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Comparing Athletes/performances from Different Eras

+5 HS
Sonof'47alum's picture
January 21, 2020 at 6:41pm

I have long felt that it is very hard to compare athletes and performances from different eras.  For one thing, obviously athletes today are typically bigger and faster than those who played many years ago.

But then I started to think about Calvin Murphy, whom I had the privilege of seeing play in high school, and then I followed his career from college on (although the opportunities to actually see him play on TV were few and far between back then).

In any case, he had the sweetest shot—such pure form—and he was a terrific long-range shooter before the 3-point shot came in effect.  I’m convinced he could have been lighting it up from Steph C distance if the 3-point rule were in effect back then.

And from the foul line, he was practically automatic.

Which leads me to: is foul shooting perhaps the one thing we can make a completely fair assessment of in comparing athletes from different eras?

You’re performing the exact same task with the exact same dimensions, right? Is there anything comparable to this to measure different players over time?

I don’t know; I’m just asking.

Murphy’s career FT % in the NBA, by the way, is 89.2%, which puts him 8th on the career list.  The current career leader is, yes, Steph at 90.5%.  But I feel that in some way validates my feelings in mentioning Calvin in the same stratosphere with Steph—because FT shooting is the purest form of shooting in one sense.




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