June 21, 2016
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, or so the saying goes.
But over the last six years, ESPN's foremost spewer of blindly hot takes, Stephen A. Smith, hasn't had much luck locating said nuts, at least when it comes to the NBA Finals. In fact, the "First Take" host and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist incorrectly predicted each of the last six (6!) Finals series.
And thanks to the internet, there's proof.
• 2011: In the first year of the Big Three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), Stephen A. took the Heat to beat Dirk and the Mavericks. Dallas won in six.
• 2012: Perhaps Stephen A. was learning from his mistakes or, more likely, was still holding a grudge after they made him look like a fool a year earlier, but there was no way he was taking the Heat again. Naturally, they won in five.
• 2013: After two years of being proven wrong by the Heat in two completely different ways, Stephen A. must have been livid. Irate. Apoplectic. Therefore, he went with the Spurs, who were a few seconds from beating the Heat in six games before Ray Allen happened. Miami won in seven. Infuriated, indignant and incensed.
• 2014: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time and, well, can I hop on your bandwagon? After two years picking against LeBron and the Heat in the Finals, Stephen A. returned to where this whole thing started and picked Miami to win. The Spurs absolutely demolished the Heat in five games.
• 2015: With LeBron back in Cleveland, our still-nutless blind squirrel thought a change of scenery and a renewed passion to win one for his hometown would make James unstoppable. Apparently, he learned nothing from the early struggles of the Big Three in Miami and thought, for some reason, this time around would be different. Nope. They lost in six to the Warriors.
• 2016: LeBron did it to Stephen A. again. He couldn't bring himself to pick the Cavs, especially since it was a rematch against the same Warriors team that beat them a year earlier and just put together the greatest regular season of all time. And with the Dubs up 3-1, he could almost smell the nuts. This had to be the year. No team had ever come back from down 3-1 in the NBA...
It's hard to believe he could be so spectacularly wrong for so many years in a row. To be fair, I think sports predictions are fairly meaningless and are anything but easy.
In this case, however, you're picking between two teams. Two. That's a 50-50 chance. Even if he was to pick one of the team's name from a hat each year, the odds of getting all six wrong is 1/64. And that's before you consider that he's supposed to be an "expert" on basketball.
It's almost hard to be that wrong.
But I have a feeling he'll keep making bold predictions until he finds some nuts.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin