The Performance of Ersan Ilyasova and Sweet Disposition: A Study

Perhaps you've heard the famous song "Sweet Disposition", by The Temper Trap. It's been featured in many popular movies, perhaps most famously (500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel. If not, below is your chance to listen.

The song is hauntingly effective for many reasons, but perhaps most of all it is due to the song's fantastic ending: the repetition of one of the most famous lines, "Don't Stop, Ilyasovaaaaa!" You can hear this section at the 3:18 mark of the above video. This is a brilliant piece of song writing: the intended meaning of the song stays hidden throughout, until Temper Trap singer Dougy Mandagi makes it clear that the previous 3 minutes of heartfelt vocal emotion were for a call to action to Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova. Mandagi asks, nay, demands Ilyasova to continue on his fight to become great at the game of basketball with his exquisite "Don't Stop Ilyasova" mantra.

Given the popularity of the song, there is no doubt that Ilyasova is aware of Mr. Mandagi's message. Anyone can be inspired through the power of music, however, a song as ubiquitous as Sweet Disposition certainly could have pushed Ersan Ilyasova to new heights. To test this hypothesis, and as a scientist, I performed a study.

Hypothesis: Ersan Ilyasova's performance is likely positively impacted by the influence of Sweet Disposition, by The Temper Trap.

Method: Luckily, valuable statistics for both Ersan Ilyasova's performance and the popularity of Sweet Disposition are readily available on the Internet. With regards to the popularity of Sweet Disposition, I used Google Trends to find the number of searches for the phrase "sweet disposition" for every week since 2009. Google puts the number of searches on a relative index from 0 to 100.

Then, using, I found the weekly performance of Ersan Ilyasova, as measured in the most basic of game stats, points per game. While other statistics have been shown to be more reflective of positive player impact, points per game does display some basic level of performance, as well as likely being positively influenced by confidence (the more confident Mr. Ilyasova is, the more likely he is to take shots). It also has the benefit of being ubiquitous, and incredibly easy to understand for even the most casual of fans.




Pearson r correlation coefficient: -0.28627

Conclusion: In the end, a small negative correlation was found between the popularity of Sweet Disposition and Ersan Ilyasova's performance (as measured in PPG average). There are several explanations for such a result, some of which are proposed below:

  1. Is Ilyasova became more confident due to the rise in popularity of Sweet Disposition, his need to impress others through scoring many points in each game decreased.
  2. Ilyasova's performance actually lagged behind the popularity of Sweet Disposition, i,e., there was some time delay between when Sweet Disposition became popular and Ilyasova's awareness to said popularity.
  3. Ilyasova enjoyed Sweet Disposition so much, especially the line "Don't Stop Ilyasovaaaa", that it negatively impacted his practice time, thus leading to poor on-court performance.
  4. Some other lurking variable is behind Ilyasova's PPG average.

More research may be necessary to investigate this relationship further. While the hypothesis was not verified, this study opens the doors for future research to fill gaps in our knowledge related to Ersan Ilyasova and Sweet Disposition.

Andy Larsen is a featured writer on, the SB Nation blog for the Utah Jazz. You can find him on Twitter at @andyblarsen.

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