When the Knicks announced the “orange-out” via email today I immediately recalled @artrondeau on Twitter hinting that such a movement would adversely affect jump shooters I anticipated that Art would do a post on it on his excellent blog “Game Time at the Garden of Good and Evil“. The post is copied below. Have at it.
“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. That famous quote popped into my head this morning when I heard that the Knicks are trying to arrange an “Orange Out” for game 3 of their series against the Boston Celtics at MSG on Friday night. While I wholeheartedly agree with their desire to unite the fans, the good intention that could lead to a “Hell” of a game 3 is that a sea of orange will most likely have a negative impact on shooting percentages.
A jump shooter normally takes just a small fraction of a second to see the orange rim, determine the distance, and begin moving his body to shoot the ball. Part of determining the distance is from the contrast from what’s in the background. An orange rim and a background of orange shirts will make depth perception more difficult in that split second.
This should only be a problem for jump shooters and free throw shooters. Anyone shooting from about 8 feet in won’t have that same difficulty. Advantage Boston.
Two historical examples to back up my contention: first, in this year’s NCAA Final Four, the games were played in a football stadium, meaning that distances for some of the background was very different from what players are used to. In the three games played, only Connecticut in their Final Four game shot over 40%. The 3 other Final Four teams shot in the 30s. And as great a defensive battle as the Championship game was, no Finals team (Butler) shoots and misses that many open shots without something other than the opponent impacting the result.
Second, for you baseball fans, the reason that there is an ear flap on batting helmets is because in the late 1960s there wasn’t one. Red Sox outfielder Tony Conigliaro almost died after being hit in the eye with a fastball. When Tony C made a comeback (with a new helmet with an ear flap), the Red Sox created “Conigliaro’s Corner” in the stands just inside the right field foul pole at Fenway Park. Fans who sat there were asked not to wear white because Tony’s vision was damaged enough by that fastball that he couldn’t pick up the pitch in time if he had to pick it up out of a sea of white shirts. Once the fans started wearing clothes that contrasted with the color of the ball, Tony started to hit again.
If the Knicks want to unite the fans AND win game 3, a Blue Out is the better way to go. If they stick with an Orange Out, the road to Hell could very well end at Madison Square Garden.