When you’re playing professional sports, you can never take anything for granted. You’re playing against the best players in the world, so you better stay focused and grind or you’ll find yourself at the bottom after being at the top of the world.
Injuries, trades, and free agency can completely turn a franchise around in the blink of an eye, So even if a team looks unbeatable one year, they can be out of the playoffs the very next season.
And notably, a handful of teams over the course of history have gone from heaven to hell in no time at all, missing the playoffs right after making it to the NBA Finals the previous year. Today, we’re going to let you know everything about you need to know about them:
1988-99 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls were the reigning Champions after beating the Utah Jazz, but Michael Jordan’s retirement took a major toll on their chances to compete. Also, they traded Scottie Pippen away and the team wound up winning just 13 games that season.
Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc were the team’s lone stars at that point, and that meant the end of a dynasty for a team that had just won a three-peat. Notably, the Bulls haven’t made it to the Finals ever since, and they’ve struggled to compete at the highest of levels lately.
2004-05 Los Angeles Lakers
The ‘Fab Four’ experiment didn’t work out for the Lakers, as they were beaten in the Finals by the Pistons in just 5 games despite putting together an impressive dream team featuring Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Lakers traded Gary Payton and Shaquille O’Neal next season to start back from scratch, and they only won 38 games the next season, with Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom as the team’s lone stars and the Phoenix Suns taking control of the division.
2014-15 Miami Heat
The Heat was coming off four straight trips to the NBA Finals with LeBron James running the show, winning two of them, but losing the last one against a surging Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. Then, LeBron left town to go back to the Cavaliers.
Chris Bosh fell down with an injury and Dwyane Wade was unable to lead the team to the playoffs. They fought until late in the season for a playoff berth, but a loss vs. the Toronto Raptors just two games before the end of the regular season sealed their fate.
2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers made it to 4 straight NBA Finals, but were victims of the LeBron James effect once again. The Cavaliers were swept by the Warriors following Kyrie Irving’s departure, and James decided to take his talents to the Lakers.
The Cavaliers had their first losing season in 5 years, winning just 19 games with an injured Kevin Love. Now, they continue to struggle to get anything going, and they’re not likely to make it back to the NBA Finals unless James comes back home.
2019-20 Golden State Warriors?
Well, it’s still way too early in the season, but things aren’t looking good for the Golden State Warriors. They lost Klay Thompson in the Finals, Stephen Curry suffered a fractured hand, and Draymond Green is struggling to find his groove this year.
We don’t even know if D’Angelo Russell will stay with this team past the trade deadline, and they currently have the worst record in the NBA after suffering a 48-point blowout loss vs. the Mavericks, which was their worst loss since 1973. The Warriors’ dynasty was one of the strongest we’ve ever seen, but they’re unlikely to make the playoffs now.