Stephen A. Smith is the LeBron James of getting NBA Finals predictions wrong.
NBA Reddit user _Papasmurf_ pointed out a stunning streak for ESPN’s First Take star, who sees himself as an NBA expert: He’s been wrong about the NBA Finals for six consecutive years.
And this year, as Mashable points out, he picked the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Golden State Warriors early and has stuck with them all season.
The weird part is the streak matches with LeBron’s run of making the Finals. So perhaps his block directly ties to the greatest player of this generation. (We have to assume he got his 2007 NBA Finals prediction correct because then-three-time champ Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs were everyone‘s pick against 22-year-old James’ Cleveland Cavaliers Cavaliers.)
Still, it’s easy to imagine — note: He may have made different arguments — the narrative logic Smith used in his Finals picks:
• In 2011, he picked the Miami Heat over the Dallas Mavericks because the Big 3 seemed unbeatable.
• In 2012, he picked the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Heat because he’d watched LeBron struggle on the biggest stage the year before.
• In 2013, he picked the San Antonio Spurs over the Heat because they’re the Spurs and had a 4-0 record in Finals entering this series. (This is probably the hardest prediction to wrap our heads around.)
• In 2014, he picked the Heat over the Spurs because that’s what happened the previous year.
• In 2015, he picked the Cavaliers because the Warriors hadn’t been there.
• In 2016, he picked the Warriors because they won the previous year and only got better.
• In 2017, he’s picking the Cavaliers because they won the previous year and only got better.
If you try to make NBA Finals predictions based on the previous NBA Finals, you’re going to be wrong a lot. That’s not to say the Cavs won’t beat the Warriors. But the Warriors’ changes this season were specifically geared to address their failures last year, so holding last year’s collapse against them seems specious.