For the writers and hardcore NBA fans out there, numbers really do matter.
We are all guilty of pouring over box scores in an attempt to decode the game, and uncover a twist in the tale.
However, much of the time, this endeavour can be like pulling teeth. The further one dives into the numbers the quicker the tabs multiply. Much like the multi-headed Hydra, one tab closes and countless more emerge in its place – it could be genuinely chaotic.
For Australian web developer and NBA enthusiast Glenn McComb, this mess needed to be fixed. He saw the widespread criticism of ill-designed box scores on social media. People were starving for a more streamlined approach to the traditional stat sheet. American NBA writer, Kevin Arnowitz even tweeted that he’d send chocolate brownies to whoever could help solve the crisis.
McComb saw it as his basketball duty to step up to the plate, and harness the skills of his trade to fix the problem.
“I just wanted to see everything that was going on at once,” McComb said.
“At the time there wasn’t really a way of doing that.”
McComb’s solution was to give ESPN’s statistical coverage a face-lift. He created a free Google Chrome extension that put everything on one screen; every player’s stats, advanced team stats, shot charts, play-by-play and more. It was a much-needed ergonomic upgrade.
“At the time, ESPN was hiding all the bench players, you had to expand to see who was on the bench. It was really dysfunctional,” he said.
“[ESPN] actually have most of what you need to know, it’s just not very well organised. So I started off just changing the appearance of the page, and then a couple of people got me on to the idea of adding additional stats to the page.”
McComb’s extension launched in October 2016, and it immediately received encouraging feedback, including from some high profile media figures.
“It’s appreciated by fans and people in the media from the NBA, in terms of being able to follow things,” he said.
“I know David Locke, who does the radio call for the Utah Jazz, uses it a fair bit, just to have advanced stats during the game.”
Legendary NBA gambler, and current Director of Quantitative Research and Development for the Dallas Mavericks, Haralabos Voulgaris, is also a fan.
Since its release, the extension has gone from strength to strength. McComb constantly tinkers with his labour of love, to ensure the experience is as smooth as possible. As of the writing of this article, it has nearly 8,900 users.
For McComb, the project was simply rooted in a love for the game and a desire for a more complete experience – the praise and positive feedback was just an added bonus.
“I wanted a better experience for myself… It’s been pretty overwhelming that people have been as interested as they have.”
For the basketball geeks out there, it is a blessing.
Click here to download the free Google Chrome extension.