Notes on the NBA finals
Steph, having caught the gaze of a teammate, raises his hand in the air to say “my bad”—attribution of blame, like saying “I’ll pick up this check.” The structure of gesture accompanies taking credit.
A well-balanced basketball team is a system of complementary heuristics—two guards, two forwards, a center.
Teams are groups of individuals whose fortunes are aligned.
What is a probability here? How often a “type” of event occurs, in the wake of another type of event, given a specific “type” of context.
A player goes up for a layup, and is blocked. He and his defender fall onto the court. Both are at the end of the court, and the rest of the two teams’ players have begun running back to the opposite side. The defender gets up first and jumps over the fallen offensive player. The fallen offensive player puts his hands up above his head as the defender jumps over, and the defender falls to the floor again. A technical foul is called for endangering the defender in possible injury. A coach uses a challenge, and the referees review footage of the play. During replay, the commentators cannot decide where the intent was. “I can see the argument where he was just protecting his head from a guy jumping over him.” “And from where I stand I can say, hey, you tripped me.” How could there be a right answer here that is not in the realm of ethics? In the realm of ought? How could there be an ontological “fact” about where the responsibility lies?
In ball sports and video games, we say someone made a “read” of the situation. In that vein, it seems true to say that the other players actions have “written” to the reader, whether they “intended” or not.
“Intention” is an abstraction over determining whether the action “is” or “isn’t” a reliable part of the organism’s pattern, in the way that the action is taken as, to anticipate its future occurrence. In this sense, an “accident,” a logistical or implementation mistake, byproduct effects, and cues are all of the same class. What is this class except about (1) regularity and (2) assigning blame and regulating and managing future interaction?
In other words, if I tell you everything that happened externally, what is missing?
There is a divide in officiating culture between “by the book” and “considering the full context of the game and the penalties and the consequences.” If a player has a technical, and a second small technical-worthy even happens, is it worth ejecting him, even though the rule is two technical worthy fouls lead to an ejection? And should the situation be different if it is a playoff game? If it is a deciding game in a playoff? These rules (objects, categories, heuristics) are constructions of the referees, and there isn’t a right answer about how they ought to enforce it, there are only the effects that the letter and the letter’s enforcement have on player behavior, whether it’s incentivizing or disincentivizing, whether it’s providing a predictable or unpredictable structure of reward, what is trying to be maximized in the game and equilibria, etc.
“Can’t decide if Warriors dominant or if Celtics trash”: what would this distinction mean except with some comparison to a notion of average replacement, or expected performance? The question of blame: like asking whether a failure to read a prescription is the result of sloppy handwriting by the doc, or poor deciphering by the pharmacist. And the “average replacement” of basketball concept is similar to a standard of “reasonable personhood” in U.S. courts.
We have a sense that shapes the feeling that filters what is said and what is not said, and the “feeling” that causes aversion or attraction, that leads an utterance to be selected or censored, underlies the subconscious strategizing.