The NBA Finals are the pinnacle of American sports. Our greatest sporting heroes, such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James have all left their mark on basketball’s greatest stage. The best franchises in history have battled their way through grueling seven-game series’ just for the right to be called champions. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always go to plan.
On some occasions, you battle all season long, then reach the promised land, only to be trounced when it matters the most. This year’s playoffs are well underway, and websites such as oddschecker are comparing NBA and college basketball odds across all online betting companies so that you don’t have to. Will the 2022 championships be as one-sided as the tussles below? We hope not.
Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 Orlando Magic – 2009
The Orlando Magic are one of the few franchises to never win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Their greatest year came in 1995 when they topped the Eastern Conference only to be trounced 4-0 by the Houston Rockets in that year’s finals. To add insult to injury, they beat the Rockets home and away during the regular season. 14 years later, they had a chance to put that nightmare to bed. All that stood in their way was Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.
The writing was on the wall as early as game one, as Captain Kobe racked up 40 points en-route to a comprehensive 100-75 victory for his Lakers at the Staples Center. He bagged a further 29 points in game two, securing an overtime victory for his team before the Magic attempted to fight back by winning game three. Another overtime victory was to come for the Los Angeles outfit though, this time on the road, meaning that the Lakers could wrap things up in game five, and the self-proclaimed Black Mamba duly obliged, netting another 30 points and securing his fourth championship ring in the process.
Oklahoma City Thunder 1-4 Miami Heat – 2012
There’s no denying that 2012 was the year of LeBron. Much was made of King James’ ill-fated ‘The Decision’ two years prior, where he announced live on ESPN that he would be joining the Miami Heat a week after becoming a free agent from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. But in his first season, he and his superstar teammates Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade fell at the final hurdle, losing 4-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. The following year, he would get his revenge.
The Heat did make hard work of the playoffs that year, scraping past both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics in 7 games. Their Finals opponents had been sweeping everyone in front of them though, decimating the reigning champions and Kobe’s Lakers en route to the finals.
In game one, things once again looked ominous for the Heat, as 36 points from Kevin Durant gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead. That was as good as it would get for the Western Conference Champions though, and 113 points and 4 wins later, LeBron had his first Championship ring.
Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers 2017 & 2018
The four-year rivalry between the Cleveland Cavaliers – whose hometown hero LeBron James had recently returned from the Miami Heat – and the rising Golden State Warriors is the stuff of legend. The franchises met in four straight NBA Finals series for the first time in the history of the organization. The pair traded wins in 2015 and 2016, with the Warriors winning out in the former by 4 games to 2, before they would famously blow a 3-1 lead in 2016, losing out 4-3 to a resurgent Cavs.
As Michael Jordan would say, The Warriors took that personally, and they would make King James and co. pay in the two years that followed. In 2017, a mammoth 176 points (35.2 pt avg) from Kevin Durant would give his Warriors a 4-1 series win for his first championship ring, The following year, his side would go one better, decimating their opponents 4-0 and ending the rivalry once and for all.