Winning it all seemed likely, if not inevitable. After falling behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven series against a scrappy Oklahoma City Thunder team, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors grinded out three straight victories and launched themselves into the NBA Finals. Near-elimination injected new life into Golden State, who then came out with guns blazing to win three of their first four games against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors had a 3-1 lead. The 3-1 lead catapulted their chances of winning to between 94 and 97 percent — a little over the chance of finding a tub of ice cream in the freezer of an American home. (I admit that I always have two in my own freezer.)
Fate and statistics (and my love of ice cream) were on Golden State’s side.
But you’ve seen the memes — you know how this ended. The Warriors came up short the next game. Then the game after that. Then on June 19, 2016, Golden State stunned the world by losing a third-straight game to Cleveland, effectively torching their historic season and leaving the ashes of once-distinguished season as fodder for trolls on Twitter.
And so the 3-1 meme was born.
Witnessing one team blow a 3-1 lead, and watching another come back from a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 hole, is a rare treat for any sports fans. But the Sports Gods just kept on giving. Four months later, the Chicago Cubs entered the World Series as the heavy favorites, but instead dug themselves into a 3-1 hole against the Cleveland Indians. FiveThirtyEight put their chances of coming back from such a deficit at 15 percent.
Then in three thrilling games, the Cubs rallied to beat the Indians, ending the a 108-year drought of World Series championships in Chicago. Cleveland, meanwhile, went from being the beneficiaries of a 3-1 lead to becoming its miserable victim.
And so the 3-1 meme was fortified.
But if sports in 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that 3-1 is more than just a record — it is a state of mind. It is a sense of security about the future. It is knowing that I will always have ice cream when I come from school.
Moreover, in 2016, it also means that everything you think is certain might crumble any second.
And so as this long and painful election cycle comes to its long and painful end, we at The Front Runners dare to ask: What is this election season’s equivalent of the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in a championship series?
It certainly concerns the election of the President of the United States. The NBA Finals represent the most exciting, elite level of basketball play in the world. And while in politics “elite” does not necessarily mean “excellent” as it does in basketball, the stakes of the two in their respective worlds are similarly important, which makes the NBA Finals comparable to the election of the Leader of the “Free World.”
It also involves recognizing that Hillary Clinton is a near mirror of the 2015-16 Warriors squad. Both are powerful, yet polarizing figures in American society. Both nearly lost their hard-fought campaigns to plucky competitors — the Warriors with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, Clinton with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party primary— but fought to survive. Both feature a man on their team whose genitals have become a subject of intense national discussion to the benefit of absolutely no one.
Both made history. Upon becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee, Clinton became the first woman to win the presidential nomination for a major party. The Warriors’ 24-0 start to the season and 73-9 season record were both the best in history.
Just as the Warriors were overwhelmingly expected to win the NBA Championship after being up 3-1, so, too, did Clinton’s chances of winning rise after Trump’s infamous tape about grabbing women by the genitals was released. Even after last week’s installment in the saga of Hillary Clinton’s Emails, election forecasts still give Clinton the upper hand with a 66 to 99 percent chance of winning the election.
This is Clinton’s 3-1 lead. The election is hers to win. Fate and statistics — and my love of ice cream — are on her side, too.
But what kind of 3-1 story Clinton will have remains to be seen. Will she follow in the footsteps of her hometown Chicago Cubs and pull together a victory she has coveted and pursued for several years? Or will she turn out like the 73-9 Warriors, a trail-blazing, history-making team, that fell just short of winning it all?
Hold onto your ice cream, folks. It is the year of blowing 3-1 leads, after all.
Kara Avancena is a senior in the College. The Front Runners is a shared column and appears every Tuesday.
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