Why baseball stats matter so much more than basketball stats

In his latest column, which is mostly about how certain NBA players are defying the aging process, Bill Simmons theorizes why stats are so much more important to baseball fans than they are to basketball fans.

For whatever reason, basketball fans don’t care about career NBA numbers like baseball fans care about baseball numbers. I see four reasons for this: (1) baseball has been around almost twice as long as basketball; (2) baseball’s signature threshold numbers are famously identifiable (500, 3,000 and 300), as are the players who broke its major records, whereas your average sports fan would struggle to answer questions like “Who leads the NBA in career scoring?”; (3) statistics matter more in baseball because it’s an individual sport; and (4) we need to throw ourselves into baseball statistics because the sport itself is so f—— boring. If we were eating lunch and I told you, “Johnny Damon has 2,571 hits right now,” that would mean something to you. If you’re a true baseball fan, you would process that information in 0.008 seconds and think, “He needs 429 for 3,000, that’s doable!” But if I told you “Dirk Nowitzki has 21,925 points right now,” you wouldn’t think anything other than, “That’s a lot.”

I agree with all four points. The only basketball stats I really care about are per game or season stats and that’s because I play fantasy hoops. It doesn’t really matter who is the league’s all-time leading scorer or who has dished out the most assists. The number of championships (Kobe potentially passing Michael Jordan in rings) is one that is important to a lot of NBA fans.

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