And he draws the foul: Mark Cuban’s Take

Freakonomics’ co-writer, Stephen J. Dubner, published an interesting 2-part interview with Mark Cuban where Cuban gave his take on the flagrant foul flopping we see in today’s NBA:

Mark Cuban on Flopping, the Salary Cap, and the True Secret to Success

Q: Do you think that flopping to draw fouls is becoming a problem in the NBA?

A: Yes. We handle it backwards. We reward the defender who falls down. Instead, proof of being in position to defend should be the result of the defender who is able to stay on his feet. It’s rare in football that a defender is pancaked with a block, yet every time there is contact with a ball handler [in the NBA], defenders act like they have been pancaked by Orlando Pace. Instead we should reward staying on your feet as a reflection that the defender has beaten the ball handler to a spot on the court.

Frankly, it’s nowhere near as bad in the NBA as it is in professional soccer, but Cuban’s point is valid. If you truly have position, you should be able to hold your ground.

Herd Mentality with Bus Riding

Stephen Dubner has figured out an interesting strategy for improving his bus commuting across Manhattan with his daughter:

Herd Mentality? The Freakonomics of Boarding a Bus

So a while ago, we started walking a block west to catch the bus at what we’ll call Point B. Point B is perhaps 250 yards west of — that is, further from our East Side destination — than Point A. But at Point B, the lines are considerably shorter, and the buses arrive less crowded. At Point B, we have a 90% chance of getting aboard the first bus that arrives, and perhaps a 40% chance of getting a seat. To me, this seems well worth the effort and time of walking 250 yards.

I’ve seen similar issues with buses falling behind schedule. The further they fall behind schedule, the more passengers they end up carrying since some of the passengers would have missed the bus had it run on time. As the bus becomes more crowded, I believe it falls even further behind schedule. At rush hour times where buses are coming, say, every 10 minutes, the next bus on the route can actually catch and overtake the laggard. This happens from time to time with the 21 on Lake St or the 12 on Hennepin.

It cracks me up when two buses driving the same route are running back to back with the first one STUFFED with passengers and the next one basically empty. People STILL try to get onto the first bus. Perhaps they think they’ll get to their destination 2 seconds earlier and that’s worth the discomfort?