A recent NBA wager makes this writer remember the 1996 basketball movie Celtic Pride.
In the film, the protagonists, diehard Boston Celtics fans played by Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern, kidnap a player on the Utah Jazz (portrayed by Damon Wayans) so their team can win. Thankfully, it’s all comedy, not some banal dark thriller. Were this movie made today, it would probably involve gambling, right? Alas, there’s no sports betting in Celtic Pride.
On Sept. 9, an analyst with BetMGM online sportsbook reported that an anonymous person wagered $10,000 on the Lakers to miss the playoffs at +1600 odds. That’s despite the team adding Russell Westbrook and some savvy veteran role players to its LeBron James-Anthony Davis core this offseason. Los Angeles’ over/under win total is 53.5 and its odds to win the NBA championship are at +400, which trails only the Brooklyn Nets at +230. So, yeah, the Lakers are expected to be very good this coming season, to the point where some people on Twitter equated the $10,000 futures bet to lighting money on fire.
Lakers odds to miss the playoffs have moved from +1600 to +1400.
— John Ewing 🦁 (@johnewing) September 9, 2021
But maybe the person who made the bet has some plan, à la Celtic Pride? We’re only kidding … or are we? If you made the bet and are reading this, please don’t kidnap one or more of the team’s Big Three. This probably wouldn’t even work, unless you’re willing to host LeBron in your house or apartment for months. This bet wasn’t on a single series, but for the whole season.
Also, a $160,000 payout? That doesn’t seem worth it to kidnap one or more of the team’s key players, but, again, the fans in Celtic Pride did it for free. (Man, does Celtic Pride feel outdated in the post-PASPA era.)
Is the bettor banking on injuries?
In all seriousness, the wager is definitely banking on injuries for one of the oldest teams in the league. That is possible, but is a +1600 price point good value? It seems hard to say it is, but BetMGM did lower the odds to +1400 after the bet. Apparently BetMGM doesn’t want too much liability on this outcome, but maybe it also thinks people will pay +1400. Or maybe BetMGM is worried about a Celtic Pride scenario. Only kidding.
It’s worth noting that the odds on the Lakers to make the playoffs are -5000.
Someone bet 10K on the lakers to miss the playoffs . They must be banking on injury vibes like '19
— ZayDuel 💰 (@280ZAYZB) September 10, 2021
Someone bet $10,000 on the Lakers to miss the playoffs??? waste of money
— Knickstape Shmurda (@daley_shmurda) September 9, 2021
In the bet’s defense, the playoff format might be what the bettor is in large part banking on. As SI.com put it: “With the play-in tournament, the 7th and 8th seeds in each conference is not guaranteed a playoff spot, which makes this scenario ever the more possible. If the Lakers don’t play up to expectations and end up at the bottom of the playoff bracket, they could very well play in this single elimination type of tournament and find themselves outside looking in.”
Based on the reactions of other fans, that appears to be a generous interpretation of the bet. Ultimately, who knows? If the bet wins, I’ll retract every joke I just made.
Here’s an interesting theory that could be true: The bettor here is a billionaire. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert? That’s what one person on Twitter thought. That would be quite the spiteful wager after all these years.
Image credit: Celtic Pride, Caravan Pictures