When assembling a championship contender, one rule is of paramount importance – get the best talent you can. You’ll be going up against the best possible rosters your opponents can put together, so it’s only logical that you should star-pack your own team. Sometimes the stars match, and you can even stack your roster with multiple Hall of Famers, guaranteeing you a title.
Not quite. That’s probably what the Brooklyn Nets had in mind when they acquired Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019 and then added James Harden towards the end of the 2021 season. That’s three superstars who will likely all go to Springfield, Massachusetts when they retire and who can take over all the games. Who could stop her? Lots of things, it turns out — between injuries and extrajudicial factors, the trio only played 16 games together (at a 13-3, to be fair) before Harden was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade. The nets were swept in the playoffs and now Durant has requested a trade while Irving’s future with the team is in flux.
If that makes Nets fans feel any better, it’s nowhere near the first time a superteam hasn’t won a title. Here are a few examples since the turn of the century.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal alone were a combination to fear, but the Lakers decided to add Karl Malone and Gary Payton to continue overwhelming other teams. It wasn’t a bad idea – the team finished first in the Pacific Division and third overall in the Western Conference and made it through the playoffs, going 12-5 in the first three rounds. Unfortunately, the Lakers met a defensive juggernaut with the Detroit Pistons and lost 4-1 in the NBA Finals. Payton would be traded to the Boston Celtics and Malone would retire, ending this super team for good.
Take Tom Brady, quite possibly the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Pair him with Randy Moss, one of the top five wide receivers of all time. Then you have a team full of names like Wes Welker, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Junior Seau, Vince Wilfork and Asante Samuel. The result? A 16-0 regular season for only the second time in NFL history. Unfortunately for this team, their most recent record has a one in the loss column when Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeated the Patriots in one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time.
The modern Nets, of course, isn’t the first time Durant and Harden have been on a team that didn’t quite make it. That dubious honor belongs to the Thunder, who drafted Harden shortly after moving to Oklahoma City to play alongside Durant and Russell Westbrook. The trio immediately began to dominate, and the Thunder improved every year until they reached the NBA Finals in 2011-12. This streak started well when the Thunder defeated the Heat at home in Game 1, but after that they lost four straight. Harden was traded during the offseason after the team failed to sign him for an extension.
A pitching ace is pretty great, but what happens when you have four? The Phillies rocked a rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, not to mention Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in the lineup. That’s good for 102 wins and a league-low of 529 runs allowed. They faced the St. Louis Cardinals in Division Series, and while they led 2-1 in their first three games, St. Louis rallied to force a Game 5. Skip Schumacher knocked out Halladay in a run first inning, and Chris Carpenter scored a three-hit shutout. The Cardinals would end up winning the World Series.
2011-17 Los Angeles Clippers
One of the most exciting teams in NBA history, the Lob City Clippers wanted to bring a non-Lakers title to Los Angeles with their high-flying style of basketball. Taking on Chris Paul meant Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would have plenty of alley-oop opportunities — just ask poor Brandon Knight after Jordan threw an all-time poster dunk at him. The Clippers were a very good team during Paul’s tenure but fell apart in the playoffs – Lob City never progressed past the semifinals.
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34175176/nets-join-list-recent-superteams-never-won-championship Nets join list of recent superteams that never won a championship