World Cup or NBA championship: Which is easier to predict?
The World cup is dominated by Brazil, Germany, and Italy; the NBA championship, by Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Who's more dominant?
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True, the three teams with the most titles (Boston, L.A., and the Chicago Bulls) show up with amazing consistency. One of those teams has won the title 61 percent of the time going back to 1947.
Why such dominance? All three soccer-mad nations produce excellent players through well-developed networks that bring promising young players in contact with expert coaches. They play against challenging competition. And the World Cup itself has no restrictions or rules that try to help weaker national teams at the expense of better ones.
More balance in America?
The NBA is supposed to be different. For decades, the teams with the worst records have had first picks in the NBA draft. The league also has a salary cap designed to keep richer teams from outspending poorer ones in the search for talented players.
But since the 1984-85 season, when the modern cap was instituted, the three top teams (L.A., Chicago, and the San Antonio Spurs) have been even more dominating than in earlier NBA history. One of them has won the championship 69 percent of the time.
Take professional football. One of the three teams (the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, or San Francisco Forty-Niners) has won the Super Bowl 36 percent of the time. Since the league instituted a hard salary cap (with fewer loopholes than the NBA), has that percentage declined?