Will the 2013 NBA Finals Mirror November’s Presidential Election?

Cullen Murray Kemp


Will the 2013 NBA Finals mirror November’s presidential election?


President Barack Obama and the Miami Heat are really not so different, you know? They both hold the title in their respective profession. They both have fans and followers that are often overshadowed by critics and scrutinizers. The President strives to convince Americans that Obamacare is the right form of healthcare and that his foreign policies will keep us safe, while the Miami heat strive to improve three-point shooting and defensive rotations. Most of all, they both would like to repeat their respective reigns of supremacy and beat out the oppositions en route of retaining their respective titles as President and as NBA champions.


Let me point out that I wasn’t the first to make the metaphorical Obama/Miami Heat comparison—it came straight from the President’s mouth when he was recently asked if he had what it takes to win this election. His response: “We (the Democratic Party) are the Miami Heat, and he’s (Mitt Romney and the Republican Party) Jeremy Lin.” Jeremy Lin is a bit of a short sale for Romney and his folks, but I haven’t heard the republicans making any NBA-related political rebuttals… So here I take the liberty to fully develop this line of reasoning.



Enter Republicans: “Not so fast,” simultaneously shout Governor Mitt Romney and all-time NBA great Kobe Bean Bryant.


You see, the top-contenders are no slouches here either. The LA Lakers and the Romney camp have made their intentions clear: both the Oval Office and the Larry O’Brien Trophy need new owners. Let's consider and compare the contenders:


Romney/Ryan = Bryant/Howard. Both Bryant and Romney have earned success and respect in their professional careers, Romney through eliminating debt and implementing a universal health care system in Massachusetts and Bryant with scoring titles and countless clutch performances. Now, in 2012/2013, Romney and Bryant seek assistance from two of the country’s rising stars: Paul Ryan and Dwight Howard. The vets and the young guns hope to be swapping advice and alley-oop passes all the way to the promise land.  


It’s all about the money. Mitt Romney, as we know, made a fortune while at the helm of his company Bain Capital. Romney values his riches (pension joke, +1 Obama) and promises to use his knowledge about money to help stabilize the American economy. It just so happens that Romney’s NBA double, the LA Lakers, is the Forbes “most valuable franchise” in basketball—and we all know that the rich think alike. 


Firepower. One of Romney’s campaign priorities is to significantly raise military spending and homeland security. In layman’s terms: Romney thinks the U.S. needs more guns. By analogy, the Lakers shared this thought in their own off-season campaign, upgrading to a top shelf, high-powered offense with the addition of the aging, but still all-star-caliber point guard Steve Nash, and the league’s top center Dwight Howard.


So where then does this leave us? Who will reign supreme Romney/Lakers or Obama/Heat? Three simple questions must be considered before a decision is reached…


1. Who has the better defense?

Politics: Obama +1. Time and time again in past debates Obama has been the brunt of Romney scrutiny and zingers (this is not to say that Obama does not “zing” back). Obama has always kept his wit and demeanor about him, and often replies with defensive one-liners that trump Romney’s critiques.


Basketball: Lakers +1. It’s almost too close to call considering the second best defender in the NBA (LeBron James) plays for the Heat. Yet, with the addition of shot-blocking-fiend Dwight Howard, the Lakers edge this one out.


2. Who has the better offense?

Politics: Romney +1. Bordering on an offensive offense, Romney has no problem raining down on Obama’s shortcomings and reminding voters about things like national debt ($16 trillion plus) and U.S.'s unemployment rate (7.8 percent). Romney has shown that he can attack from all angles and make voters believe that even Obama’s presidential successes were carried out in the wrong manor.


Basketball: Heat +1. As far as starting line-ups go, I have trouble putting any NBA team ahead of the Lakers line-up, especially considering all five players have been the number one offensive option at one point in their careers—Nash (in Phoenix), Bryant (in Los Angeles), World Peace (in Indiana), Gasol (in Memphis), and Howard (in Orlando). But the Laker bench is weak. Heat coach Eric Spolestra realizes now, after one of the most dominant playoff performances in playoff basketball history, that he must take all chains off the beast (LeBron James) and let him reinvent how basketball is played. In the end, I find it impossible to pick against James’ offensive playmaking ability when he is surrounded with Dwayne Wade (slashing and scoring as a great number two option), Chris Bosh (knocking down mid-range jumpers and attacking the rim like he did in last year’s playoffs), and thanks to disputes in Boston, introducing the NBA’s greatest pure shooter ever: Ray Allen.


3. Who has the “it” factor?

There is a lot of the “it” factor going around on both sides. Mitt Romney knows money, and he probably has the better idea of how to stabilize our faltering economy. The LA Lakers are one of the two most decorated NBA franchises of all time and have 16 championship rings to show for their hard work. Both parties have the “it” factor in some way, form, or fashion, but neither is “it” right now. More than anything else, “it” is a belief of knowing you are the best. It is clear Obama knows he is the best candidate at hand, and in turn America seems to believe in Obama—U.S. voters seem to feel “it” when he speaks and leads. Before the 2011-2012 NBA season, most everybody who knows basketball questioned LeBron’s “it” factor—LeBron himself even seemed unsure. The 2012 season was make or break for the Miami Heat, and, moreover, for James himself, and just when the Heat looked like they were ready to “throw in the towel”—down 2-1 to a young, enthusiastic Indiana Pacers team—this happened, and LeBron showed the world he had “it.” The Heat went on to ride LeBron’s new found “it” to the NBA championship, and, so, with an even stronger nucleus around him this year, he is destined to repeat.


Can the President follow suit and ride his “it” factor to re-election? Of course, anything can still happen. But this prognosis indicates that things are looking good for the incumbents.