2018 NBA Finals – Impact on LeBron’s Legacy
A call option. A call option on absolute greatness. That’s what the 2018 NBA Finals are to LeBron James and his legacy.
To clarify, a call option is a financial security where the investor pays an upfront premium for the right to receive unlimited upside potential without any downside risk. For example, let’s say JR Smith purchases a call option on the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index for $5. If the price of the Index goes up, JR makes money. If the price decreases, JR loses nothing besides the initial $5.
People love to debate the true identity of the GOAT – is it Michael Jordan or is it LeBron James? While the general consensus currently trends towards Jordan, the 2018 NBA Finals are LeBron’s best opportunity to become the unanimous GOAT. If he can somehow pull off a miraculous victory against the Warriors, he will be the clear-cut choice for the top spot in basketball royalty.
This opportunity was created by the stark difference in the two Finals teams. On one hand you have the Warriors, a squad that tied the 1986-87 Lakers for the highest offensive rating in NBA history last year. A squad that won 73 games to set the NBA regular season record…before they signed Kevin Durant. A squad that now features two MVP caliber players, a three time All-Star and reigning defensive player of the year, and another all time great shooter.
On the other hand you have the polar opposite in the Cavs. You have JR Smith, who classically JR Smith’d away LeBron’s magnificent Game 1 performance. You have Jordan Clarkson, a point guard who went over 100 minutes without an assist. You have… well you have the Cavs. Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker John Murray noted that the Cavs are currently at 30-1 odds to become the 2018-2019 champs. If LeBron leaves this summer, that number plummets to around 500-1. That’s just how bad this Cavs team is without LeBron.
None. LeBron isn’t supposed to win this series. He isn’t supposed to come close. Entering the 2018 Finals, the Warriors were -1,200 to win, the most lopsided odds in at least the past 13 years. Said another way, you would have to bet $1,200 on the Warriors to win $100.
Look at how much of a favorite the Warriors were at the beginning of the series – their odds of winning was more than double any previous favorite (San Antonio in 2007-2008 and LA Lakers in 2004-2005). Those odds have ballooned to -2,200 after the first two games.
Another point of reference is that some sportsbooks have the odds of Bryan Colangelo getting fired at -450. I don’t see any way that Colangelo can hold onto his job after this whole Twitter scandal, even if he is able to pin it on his wife. Yet the Warriors’ initial odds of winning the Finals were almost three times as high.
Side note: the anonymous source that tipped off the Ringer used data analytics and artificial intelligence to piece together Colangelo’s burner accounts. Data analytics and artificial intelligence… hmm doesn’t the “anonymous source” sound a bit like Sam Hinkie himself?
The Additional Upside
You know that scene at the end of the Dark Knight Rises where Anne Hathaway begs Batman to save himself and leave with her?
Hathaway: “You don’t owe these people anymore, you’ve given them everything.”
Batman (in Batman voice): “Not everything…not yet.”
This is pretty much LeBron’s postseason in a nutshell - he’s done everything he possibly could have to drag this bunch of knuckleheads to the Finals. After this postseason, no one can blame him for riding off into the sunset to live a happy life in Italy with Catwoman. Just substitute Houston/Los Angeles/Philadelphia for Italy and James Harden/Paul George/Joel Embiid for Hathaway.
When the Call Option Expires
It’s pretty much just a formality that the Warriors will win and LeBron’s call option will expire worthless. However, to me at least, this postseason has already proven that LeBron is the GOAT. Game 1 was a perfect example that shows just how great LeBron has to be every single night for this team to have a chance. I honestly don’t think that Jordan could have taken this team to the Finals, and I for sure know that he would have punched JR Smith in the face right then and there.
People of course have their own opinions, and some will hate LeBron regardless. They’ll cite the Decision, his Finals record, and his receding hairline as to reasons why. But I urge these people to put aside their personal bias and appreciate LeBron while they still can. He is truly a once-in-a-generation player, a talent that we likely will never see again in our lifetime. He’ll be gone before we know it, and it’d be a shame not to have enjoyed his time.