Subscribe!
CourtIntelligence powered by kenpom.com

The good stuff


At other venues...
  • ESPN.com ($)
  • Deadspin
  • Slate

  • Strategy
  • Whether to foul up 3 late
  • The value of 2-for-1’s

  • Philosophy
  • Brady Heslip’s non-slump
  • The magic of negative motivation
  • A treatise on plus-minus
  • The preseason AP poll is great
  • The magic of negative motivation
  • The lack of information in close-game performance
  • Why I don’t believe in clutchness*

  • Fun stuff
  • The missing 1-point games
  • Which two teams last lost longest ago?
  • How many first-round picks will Kentucky have?
  • Prepare for the Kobe invasion
  • Predicting John Henson's free throw percentage
  • Can Derrick Williams set the three-point accuracy record?
  • Play-by-play Theater: earliest disqualification
  • Monthly Archives

  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • July 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • July 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • December 2006
  • November 2006
  • October 2006
  • September 2006
  • August 2006
  • July 2006
  • June 2006
  • May 2006
  • April 2006
  • March 2006
  • February 2006
  • January 2006
  • December 2005
  • November 2005
  • October 2005
  • September 2005
  • August 2005
  • July 2005
  • June 2005
  • May 2005
  • April 2005
  • March 2005
  • February 2005
  • January 2005
  • December 2004
  • November 2004
  • October 2004
  • September 2004
  • August 2004
  • July 2004
  • June 2004
  • May 2004
  • April 2004
  • March 2004
  • February 2004
  • January 2004
  • December 2003
  • November 2003

  • RSS feed

    Prepare for the Kobe Invasion

    by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, September 15, 2013


    There are many ways to measure one’s legacy, but in my opinion one of the best is by how many people name children after you. Shaquille O’Neal’s ultimate mark on humanity isn’t his four NBA championship rings, his two scoring titles, the critically-acclaimed rap album “Shaq Diesel”, or defeating Charles Barkley in the world’s first and only five-hole golf match. It’s the amount of college-aged kids currently named Shaquille or some derivative.

    We are in the midst of the Shaq Boom. Based on the number of college basketball players that participated in at least 10% of their team’s minutes, I have quantified that trend here.

      Year Shaqs
    0-1989   0*
      1990   1*
      1991   1*
      1992   1*
      1993   0*
      1994   0*
      1995   0*
      1996   0*
      1997   0*
      1998   0*
      1999   0*
      2000   0*
      2001   0*
      2002   0*
      2003   0*
      2004   0*
      2005   0
      2006   0
      2007   0
      2008   0
      2009   1
      2010   1
      2011   2
      2012   6
      2013  11
    

    *Figures estimated

    Marshall’s Shaquille Johnson represents the lone Shaq in ‘09 and ‘10. His bio indicates he was born on April 11, 1990. That would have been just after the completion of O’Neal’s freshman season at LSU, where the original Shaq posted nice numbers, but nothing like the historic figures he would produce in his sophomore and junior seasons. Nonetheless, it was widely considered he’d have a successful NBA career by then and Johnson’s parents were part of the earliest users of the name. The current crop of Shaqs was born later in O’Neal’s college career or in his rookie NBA season. Shaq had become a household name even among casual sports fans by then.

    But very quickly it became lame to name your kid Shaq. According to the Social Security Administration, here’s where Shaquille ranked among the most popular baby names in the U.S. by year.

    Year  Shaq Rank
    1990   >1000
    1991     720
    1992     426
    1993     181
    1994     234
    1995     458
    1996     662
    1997   >1000
    
    

    Shaq dropped out of the top 1000 in 1997, never to appear again. Based on this information, it appears the number of Shaqs should peak this season or next, and by 2019 we may be completely Shaq-free again. That will give way to the Kobe Generation, and Bryant’s first name has oddly had much more staying power.

    Kobe first appeared in the nation’s top 1000 in 1997, spanning the end of his rookie season and the beginning of his second season, and it’s stayed there every year since. The name’s popularity broadly peaked between 1998 and 2003, where all but one year was spent in the top 300. In 2012, it still ranked 506th. Parents may admire Bryant’s team loyalty or use of cutting-edge medical technology.

    We can never know those reasons for sure, but we can say that since 1997, Kobe has been the name of choice for parents opting to name their children after basketball players. (Lebron has yet to crack the top 1000.) From this we can be confident we’ll see the first-ever college basketball player named Kobe sometime in the 2016 to 2018 seasons. And while the supply of Shaqs will peter out right quick, Kobe’s name will be appearing on college basketball rosters well into the 2030’s. Kobe Bryant may have skipped college, but Kobe will be playing college basketball for many, many, many years to come.

    [Update: Turns out the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective beat me by about 16 months on this. Here was their take on the phenomenon.]