One Last NBA Point
Blog reader Peter Bergman tells me that John Hollinger has an interesting analysis of the NBA racial bias piece at ESPN.com, although you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing. I haven’t actually read it because I’m not a subscriber, but Hollinger apparently does a nice job of putting the magnitude of the bias into perspective: The coefficient estimates imply that if LeBron James faced only white refs the whole season relative to having only black refs the whole season, he would be expected to run up an extra 11 or 12 fouls over the course of the season and score about .3 fewer points per game. These results are derived from Table 5 of the original paper.
These are not very big numbers. Table 7 of the original paper, which focuses on team level outcomes instead of individual level measures, seems to generate much bigger effects, but is also much less precisely estimated. Most of the discussion in the original paper of magnitudes is based on the larger numbers in Table 7. My advice to Price and Wolfers would be to be cautious on this point. My guess is that the individual level results in Table 5 are more believable and will be more robust than the larger numbers they rely on in doing their analysis.