The Beauty of Sports Gambling

“Just as I was getting ready to eat something great, it was taken away. Thrown directly in the toilet, because it’s an easier route to the end goal.”

This is a real Yelp review for a restaurant. Well, it’s real in that it was posted on Yelp, but it’s not real in that it was certainly posted by a troll. This review was posted in July 2016 for Kevin Durant’s restaurant in Oklahoma City. Those who follow the NBA understand and are laughing at the review. Let me explain.

Kevin Durant played for the Oklahoma City Thunder for seven seasons. During his time there he won the league’s Most Valuable Player award and took them to the finals, but he never won the championship with them. In his last season, the Thunder lost in the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors in a loser-goes-home seventh game. That year the Warriors were the defending champions and had the best regular-season record of all-time. They would, however, lose in the finals. After the season was over, Kevin Durant was a free agent, meaning he could sign and play for any team he wanted. In a controversial decision, he signed with the Warriors. Oklahoma City Thunder fans felt betrayed. Some so much so that they decided to express their frustration. Yelp was one outlet.

When I saw a headline about Thunder fans using Yelp to trash Durant’s restaurant, I laughed at the concept. I found the one review I quote especially funny. I like clever, and that was clever. I showed my co-worker this review, expecting him to find it funny as well. Instead, he came to Durant’s defense.

“I don’t know why everyone is giving Durant such a hard time. He played in Oklahoma City for seven years. Why can’t he leave and play where he wants?”

I wasn’t having it. “I have no problem with him leaving, but when you’re one of the best players in the world, you don’t join the team that knocked you out of the playoffs, the team that set the record for most regular-season wins, the team with 3 other superstars. He’s taking the easy way out. They are going to kill everyone next year”

The argument went back and forth until my coworker wanted to quiet me and make a point.  “If you’re so confident, let’s make a bet. You have the Warriors, and I have every other team. Whoever wins the finals, wins a thousand dollars.”

That’s a lot of money, especially for a kid fresh out of school with student loans. Up to that point, I felt uneasy betting more than twenty dollars on a game. Call it confidence in my sports knowledge, or call it pride, I wasn’t going to let my co-worker push me around. I took the bet.

It was July and the finals weren’t until June. Those were a great eleven months, and that season has been my favorite NBA season. From the start, the Warriors were destroying teams. Many believe that team to be one of the best of all time. Normally, I would have vehemently rooted against the Warriors and been frustrated at how lop-sided the team was. But not this time. I had a thousand reasons to root for the Warriors. And as soon as anyone knew about the bet, no one could fault me for rooting for the best team.

I won the bet (we later mutually agreed to reduce the amount), but the money wasn’t the best part. Even if I had lost the bet, that season was so enjoyable, that the entertainment per hour would have been well worth it. I checked the scores first thing in the morning, listened to all the podcasts and talk shows, and told anyone and everyone about the bet. I learned the true beauty of sports gambling – a friendly wager makes everything more exciting.

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