Sunday, December 20, 2009


The 1984-85 season was the pilot for Pat Riley's "Career Best Effort" project. The Lakers coach recorded data from basic categories on the stat sheet, applied a plus or a minus to each column, and then divided the total by minutes played. He calculated a rating for each player and asked them to improve their output by at least 1 percent over the course of the season. If they succeeded, it become a CBE, or Career Best Effort. For Kareem and Magic, it was a significant challenge because they were already operating at such a high level.

"But if the other 12 players did it, we felt we had a chance to win it all," Riley said.

Riley's system was simplistic, but it was how the coach manipulated the data that made it so effective. He routinely recorded the performances of every NBA player and highlighted the success rates of Bird and Michael Jordan in particular. Solid, reliable players generally rated a scored in the 600s, while elite players scored at least 800. Magic who submitted 138 triple-doubles in his career, often scored 1,000. Riley trumpeted the top performers in the league in bold lettering on the blackboard each week and measured them against the corresponding players on his own team.

Some players ignored Riley's transparent motivational ploy, but not Magic. He became preoccupied with generating the highest score -- not just on the Lakers but in the NBA.
From "When the Game was Ours," by Jackie MacMullen