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Six Degrees of Kevin Garnett: How Every NBA, NFL and MLB Athlete in History Is Connected

six degrees of kevin garnett

Theoretically, everyone on Earth is connected to each other by six degrees of separation or less, meaning that through six or fewer introductions between friends of friends you could, theoretically, be introduced to anyone in the world. Applying the six degrees of separation theory to cinema, people enjoy playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a game where movie buffs try to connect through the shortest chains Kevin Bacon and other arbitrary actors. Applying this theory to sports, Ben Blatt of Slate has created the Six Degrees of Kevin Garnett, an online tool for connecting any NBA, NFL and MLB athlete in history through just a few degrees of separation.

Using data from Sports-Reference.com, Blatt built a tool for determining the shortest possible connections between over 50,000 professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey players. Two athletes are considered “connected” if they played for the same team during the same season (though Blatt admits that because of trades and injuries it’s possible that “connected” athletes never actually played together). According to Blatt, you can use his tool to connect “almost” every pair of pro athletes in North America, including over 4,000 basketball players from all NBA, BAA and ABA teams dating back to the 1940s; over 23,000 football players dating back to the 1920s and including classic NFL teams such as the Frankford Yellow Jackets; almost 18,000 baseball players from the 1870s to today; and over 7,000 hockey players from the WHA and NHL dating back to the late 1910s.

Cross-sport athletes like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson make connections between leagues possible, one of the most interesting results of the data. Blatt writes:

What’s even more remarkable is that it’s possible to connect players who didn’t even play the same sport. Cross-sport athletes like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are exceedingly rare, and some combinations of sports are hardly seen at all. Of these 18 athletes, all but one—Bud Grant—played baseball as one of his two pro careers, proving either that the stars of the diamond are athletic enough to master other sports or that anyone athletic enough to play basketball or football can also handle baseball. Hockey is the opposite, as there has never been a pro hockey player who also played top-level basketball, football, or baseball. As a result, hockey is a closed system. But once you get off the ice, it’s possible to link every pro baseball, basketball, and football star.”

An example of one such link possible through cross-sport athletes is using the MLB to link Tom Brady of the NFL and Kevin Garnett of the NBA:

Tom Brady played on the 2000 New England Patriots with …
Chad Eaton, who played on the 2004 Dallas Cowboys with …
Drew Henson, who played on the 2002 New York Yankees with …
Raul Mondesi, who played on the 2002 Toronto Blue Jays with …
Mark Hendrickson, who played on the 1998-99 New Jersey Nets with…
Mark Davis, who played on the 1995-96 Minnesota Timberwolves with …
Kevin Garnett

Try the tool out for yourself at Slate, and leave us a comment to let us know who you connected.

via FlowingData

   
 
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