Predicting sporting events is not easy, as our friends at Freezing Cold Takes can attest. Even the best-laid projections will make you look foolish from time to time.
Forecasting a championship event like the NBA Finals is particularly tough, because, in theory, both teams are elite and the smallest injury or lucky bounce can swing a series. Even the best basketball minds in the world can’t be expected to get their NBA Finals predictions right every year or even most years.
So maybe we should be too harsh on Stephen A. Smith for picking the NBA Finals wrong every year since 2011, as chronicled in this video:
Stephen A. Smith has gotten every Finals prediction since 2011 wrong. pic.twitter.com/xUYfcfXaYV
— 4 More Wins. (@LeKingJames23) May 26, 2017
But the randomness of sporting events is exactly why Stephen A.’s streak of futility is so crazy. He has a roughly 50-50 shot at picking right every time, and he still picks wrong again and again.
We know Stephen A. isn’t just trolling because even if he wanted to pick the Finals wrong every year, it’d be nearly impossible. In order to intentionally pick wrong, you’d have to know what was right.
Let’s do some basic math. If the Finals were a 50-50 proposition, you’d have only a 1.6 percent chance (.5^6) at picking them right (or wrong) for six straight years. Those are pretty long odds.
Of course, the Finals aren’t truly a toss-up, as one team is almost always favored. So let’s say the underdog has, on average, a 45 percent chance of winning in any given year. You’d still have only a 2.8 percent chance (.55^6) of picking wrong for six straight years, even if you picked the underdog every year.
Now let’s say the underdog has only a 40 percent chance of winning. You’ve now got a 4.7 percent chance (.6^6) of being wrong for six straight years.
For argument’s sake, say the underdog a 30 percent chance (which is far too low, given that the NBA Finals just about always features two great teams). You’ve still got only an 11.8 percent chance (.7^6 ) of being wrong for six straight years.
Again, that’s if you were trying to be wrong.
If you just picked the favorite every year, you’d have something like a 97 percent chance (.45^6) at getting at least one right over the course of six years.
And yet Stephen A. Smith is wrong again and again and again. It’s incredible.
Stephen A. picked the Cavaliers to win the title back in March, so it’s fair to assume he’ll pick them to beat Golden State. But until he officially makes his pick, both teams will wait anxiously to see who gets the Kiss of Death.