by Ben Blatt
Of all the crazy things Ron Artest/Metta World Peace has done, one of the most notable is admitting to drinking during halftime up until the end of his 2002 season on the Bulls. Sure Gatorade may be the drink of choice for most athletes, but maybe that’s not for performance reasons. After all, can you imagine how expensive it would be to dump a 10-gallon container of Hennessey Cognac on a coach’s head after a victory?1
While drinking during a game may be a sign of larger issues for Artest, at HSAC we are only qualified to examine one portion of his admission: did Artest’s practice of pre-gaming the second half of the game have an impact on his performance?
To check we looked at an isolated part of his game: free throw percentage. Sure enough during the 2001 and 2002 seasons his free-throw percentage during the third quarter was 67.21% compared to 72.33% that he shot in all other quarters in our dataset. Below is a graph illustrating this decline via segment of the game:
As you can see, in the 5th and 6th segments, which correspond to the third quarter, Artest’s free throw percentage was significantly lower.
After conducting a Fisher’s Exact test it turns out the dip in performance was statistically significant at the .05 level. No other quarter split in the 2001-2002 seasons data (years with drinking) or in the 2003-2004 data (years without drinking) was low enough to be a statistically significant dip. In fact, all other quarters he averaged above at least a 72% free-throw percentage with one exception: the first quarter in the 2001-2002 seasons in which he averaged 67.47%. While not significant, it makes one think that if he drank in the locker room before coming out for the third he did the same in the locker room before coming out for the first. That being said, there is no way to prove that any dip in free-throw percentage is the result of alcohol consumption or not.
Below is a chart of various Ron Artest free-throw percentage splits. Note that although Artest’s first quarter percentage in 2001-2002 was only 67.46%, he took many less attempts which is partly why this result was not statistically significant.
Ben Blatt can be contacted at email@example.com.