Let’s face it. Everybody loves an underdog. Everybody roots for the smaller, weaker team on sort of a David vs Goliath kind of way, but those Hollywood stories are pretty much a rarity nowadays.
Over the course of history, we’ve witnessed some amazing stories unveil, with the so-called underdog actually outplaying the team that was supposed to easily win, earning the ultimate honor of winning a Championship.
Today, we’re going to go ahead and let you know about the few times this has actually happened, talking about the top 10 most surprising NBA Championships throughout the history of the game.
10. 1989 NBA Finals: Pistons 4 – 0 Lakers
The Showtime Lakers were the team to beat for the entire season, even though the Detroit Pistons looked like a way better squad. It was supposed to go down to the wire, but eventually, the Pistons completely humiliated Johnson and the Lakers by sweeping them 4-0 behind Isiah Thomas’.
9. 1983 NBA Finals: Sixers 4 – 0 Lakers
The fact that the Philadelphia 76ers actually won the 1983 NBA Championship shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how good of a team they were, but in a time when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers pretty much took turns to win the ring, this Sixers victory definitely stands out from the pack.
8. 1978 NBA Finals: Bullets 4 – 3 Sonics
Nobody really trusted the Washington Bullets to pull the upset off, especially considering they had just finished the regular season with a mediocre 44-38 record. Still, with Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld playing at their best when it mattered the most, the Bullets put the cherry on top of the sundae with a great playoff run and a 7 game series win against the Sonics in Seattle.
7. 1958 NBA Finals: Hawks 4 – 2 Celtics
The St. Louis Hawks almost immediately regretted to have traded Bill Russell’s rights to the Boston Celtics, with the ladder winning 11 Championships in 13 seasons to completely dominate the league. So, when the Hawks were able to actually snub them from the ring in 1958, nobody could believe it.
6. 1967 NBA Finals: Sixers 4 – 2 Warriors
Once again, the Boston Celtics were the team to beat during basketball’s early stages, winning 8 straight titles before the dawn of the 1966-67 season. Still, a really solid Philadelphia team would be able to go the distance in 1967, although the Celtics would immediately bounce back and win back-to-back titles the next couple of seasons.
5. 1995 NBA Finals: Rockets 4 – 0 Magic
After winning the 1993-94 NBA Championship, the Houston Rockets didn’t look nearly half as solid for the upcoming campaign, as the team had just finished with the 6th seed in the Western Conference and tumbled their way through the playoffs. Still, Hakeem Olajuwon would eventually carry his team to back-to-back Chips by sweeping the Orlando Magic.
4. 2006 NBA Finals: Heat 4 – 2 Mavericks
Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat had to overcome a 2-0 deficit in this series against the Dallas Mavericks, winning 4 games in a row to win the first title in franchise history. Miami wasn’t even supposed to make it to the Finals, as the Pistons were the favorite to take home the East, but thanks to Wade’s 34+ points per game and some strange calls by the refs, they were able to pull it off.
3. 2004 NBA Finals: Pistons 4 – 1 Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers had just put together a dream-team kind of squad by signing Gary Payton and Karl Malone to join Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but even though the Pistons didn’t have a superstar on their team, they wind up proving that they had the kind of chemistry and determination to beat a team with more talent. Thanks to their top-notch defense, they destroyed the Lakers in 5.
2. 2011 NBA Finals: Mavericks 4 – 2 Heat
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were heavy favorites to take home the Championship against Dirk Nowitzki and a team filled with veterans and role players, and they were even mocking Dirk due to a subpar performance thanks to the flu. Nonetheless, the Great Teuton and his inspired teammates were able to overcome the fact that they were facing 2 of the best 3 players in the world, taking a 6 game series victory.
1. 2016 NBA Finals: Cavaliers 4 – 3 Warriors
And by far, the most surprising Championship ever has to be the Cavs upsetting the Dubs in 2016, not only because of the fact that they overcame a 3-1 deficit, but also because the Warriors were a much better team back then. James gave the city of Cleveland the Championship he had promised, while Kyrie Irving completely dominated Curry, especially during Game 7.