Everyone can hate Kobe now

Apart from a select few sleazeballs who admire Kobe Bryant’s philandering ways, I think everyone will hate him after the National Enquirer story this week (summarized online by Deadspin – thanks to Adrian the Canadian for the link). Apparently, Kobe has slept with 105 women — that his wife Vanessa knows about — during their 10 year marriage, which makes for 10.5 women a year. Wowsers.

I chuckled when I read Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke’s analysis in the article above. Based on his on-court scoring average in the 2002-03 season and the distribution of scoring among all players in the league, Kobe was 3.67 standard deviations above the mean (30.01 pts/game for Kobe; the league average was 7.75 with an s.d. of 6.06).

Dickey and Burke then tell us (from the Center for Disease Control) that the average level of off-court “scoring” for 20-24 year olds in the U.S. is 2.2 partners per year (s.d. = 0.2). Kobe’s average of 10.5 partners per year puts him ahead of the mean by 46.5 standard deviations. They conclude that Kobe is much more productive in his free time than he is on the court.

The problem, of course, is that 3.67 and 46.5 are apples and oranges. For his on-court work (3.67 standard deviations), we’re given Kobe’s performance against a small, selected group: NBA players. For his off-court work (46.5 s.d.’s), we have his performance against everyone his age. NBA players are likely better at scoring in both situations, so it’s misleading to switch the comparison group. It inflates Kobe’s numbers off the court. There are two ways to fix this problem.

First, let’s try adjusting the basketball scoring procedure. Instead of starting with the average points/game by NBA players, consider the average points/game among all 20-24 year olds if they played in the NBA. I think a fair guess is 1 point per game. If all 20-24 year olds played, the standard deviation would likewise be very small, say 0.5. Kobe’s 30 points per game would then be 58 s.d.’s ahead of the average, which is pretty comparable to 46.5 (his off-court advantage over all 20-24 year olds).

Second, let’s adjust the extracurricular scoring procedure. This one is tougher. I’m not sure what the mean number of partners for NBA players is, though I’m positive it’s higher than 2.2. The standard deviation could be huge due to big outliers like Kobe, the infamous Wilt Chamberlain, and Winston Bennett, to name a few. Based on NBA players’ “play ball, get laid, sleep in” motto that Elizabeth Kaye has written about, I actually think 10.5 could be normal (or too low?), putting Kobe right in line with his peers. In any case, 46.5 s.d.’s is way too high. I wouldn’t believe any number over 5 s.d.’s above the mean.

Can you imagine if Vanessa posted her debacle on shouldimoveon.com?

I’m married to an attractive, athletic celebrity who makes millions of dollars, but he sleeps with other women all the time! We have two daughters, but I still get gazillions in alimony if we break up. What should I do?

I vote 10 times for “Move On,” and finally, so did Vanessa.

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3 responses to “Everyone can hate Kobe now

  1. I think we could further refine this by better specifying the question. Are we trying to determine 1) Kobe’s ability to pick up women on the road or 2) Kobe’s ability to philander? If it’s the second question, the appropriate comparison group would be married NBA players. Presumably, even if they aren’t restrained by loyalty to their spouses, the married players are at least somewhat concerned about their antics being uncovered by the media and are, therefore, more discrete and more selective about which girls they sleep with. My guess is that single Kobe is able to do far better than even the average NBA player and sleep with far more than 10.5 girls per year. Perhaps we want some sort of interaction in there between the number of partners and the time to the spouse’s discovery. We could call this the Tiger Scale. Of course, the value of this research is both marginal and morally questionable.

    The lawyer in me also wants to note Vanessa had some pretty good legal advice. By statute in California, ten years is considered a “lengthy marriage” and greatly increases the chance that Vanessa will be entitled to alimony in order to maintain her standard of living. She should probably avoid cohabiting with someone else for a little bit, as cohabitation creates the presumption that she doesn’t need as much alimony. Similarly, it seems that the entire estate that Kobe accumulated during the marriage will be treated as “marital property” and divided between the two parties, probably equally. Stupid Kobe didn’t even have to hire a lawyer to figure this out, he could have just followed the words of Kanye West: “WE WANT PRE-NUP!/ It’s something that you need to have/ ‘Cause when she leave yo’ ass she gon’ leave with half”. Next time Kobe should do a better job of “watching the throne”.

    • Yes, good point. Married NBA guys is an even better comparison group. Kobe would be a bit more impressive in that regard. I wonder how many NBA players get divorced in similar scenarios to this, but the media just doesn’t care? Presumably, if you are below 6th or 7th in the rotation, no one cares when you get caught in your cheatin’ ways and you get divorced.

      That’s great legal background — is there are study in there on increased divorce rate just past ten years as a response to changing incentives (regression discontinuity)?

  2. Interesting stats. Glad to see your economic background being put to good use. I always thought Kobe was a pig. These NBA stars have big salaries and egos to match.

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