In 2000, Mr. Barr and Nils B. Lahr, a former Microsoft engineer, started Synergy Sports Technology in Phoenix, to bring together for N.B.A. coaches fine-grained statistics matched with associated video clips. Want to stop Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks? Synergyâs system has recorded every offensive step Mr. Nowitzki has made since he joined the league in 1998. Synergy has captured, for example, how successful he is driving right, or left, differentiating between home and away games, and further slicing and dicing into sub-sub-sub-categories. Click on any statistic and you can get video clips from the last three seasons of 20, or 50, or even 2,000 plays that show Nowitzki making that particular move.
Four teams signed up for Synergyâs beta service in the 2004-05 season. Mark Cuban, the owner of one of those intrepid first teams, the Dallas Mavericks, liked what he saw and became Synergyâs primary outside investor. When the service was formally rolled out for the 2005-06 season, the two teams that reached the finals happened to be the Mavericks and the Miami Heat, another Synergy client.
Most teams, however, did not jump to subscribe, and Mr. Barr groped for the most effective way of describing the value of his service to general managers. When he tried the phrase âitâs Google for basketball,â one manager excitedly said, âNow thatâs something I can take to my owner.â