I’ve been on the fence about deflategate ever since I heard it mentioned the first time on Monday morning. Can a ball that’s been deflated to such a small extent that it’s practically unnoticeable to the players using it really be an advantage somehow? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself constantly all week while being unable to focus on anything else. Thankfully Shaquille O’Neal, formerly of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and current analyst and scientist for TNT, conducted a controlled experiment where he put this very question to the test.
O’Neal shot six free throws total, three with a regulation ball and three with a ball that had been deflated. With the regulation ball, he made one of three free throws. With the deflated ball, he missed all three. Granted his experiment is a small sample size, but until we have further data to prove otherwise, I think it’s safe to say that using a deflated ball would provide no advantage whatsoever in an actual real-life application.
Thank you, Shaquille O’Neal and science.