BAR HARBOR — “The Undisputed Guide To Pro Basketball History,” a new book co-authored by Bar Harbor native Jesse Einhorn, plays like a soundtrack of squeaking sneakers and swishing hoops. It delivers expert statistical analysis on pressing issues like the impact of hair length on an NBA player’s scoring capacity, and what Allen Iverson would wear as a paper doll.
The book is a follow up to FreeDarko’s (a famed basketball blogging collective) first work, The Macrophenominal Pro Basketball Almanac. Both books are wholly underscored by the statistical analysis superpowers of Mr. Einhorn.
“This whole project has a weird creation myth,” Einhorn said. “FreeDarko started as a blog. Four of my friends and I played fantasy basketball together and got into the habit of leaving long, cerebral, rambling posts about our teams’ statistics on a message board. After a year or so we started to have a following, much to our surprise.”
“I guess you could call it a cult readership. It never broke more than 500 or 600 people reading it in a day,” Mr. Einhorn said. “But that was still 500 or 600 people.”
Both books were authored by the blog members writing under names that they’d chosen for themselves as fantasy basketball players: Bethlehem Shoals is the moniker of Nathaniel Friedman. Big Baby Belafonte is Jacob Weinstein, Brown Recluse Esq., is Todd Ito, Dr. Lawyer Indian Chief is Adam Waytz, and Silverbird 5,000 is Einhorn.
“All of us decided after the success of the first book that we should do another one and we started working on it last summer,” Einhorn said. “It took about seven or eight months to write.”
Einhorn’s contribution to the book is its backbone, statistical analysis. He admits that he is amused by the process of collecting data and delivering it in the artful way.
“It’s more interesting than just a list of numbers,” he said. “I am studying sociology in graduate school, and it has a quantitative angle.”
He attributes the popularity of the books to a rising interest in advanced sports statistics.
“I am interested in funny, quirky, aesthetic statistics,” Mr. Einhorn said. “They don’t necessarily provide any earth-shattering information, but they can be really, really interesting.”
“One way we gathered historical data was to look at hundreds and hundreds of basketball cards,” Mr. Einhorn said. “We realized that there was a situation in the ’70s when afros and mullets and shags were appearing, there was also an increase in scoring… Surprisingly, we found a correlation between flashier hair, flashier play, and scoring statistics.”
“Basically, this hair project is good evidence of the challenge we had of coming up with new forms of data.”
This interest that Mr. Einhorn has in intricate, specialized basketball data does not translate onto the court. He played basketball with the Conners-Emerson School in Bar Harbor, but that’s as far as he got.
“I grew up very strongly attached to the New York Nicks, but more recently I’ve found myself rooting for Celtics. I love Rajon Rondo, everyone I know loves Rondo. He’s such an amazing, cool, funny, interesting player. He’s a total weirdo … I think he’s truly a fascinating character.”
And Einhorn can’t help rooting for his alma mater, the Mount Desert Island High School boys’ basketball team as they advance their season undefeated with a record of 6-0.
“Really, the Trojans don’t seem to need any help from the book,” he said. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to jinx them. They seem to be doing all right just the way they are.”
According to Einhorn, the FreeDarko team isn’t planning another book yet. They are hoping to take a break from publishing and resume their usual role as best friends.
Einhorn currently lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is working on his doctoral thesis at Yale University.