In 2009 the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Houston Rockets in the semi-finals and the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals. Then they won the NBA Finals in Orlando.
The Los Angeles Lakers of 2020 are on the exact same path, albeit Orlando’s spot in the equation is purely location-based.
There’s two ways to digest this information.
One, Lebron James is en route to achieving his fourth championship in almost the exact same way as Kobe Bryant achieved his fourth and this is some high-end universe wink at us all. A charming ray of light in a dark, weird world for sports fans to smile about.
Two, that there’s absolutely no way it can play out so perfectly. Crazy things have a habit of poking their head in, announcing their presence, but then not staying for long. It’s like when Back To The Future Two didn’t quite nail that Cubs World Series prediction. It’s like when the Vegas Golden Knights didn’t finish the job during their magical inaugural season. See also when the New Orleans Saints fell one game shy of a Super Bowl appearance the season following Hurricane Katrina and the federal flood.
These things have a way of almost happening, simply because they are just too good to be true. Which brings me to the Denver Nuggets improbable series win over the Utah Jazz in the first round. Followed by their even more improbable win over the Clippers in the next. All that’s left is the most improbable thing: a trip to the NBA Finals. The Nuggets have been coming from behind all postseason-long and they’re about to do it again, if they even need to do that.
The lines opened with Denver at +405 to win the series. That means a $100 bettor would profit $405. Which means a $500 better would profit $2,025. I live on top of a really great burger bar in New Orleans and pay $625 a month in rent. I probably spend about $100 a month at the business below. If someone were to add that total up and put it on the Denver Nuggets to upset the Los Angeles Lakers that $725 better would go home with $2,936.25.
I’m that bettor. That’s a lot of burgers.
The flip side is that I get evicted. But there’s no flip side to this bet. Because I have more than bravery on my side. I have a universe that is often cruel, robbing sports fans of moments so ideal they feel straight out of a movie. That universe is up to something and I don’t believe it’s good.
It’s not that the Denver Nuggets are on a smooth course to the NBA Finals. It’s that the Denver Nuggets are off the beaten path without a map. Their headlamps are broken and they’re stumbling to the finish line. But they’re guided by Nicola Jokic (king of the jungle) and Jamal Murray (witty safari guide with all the answers).
There’s breadcrumbs on the trail coming back from a 3-1 deficit. I’m betting the house on Denver making it back to camp.
(Okay, maybe not a full month’s rent)
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