“Almost………..”

Ok, so we already looked at the guys who snuck a ring in on us. Now let’s explore the other side of that coin. Today, let’s look at the best squads to never hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. For the most part, these teams just happen to be a victim of bad timing. Only three teams on the list didn’t reach the Finals and I feel they would have won if they got there. Just goes to show that winning a championship is no easy feat. Alright, enough preamble. Let’s get right into it. (SN: To be eligible for the list the franchise must not have won a championship with the same core as the listed team hence why some Lakers and Celtics teams were not added and so on and so forth).

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10: 2000 Indiana Pacers

Starting Lineup:

PG: Mark Jackson

SG: Reggie Miller

SF: Jalen Rose

PF: Dale Davis

C: Rik Smits

Head Coach: Larry Bird

Tough veteran team, very solid defensively, great coaching and featured maybe the greatest shooter of all time. Took the Lakers to 6 games in the Finals. Reggie Miller and Jalen Rose combined for nearly 45 ppg throughout their playoff run. Beat a really good Knicks team in the Conf. Finals. Just didn’t have enough to beat the powerhouse Lakers squad.

sheed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9: 2000 Portland TrailBlazers

Starting Lineup:

PG: Damon Stoudamire

SG: Steve Smith

SF: Scottie Pippen

PF: Rasheed Wallace

C: Arvydas Sabonis

Head Coach: Mike Dunleavy

Balanced squad, all five starters averaged double figures in scoring throughout the season, would have won the chip if not for the 3 peat Lakers (there’s a theme here), An aged (but still very good) Pippen who was the primary facilitator for the team, leading them in assists. Was essentially one quarter away from playing in the Finals against the aforementioned Indiana Pacers (which I believe they would have won, hence their ranking on the list).

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8: 1994 New York Knicks

Starting Lineup:

PG: Derek Harper

SG: John Starks

SF: Charles Smith

PF: Charles Oakley

C: Patrick Ewing

Head Coach: Pat Riley

Hard nosed, defensive minded team. Superstar play from Ewing and steady play from Starks. Finally broke through to the Finals in the first post MJ season. Not the most overly talented team but they were in contention every year. Would have had more opportunities in the Finals had it not been for the Bulls.

clydeandmj

 

 

 

 

 

 

7: 1992 Portland Trailblazers

Starting Lineup:

PG: Terry Porter

SG: Clyde Drexler

SF: Jerome Kersey

PF: Buck Williams

C: Kevin Duckworth

Head Coach: Rick Adelman

Another victim of the 90’s Bulls regime. Had the second best SG of his era. Great offensive team (4th in scoring during the ’91-’92 season). Beat the Phoenix Suns (who will make an appearance later on) and Utah Jazz en route to their second finals appearance in three years. They should probably blame the media (The Clyde vs. MJ hype machine) and Clifford Robinson (said Jordan couldn’t shoot resulting in the Shrug game) for their demise.

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6: 2007 Phoenix Suns

Starting Lineup:

PG: Steve Nash

SG: Raja Bell

SF: Shawn Marion

PF: Boris Diaw

C: Amar’e Stoudemire

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni

Perhaps one of the best offensive teams ever. Led by MVP Steve Nash. Amar’e Stoudemire was wreaking havoc throughout the league. Were most likely a Robert Horry hip check and a Stoudemire suspension away from a championship (I have a sneaking suspicion they would have ran the Cavs smooth out the gym).

shaqanddream

 

 

 

 

 

5: 1995 Orlando Magic

Starting Lineup:

PG: Penny Hardaway

SG: Nick Anderson

SF: Donald Royal

PF: Horace Grant

C: Shaquille O’ Neal

Head Coach: Brian Hill

One of the best tandems in NBA history. The only team to beat a MJ led playoff squad in the 90’s. The least high profile coach on the list, which speaks to the talent of this team. A relatively young team, if they had more time together would have been very special. Got swept in the Finals by the Rockets on their way to back to back titles.

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4: 1996 Seattle Supersonics

Starting Lineup:

PG: Gary Payton

SG: Hersey Hawkins

SF: Detlef Schrempf

PF: Shawn Kemp

C: Ervin Johnson

Head Coach: George Karl

This is one of my favorite teams of all time. Super talented, tough and fun to watch. Were one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league during the ’95-’96 season. Another team that I’m sure wished MJ would have stayed retired. Random thought, they might have had the best defensive trio of PG’s ever on one team (Payton, McMillan, Snow).

sircharles

 

 

 

 

 

 

3: 1993 Phoenix Suns

Starting Lineup:

PG: Kevin Johnson

SG: Dan Majerle

SF: Cedric Ceballos

PF: Charles Barkley

C: Mark West

Head Coach: Paul Westphal

We’re getting to the best of the best now. This Suns team was a PROBLEM. Chuck and KJ couldn’t be stopped on their way to a 62 win season. Barkley averaged 25 pts/12 rebs during his lone MVP season. MJ must have taken it personal because he really destroyed them in the Finals. SN: How many times are we going to have the “MJ killed this team” convo on this list??????

stocktonandmalone

 

 

 

 

 

2: 1998 Utah Jazz

Starting Lineup:

PG: John Stockton

SG: Jeff Hornacek

SF: Bryon Russell

PF: Karl Malone

C: Adam Keefe

Head Coach: Jerry Sloan

Not gonna waste my time here. They will always only be known for “The Last Shot”.

vlade

 

 

 

 

 

1: 2002 Sacramento Kings

Starting Lineup:

PG: Mike Bibby

SG: Doug Christie

SF: Peja Stojakovic

PF: Chris Webber

C: Vlade Divac

Head Coach: Rick Adelman

If there is one team I legitimately feel bad for, it would be these guys. Other teams complain about bad officiating, well a ref served jail time for fixing one of their games. Probably one of the most fun teams to watch. Mike Bibby and C Webb ran the high powered offense and Doug Christie gave them their identity and toughness on the other end. Extremely talented, well coached, they just came around at the wrong time.

There you have it. The 10 greatest teams who never got over the hump. Do you agree with this list? Who’s missing? Who needs to be removed?

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