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Braess’s Paradox in the NBA

Braess’s Paradox states that adding extra capacity to a network when the moving entities selfishly choose their route can reduce the overall efficiency of the network. The reason why has to do with Nash Equilibrium. In Nash Equilibrium, drivers will have no reason to switch routes; however, in a system not in Nash Equilibrium, drivers (assuming everyone is going to do what is in their best interest without consideration for other drivers) will change to the route they believe to be the fastest.


Braess’s Paradox has many parallels to a theory in sports known as “The Ewing Theory.” The Ewing Theory states that a team will perform better if they lose their star player. More specifically, if one player is used significantly more than the other members of the team, the team is not maximizing its potential. When the star player is removed, efficiency goes up. Just as we saw in Seoul, South Korea when a speeding up in traffic occurred as a result of the removal of a major highway. And, just as we saw in 1990 when overall congestion in midtown Manhattan decreased by shutting down 42nd street.


I think the Ewing Theory was somewhat of an anomaly. For example, lets look at Michael Jordan and LeBron James, two first ballot hall of famers. Would the Bulls have won 6 championships without Michael Jordan? Would the Cavaliers have won 60 games each season without LeBron? Absolutely not. When Jordan left the Bulls in 91-92 the team made it only to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. When LeBron left the Cavs to join the Heat, the Cavs won the least games in the NBA.




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