LeBron James had a bad Saturday, as did everyone who wagered on him to win this year's Most Valuable Player award. His high ankle sprain has shaken up the MVP race, and Nikola Jokic is now a heavy favorite to win it.
Yes, the same Jokic who plays for the fifth-best team in the Western Conference.
“I hereby cast my ballot for Nikola Jokic because the Nuggets never would have finished fifth without him!”
Anyone with a ballot who would dispense that type of quote is undeserving of a vote, so take what the sportsbooks are doing with a grain of salt.
The race is now super wide-open, and the only big winners are the folks who take bet slips for a living, along with those who invested in sports gambling companies when the pandemic hit.
DraftKings, Bet365 and William Hill all took MVP odds down overnight when James suffered his injury against the Atlanta Hawks. FanDuel and BetMGM made Jokic the +110 favorite (wager $110 to win $100), and PointsBet.com made the Nuggets' All-Star big man an even bigger favorite at -110.
When DK reopened the market, Jokic was at +110, James was at +450, Joel Embiid was at +600 and Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden were both +800. WilliamHill had the odds listed as Jokic +110, James +450, Embiid +600, Antetokounmpo +750, Harden +1000 and Damian Lillard +1400. Bet 365 did not have the market re-listed by noon Pacific time.
It is unclear how long James will be sidelined, but the pivot by the books reflected an expectation that he will be on the shelf for a while. James had played in all but one of the Lakers’ first 42 games, so a two-week absence would not necessarily knock him out of the race. Allen Iverson missed 11 games in his MVP season of 2000-01, and Bill Walton sat out 34 when he was MVP for Portland in 1977-78.
But the books are not privy to what the Lakers’ medical staff knows, and perhaps they did not read the end of his latest tweet closely enough?
Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates! I’m hurt inside and out right now. 🤦🏾♂️. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left. #ThekidfromAKRON🤴🏾— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 21, 2021
“Soon” means different things to different people.
One place sportsbooks are most popular is among investors and investment firms, who saw the growth of this industry coming the same way commissioner Adam Silver did when he penned an op-ed for the New York Times in 2018, about five months before the main U.S. sports gambling law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since the pandemic hit and people stopped spending money on things like restaurants, gasoline and commuting costs, the industry has exploded.
The stock of DraftKings has risen from $9.85 in August of 2019 to more than $72 now. The parent company of FanDuel, Flutter Entertainment, was at $38.19 on March 20, 2020. It is now trading at around $117 on the London Stock Exchange. Why? Because this is a worldwide growth industry, and many Americans like to gamble. Penn National stock was less than $8 when the pandemic struck. On Friday, it closed at $117.37. Folks who saw that coming are getting rich.