directly behind the hoop. There are always bleachers behind the hoop for fans to sit. Hasown (talk) 15:03, 5 June 2018 (UTC)

Jimmy Kimmel made a similar joke on TV last night, saying that Curry made a 3-pointer from the parking lot. Should Randall sue? Barmar (talk) 16:11, 5 June 2018 (UTC)

"correctly predicting for whom 49 of 50 of the 2008 and every US state would vote for in the 2012", this line is rather mangled, but I'm not sure how to fix it (dunno this guy, dunno if his predictions were thus accurate for 2008, 2012, or both, etc). Also, I must thoroughly agree with Randall about people hearing of them. As a non-sports fan from North America, I've heard LeBron referenced elsewhere (like TV shows) many, many times, but I feel like I've never heard of the other guy. NiceGuy1 (talk) 02:45, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

Google is honoring the inventor of the Apgar score, Doctor Virginia Apgar, today. 19:46, 7 June 2018 (UTC)

Have You Heard of Him

With over 800 million fans worldwide [5] it's very unlikely that fewer than 140 million people (2% of the population) have heard of this era's dominant player.Harris (talk) 10:10, 10 June 2018 (UTC)