Go Ahead, Compare Apples to Oranges.

Just as a disclaimer, I am not a sports fan – never have been. I suppose I was born without the gene that compels one to root for your favorite team or watch sporting events. Even now, when I watch events such as Pride FC, UFC, the X-Games, Olympic weightlifting events, etc., I watch them to see technique, or to learn something, or to compare and contrast performances based on trainng routines. So the subject of this posting is not something near and dear to my heart.


I realize that in any given sport, there are outstanding individuals or teams. Any given person may have their favorites. For example, I greatly enjoy boxing’s featherweight superstar Manny Pacquiao and his fights. However, could he have beaten a true great of the sport, such as Willie Pep? Can one even make such an apples-to-oranges comparison?

You hear arguments like this all the time:

“When Jordan was with the Bulls, they were unstoppable.”
“Oh yeah, I bet the ’72 Lakers could’ve beaten them.”
“No way!!!”

And so on and so forth.

Well, now there’s a clever way to “settle the scores” impartially, thanks to mathematics and a clever little matrix devised by the guys at What IF Sports – a website that allows you to create matchups between any teams in their database, from recent lineups (2004-2005 season) to the greats of yesteryear. They’ve got an easy-to-navigate site and a well-designed interface.
Their current options are limited to baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, but with the inevitable torrent of web traffic they’ll be getting soon enough, more sports may be added.

Just for fun, I simulated an NBA game between the ’04-’05 Knicks and the legendary ’96-’97 Bulls. Final score: Bulls 105 – Knicks 73.

Hmm. I’m surprised it was even that close. I think the program needs some tweaking.

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