The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have announced that Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin will be performing at the 91st annual National Christmas Tree Lighting.Additionally, The Avett Brothers, Grammy award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, acclaimed soprano and musical ambassador Renée Fleming, multicultural operatic trio Forte, and Nolan Williams, Jr. and Voices of Inspiration will join singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe, Latin music superstar Prince Royce, jazz legend Arturo Sandoval and the multiplatinum, Grammy-winning band Train in performing a collection of holiday favorites.The 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place Friday, December 6 on the Ellipse at President’s Park in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will kick off the holiday season in our nation’s capital and can be viewed online LIVE at www.thenationaltree.org beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET with the exclusive National Christmas Tree Lighting pre-show. This year, folk Americana duo Aberdeen Green, singer/songwriter Del Travar, and The U.S. Army Blues will perform in the pre-show co-hosted by 94.7 FRESH FM’s Tommy McFLY and ABC7/WJLA-TV’s Jummy Olabanji. The event can also be seen on public television throughout December. Broadcast times can be found by checking local listings or visiting www.thenationaltree.org.Presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, and produced by Bounce AEG, the National Christmas Tree Lighting is the first event in a four-week holiday celebration in President’s Park. This year’s ceremony marks the 91st annual National Christmas Tree Lighting, an American holiday tradition started by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923.For the sixth consecutive year, UL is the premier sponsor of the National Christmas Tree Lighting. As an independent safety science company, UL’s mission is to promote safe working and living environments for all people. More information can be found at www.UL.com. Other event supporters include GE Lighting, Amtrak, Guest Services Inc., Hargrove, Hilton Garden Inn – Washington DC Downtown, Hudler Carolina Tree Farms, Loews Madison Hotel Washington D.C., Mesh Int’l, Nicolas Holiday, Uber, United and Willard InterContinental Washington D.C.More information about the 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting can be found at www.thenationaltree.org and on Twitter.Source:PR Newswire
The popular narrative for the NBA Finals that just concluded is pretty straightforward: The San Antonio Spurs “play basketball the way it’s supposed to be played,” and they beat the star-studded Miami Heat in what Zach Lowe called “the triumph of the NBA’s beautiful game.” The Spurs’ offense whipped the ball around, and Miami couldn’t handle such a multifaceted attack. The Heat, on the other hand, were forced to rely on what is increasingly becoming their Big One. LeBron James was epic throughout the playoffs and had an MVP-quality performance in the finals, but the top-heavy Heat collapsed under their own weight.A variety of statistics back up this description of the difference between the two teams, if not the normative judgment. For example, the Spurs had nine different players take four or more field goal attempts per game throughout the playoffs, compared to just six for Miami. More advanced statistics show something similar.One stat we can use to see how much offensive responsibilities are being spread around is “usage rate,” which estimates the percentage of a team’s possessions that were “used” by a particular player. Possessions are “used” by making field goal attempts, getting fouled or turning the ball over. Players such as James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony typically “use” a lot of possessions because they handle the ball a lot, take a lot of shots and play a lot of minutes. And because there are only so many possessions to go around, one player’s high usage rate means fewer scoring opportunities for his teammates. Teams like the Spurs, however, spread the ball around more, and more players get significant minutes, so they have a more flat distribution of possessions used.Here’s a look at how top-heavy NBA teams were in 2014, with the Spurs and Heat singled out:The x-axis on this graph is a player’s rank in a team’s usage rate, and the y-axis is the difference between the number of possessions that player used per game and the number used by the player with the highest rate. The lower the line, the more evenly a team distributes its chances across its players.Depending on how deep down the roster you look, the Heat are between the second- and fourth-most top-heavy team, while the Spurs are one of the most balanced. So that backs up the narrative.On the other hand, spreading the ball around isn’t easy, and it’s not the normal path to victory in the NBA. The most top-heavy team (and the top line on the chart) is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had the second-best record in basketball and did better against this Spurs team than Miami did. The most evenly distributed team overall was the Brooklyn Nets, who did make the playoffs but lost in five games to the Heat.The Spurs won a lot more than we would expect for a team as balanced as they are. The 15 teams with the largest gaps between their top player and their eighth player (by possessions used per game) won 57.5 percent of their games, while the 15 with the smallest gaps won 42.5 percent (the Spurs were second-lowest).Of course, not all sharing is created equal: Sometimes a team has a more equitable distribution of possessions because it has a lot of talent and it needs to incorporate it all. Sometimes it does it because it has very little talent and doesn’t have anyone it can consistently rely on. Likewise, being top-heavy can be a result of having an overly ambitious shooter on a team, or it can just be that a team has a great player doing his job.