The New York Times wrote this about the Rockets' General Manager,
Morey, the rookie general manager of the Houston Rockets, is a wizard in the field of quantitative analysis, a friend of Billy Beane’s and a “Moneyball” true believer. He is the N.B.A.’s highest-ranking stat savant, the first mathematical magician to run a team.
Although all this is probably true, it misses what I think is the more important point about Daryl's success.
I met Daryl about 12 years ago. At the time, he was a recent college grad fascinated by oddly obscure ideas like self adaptive complexity. We clicked (there are not too many people who share interests in systems dynamics or find the ideas behind them stimulating) and since then I've followed his career with an odd mix of pride and amazement. The reporters frequently comment on his great mind, but Daryl is simply a likeable and delightful person.
Before sitting in Fenway Park watching the Red Sox with Daryl, I fancied myself a baseball fan. Listening to Daryl casually debunk various "myths" of baseball and support his claims with data, I realized that I was not really a baseball fan: I had odd bits of knowledge and interest in the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants. I realized that Daryl's most off-handed comment carried more weight than anything I had thought about for years.
Daryl is not just adept at analyzing data and determining what it means. He lets the data take him where it will - whether that is to the most obvious or most counter-intuitive conclusion. He does not just do this with sports data. He has done this with his life. I don't think that I've ever met a person who seems less concerned with tradition - that of others or even his own. Daryl accepts what the data says and is willing to test plausible theories - in any domain. Years ago, he put me on his "board of advisors," a move that amused and flattered me and has come to mean even more as his career continues to thrive. (That he would name me to such a position is proof that he's not just comfortable with data but is comfortable with odd ideas.)
Daryl did not play basketball in college, much less the NBA. His father does not own a team nor work as a famous sports analyst. Daryl’s career has not just risen with amazing celerity - he has done it on his own merit. I rather doubt that his high school friends would have pegged him as "most likely to be an NBA GM by 35."
There is a great deal I admire about Daryl. Perhaps what makes him most unique is not his ability with numbers and statistics but his willingness to accept the reality those numbers represent. Analysis can be taught. I’m not sure that Daryl’s willingness to change in response to the analysis can be taught and it is that – more than the actual analysis – that seems to me the truly extraordinary thing about his life, his career and his performance.
And Daryl – congratulations on the winning streak. You may just want to tell reporters that you’ve tried winning and tried losing and you just can’t see any advantage to losing or even one good reason to lose again.