David R. Henderson  

Incentives Work in the NBA Too

William J. Baumol, RIP... Don't target unemployment...

Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg objected to how Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics regularly carries the ball and gets away with it. Check out from about 2:40 on in this video.

I hadn't realized how extreme it was until I watched this video,

The narrator makes a mistake, though, at the end. He says (at about the 5:30 point):

Will the referees listen to Fred Hoiberg's complaints and call a carry on one of the most exciting and dynamic players in the NBA? Could it possibly justify changing the way they've called the game for decades in order to enforce a rule as old as the game itself? Of course, these are problematic, and players are gaining more and more of an advantage every year that goes by. But this is also an entertainment industry and the fans don't watch the games to hear the shrill whistle of stopped play.

It's true that if the refs started calling Thomas and others for carrying the ball, there would be a few games in which the shrill whistles blew much more frequently. But if they consistently called it, then, after a few games, the shrill whistles would not be much more than now because players would adjust.

Incentives affect behavior, even in the NBA.

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CATEGORIES: Incentives

COMMENTS (5 to date)
mm writes:

way too late- Michael Jordan walked on many of his slam-dunks but the optics where too good

Thomas Hutcheson writes:
Instead of targeting unemployment (or the output gap) and then ignoring what it tells you when the NGDP growth rate conflicts with it, why not just target NGDP growth?
There is an alternative: target the price level as the "price stability" part of the dual mandate and be willing to accept levels below or above target according to "unemployment" levels. By that standard the Fed needs to goose inflation up for several quarters until prices are back on target. With current unemployment levels there would be no need to allow price levels to go above target. I agree with Fischer that this kind of rule would need to be applied with discretion in interpreting when "unemployment" should be allowed to keep the Price level in the above target zone and when to stop goosing based on lags between instrument changes and Price level outcomes.

Given how resistent the Fed seems to PL targeting I'd agree that if -- ex hypothesis -- NGDP targeting could be adopted, that would be a bid improvement on the current inflation ceiling approach.

Thomas Hutcheson writes:

Sorry posted on the wrong thread :(

John Fembup writes:

David, surely you do not imagine that the NBA referees' whistle-blowing (or lack of it) is a spontaneous, independent result of their own judgment?

Even back in the 60's when I played in high school and college (Div III) my coaches told our teams - enjoy the NBA games, but don't try to imitate the players - you can't, and besides the refs won't let you.

David R. Henderson writes:

@john Fembup,
David, surely you do not imagine that the NBA referees' whistle-blowing (or lack of it) is a spontaneous, independent result of their own judgment?
You’re right. I don’t. My point doesn’t depend on that.
Oh, and don’t call me Shirley. :-)

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