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Jerry Bo's Bookie Busters World Cup Final: One more time, we’re going to celebrate

Croatia is a surprise finalist. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

One more time to fight, Let's celebrate

Growing up, I remember past films ending with the words "The End," in some cases the screen would read "Fin."

While some would say this film has reached its climax, Sunday allows us 90 more minutes (or in Croatia's trends 120), to enjoy the bright green colors of the pitch and the vibrant shades of flags from diverse nations in the crowd. Sunday, in front of the universe, aficionadi of sport - not just futbol, but those that love a good war - will witness blood, sweat, and tears.

France: A 7-1 pre-tournament favorite, France comes into the final as arguably the best team in the competition from top to bottom and certainly the most expensive with over a $1.2 billion  payroll. Les Bleus have managed to win one title in their national team's history, and that came in 1998 on home soil. Current Manager Didier Deschamps captained the French over Brazil on July 12, 1998, to their first and only World Cup title.

Croatia: Some like to use the term Cinderella after being priced at 33-1; I tend to lean on the phrase, "A team of destiny."  Fighting for the 4,164,783 citizens back home, the hopes and aspirations lie on the foot of phenom Luka Modrić. A team that thrived on being disrespected by English pundits in the semifinal will take the pitch once again as underdogs.

Lights, camera ACTION

The world's most significant sporting event brings out the pocketbook of even the tightest character. For a unit of measure, soccer's other prominent event, the Champions League Final, receives about 6% more action in terms of wager size on the Final match compared to other games in the competition.

The World Cup sees a giant spike in numbers when it narrows down to the final. Figures indicate a 26% jump compared to other games during the month-long tournament. Also, the wager sizes are 17% larger than those that we see in the Champions League Final.

It's estimated that almost 80% of bettors in the World Cup final didn't wager on any other previous match in the tournament, showing us that even the most casual of fans like to get some money in on the last game.

As far as the teams involved, The difference in payouts is $10 million as the Champions will be receiving $38 million and the runner-up $28 million The payouts for the World Cup have seen a steady increase since 2002, where at that time the total payouts were $154 million. In 2018, an estimated $400 million will be paid out to the participating 32 countries.

England vs Belgium

England    +234 +.5   -132
Belgium    +121
Draw           +273
Over
Under       3 -119

3rd place winner
England    +140
Belgium   -155

Croatia vs France

Croatia   +409
France    -108 -.5 -108
Over
Under   2 -122

Champion
Croatia -185
France -210

Picks

France Regular time    MAX
France Champion 1 U
Kylian Mbappé Golden Ball 2U
Kylian Mbappé Scores goal   2U
Ngolo Kante  Golden Ball   1/2 Unit +2000
Halftime-Fulltime Draw/ France   +330 1U

The End

For any questions or comments reach me @JerryBoknowz on Twitter.

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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