The Washington Post

Odds that LeBron James could topple Republican Convention in Cleveland

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The balance of power will shift in the NBA once LeBron James decides where he is going to play for the 2014-15 season and beyond. But teams that miss out might not be the only causality of Decision 2.0 — the Republican Party also has skin in the game. Namely, the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The hiccup comes in the competing schedules of the NBA and RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Because of complicated campaign finance laws, Priebus has decided that the Republican presidential contender should be formally nominated far earlier than in recent elections, when the conventions were held around Labor Day weekend. Instead, Priebus wants a June convention, which would allow the nominee to begin tapping an account of campaign cash that can only be spent for the general election.

Any team James chooses instantly becomes a title contender, and with James’s track record of making an appearance in five of the last eight NBA Finals — including four straight with the Miami Heat — it stands to reason that if he chooses the Cavs, then the GOP may have to move on to Plan B.

But what’s the likelihood the Republicans need to find another venue for their 2016 nominating convention?

According to the oddsmakers at, Cleveland becomes a 6-to-1 shot at winning the 2015 NBA championship if James decides to return home.  Those are implied odds of 14.3 percent. But with a young backcourt full of promise in Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins and three first round draft picks which can be used to acquire even more talent, the Cavs could be poised for more than one championship run.

“[The Cavaliers] are such a young team,”  Las Vegas Superbook assistant manager and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told “They would be better positioned for the next season than this upcoming one.”

Depending on the outcome of the 2014-15 season, we could see Vegas bookmakers set a Cleveland team led by James as either the favorite (5-to-1 odds or an implied probability of 16.7 percent) to a top-five contender (10-to-1 odds or an implied probability of 9.1 percent) for the 2016 NBA championship, which would conflict directly with the the Republican National Convention. For comparison, the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs are currently 6-to-1 odds to repeat despite keeping almost their entire team intact.

The irony here is that Dallas lost out on the 2016 GOP festivities because they were unable to accommodate a convention in June.

“We knew we could do it well in July,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. “We would not be able to put on a first-class convention in June.”

There is a 9.1 to 16.7 percent chance the Republican’s first choice, Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, can’t either.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.



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Neil Greenberg · July 8, 2014