The Smallest Loser

By Marcus Shockley

Miami Heat’s LeBron James (C) goes up to shoot between Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki (L) of Germany and Tyson Chandler (R) during the second half in Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, May 31, 2011. REUTERS/POOL/David J. Phillip (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

            
            

When it comes to trying to predict the winners in any sport, it’s not just random numbers, despite what XKCD may claim. Trends in sports are often more reliable than trends in the stock market, and one of those trends is that perpetual runners-up rarely get over the hump.

That is to say, losers consistently lose. The Buffalo Bills are the most cited example of this, a team that was good enough to get to the Super Bowl four times but not good enough to win it. The reality is that the Bills were good enough to win a Super Bowl, but for whatever reason, most likely mental, they could not close the deal. This trend holds true in all sports, although not always as clear cut as the Bills, and of course there are exceptions.

That brings us to this year’s NBA Finals. The reality is that the Finals are loaded with runners-up. Lebron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd are all players who have tasted the championship only to see it slip away. Chris Bosh has never been on a real contender. In fact, the only real winner in the group is Dwyane Wade, who teamed up with Shaq for Miami’s lone title run. You could also add in Pat Riley and the Miami Heat organization if you are looking for some kind of added leverage.

So when predicting this NBA Finals, you have a team with a ton of experience and drive in the Mavericks, versus a team loaded with scoring talent. On paper, it gives Miami a slight edge simply because of Wade and Riley. This is a chance for one of the two groups of losers to land on the winning side, and only time will tell who is able to buck their own history.

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