This is “Freq” a.k.a “Frequency Vibrations”.

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He’s a native of Harlem, born to two hard-working American parents and an amazingly awesome fraternal twin sister. After a superstar reputation in both high school and college, Freq was drafted to the NBA.

Google Images

As you can see in the photos, the descriptions are a bit hard to reconcile. First of all, that’s my MyPlayer on NBA2k16 (obviously). I’m Chinese-Filipino, and though I’ve been mistaken for a pure Chinese, Japanese, even Korean, a native of Harlem is the last thing people will think of when they see me.

Yet, this is the story I’m presented with. These are the visuals I have to immerse myself in whenever I load up NBA2K16 on my PS4.

Is there a MAJOR problem with it? Nope.

Is it a game-breaking bug? Nope.

Does it take away from the overall feel of the game? Not really.

Oddly enough, in any other medium, seeing something contrary to what it is described and purported to be would raise people’s eyebrows through the roof.

Imagine Gandalf pulling out an AK-47 to mow down Sauron’s army of orcs, or Philosopher’s Stone Harry Potter being played by 31-year-old Tom Welling for some reason. You might go as far as to tear your hair out at the lapse in logic, yet the same was done for Freq and the most you’d hear from anyone is, “Huh, that’s funny.”

It’s all because of our brains and their ability to fill in the gaps and cope with what we call, “cognitive dissonance.”

Cognitive dissonance is a state wherein something presented to you clashes or disagrees with your beliefs, either dogmatic or experiential.

Whenever we see or hear something that “doesn’t make sense,” alarm bells go off in our brains telling us that something is wrong. It prompts us to take a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth look until we are satisfied.

Satisfied with what?

Satisfied with an answer.

Humans don’t like to feel bad. Cognitive dissonance makes us feel bad. In order to stop this bad feeling, we as humans cope intellectually.

For example, when an offensive juggernaut of a team suddenly finds itself in a rut and struggles to score against a squad that well, let’s just say, “hasn’t been competitive in a while,” people can’t help but struggle with that aforementioned cognitive dissonance.

Or try this one for size: “How does one of the most stacked teams in the PBA struggle against a team often chided as ‘kangkong’?”

Here is where our brilliant and amazing brains come into play. We search for reasons, explanations, anything to help make us feel better about the conflict in belief and the outcome of events.

So, people start checking injury lists. Did “X” play? Was “X” injured?

But then they find nothing there, so they continue trying to explain it away.

This starts the search for yet another explanation, which conveniently happens to be, “Sagip Kapamilya.”

But then, looking at how the former team just blasted another team also under their corporate umbrella, that argument is again rejected.

This search for answers goes on, and on, and on, until it eventually hits the Pinoy reason for every sports anomaly, locally and internationally, “na-mafia.”

A lot of people, surprisingly enough, are content with such an answer.

Steph Curry misses game winning wide-open corner three, “na mafia”.

Alaska drops four games in a row after winning the first three, “na mafia”.

Adamson gets beaten twice, blowing a twice-to-beat advantage, “na mafia”.

Sacramento Kings lose to Lakers in 2002 Conference Finals, “na maf-“ wait, something fishy did actually go on there.

But you get the point.

One shouldn’t just be content with such a baseless conclusion though, when there’s a wealth of data available, and this is where statistical analysis comes in.

Basketball stats have been around for decades. Box scores have been compiled going way back to when newspapers began covering sports on a regular basis. Many have used these references as reliable tools to explain game-to-game phenomena, but now we know that they’re actually very narrow and limited.

Tools like the advanced stats of HumbleBola, as well as shot charts, player ratings, team ratings, and the like, are freely accessible tools that provide more perspective on the same data that box scores gather.

Using this data, there’s no more reason to say that Team A was “na-mafia” when it turns out that Team B has one of the best defensive ratings, or the amount of points conceded per 100 possessions, in the PBA.

When we take in media and interpret data, there will be holes, there will be instances of cognitive dissonance. But getting through these is just a matter of filling in the holes.

Sometimes the simplest plugs work. Remembering that NBA2K16 is a Spike Lee joint and that 2K sports probably didn’t want to shell out to create graphics for each and every possible skin tone allows us to happily enjoy the pains of the complexity of making it in the NBA but with made-up player.

But most of the time, the holes go deeper than we think and plugging it needs more leg work. Cheating on those plugs results in not actually learning anything and, well, nothing, period.

Recognizing these instances and improving how we respond to them can provide better insight. Cheating the thought process only stops the discussion and perpetuates easy so-called “answers.”

Except for that Kings versus Lakers bit.