Yahoo! Sports ranks the best teams to NOT win the NBA title and last season’s Cavaliers are:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2008-09
I sort of like this also-ran, because it speaks to how we’ve grown as a sport-regarding culture over the years. These Cleveland Cavaliers ran up 66 wins, an almost Bulls-like 8.9-point differential (way better than any team listed above), and had the greatest player in the game (LeBron James) at their disposal. And yet, when the team lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals last spring, people seemed ready to smartly admit that the Cavs, for all their horses, just didn’t have the horses to run with the Magic.
Nobody was labeled a choker, nobody was fired, and though the team traded for one big (hopeful) problem-solver in the offseason in Shaquille O’Neal, nobody seemed to overreact and make deals for the sake of making deals. Knowing that the team will have the best player in the game, at only age 24, around for at least the next season helps too; but you have to love the lack of hand-wringing. Still, the meek ending doesn’t hide the fact that this was an otherwise dominant team that won 74 of its first 90 games before falling to the Magic in six.
Now, should this Cavs team be on the list? Probably. But over the 01-02 Kings (#2 on the list)? No sir. Does anyone think that the 03-04 Lakers squad (with Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, #6) wouldn’t have whooped last years Cavaliers?
On one hand, after winning 66 games, the Cavs underachieved by not making Finals (let alone winning it) but on the other hand, I think, considering their pieces, they maxed out their potential. The Cavs were 66-16 but went 1-4 against the Lakers and Magic- this is a team that beat all the everyone they should’ve beat and they didn’t take nights off.
Anyways, I don’t think the Cavs are number one. That Kings squad got jobbed; they were great. I loved watching that team and I’ll always remember sitting in my friend’s dorm room watching them get hosed by the refs.
Man, I hated those Lakers teams, I still can’t wrap my mind around that fact that I’ll now be rooting for Shaq.