Every year in the NBA season a champion is crowned. Some may argue that the team that won was “weak” or they got “lucky” to be champions. Fact of the matter is to win a championship there is a little luck involved as well as playing with the heart of a champion. This article ranks the top 5 championship teams since 2000.
1.1999-2000 LA Lakers (67-15 Regular Season Record)This was year 4 of Kobe Bryant and Shaq playing together and year 1 of Phil Jackson coaching the team. Phil Jackson was brought to LA for one reason and that was to bring a championship back to the team and more then one. This Laker team was special because they were on the brink of an epic collapse and found a way to become champions. Leading 3-1 in the western conference finals against Portland, the Lakers found themselves down 15 points in the 4th quarter of game 7 at home. The Lakers embarked on one of the greatest comebacks in playoffs history to win the game and go on to beat Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals.
2.2003-2004 Detroit Pistons(54-28 Regular Season Record) The Pistons had just fired Rick Carlise after consecutive 50 win seasons and a trip to the conference finals after they got swept by the New Jersey Nets. Carlise was replaced by Larry Brown who was viewed as the piece that would bring a championship back to Motown. Midway through the season the Pistons had acquired Rasheed Wallace and were considered heavy favorites to make it out of the East. In the playoffs the Pistons had a rematch with the Nets and were up 2-0 in the series before falling behind 3-2 before winning game 7 to advance. In the conference finals the pistons faced their old coach Rick Carlise and the Indiana Pacers. In one of the lowest scoring playoff series in history the Pistons advanced to the finals with a game 6 victory. Coming out of the West was the heavily favored Laker team that featured Shaq, Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton and Karl Malone. Everyone predicted a sweep in the Lakers favor or a 5 game series at the most. Detroit “shocked the world” and prevailed in 5 games that were not even that close.
3.2004-2005 San Antonio Spurs(59-23 Regular Season Record)The San Antonio Spurs enjoyed tremendous regular season success. The Spurs were built around the “Big 3″ of Duncan, Ginoboli and Parker. Going into the season the Spurs had won 2 previous championships(1999,2003) but had never repeated. During the playoffs the Spurs quickly got through the Nuggets, finished off the Sonics in 6 grueling games and handled the Phoenix Suns in another tough 6 game series. for the second straight year the Pistons would emerge out of the East and would play the Spurs in the 2005 Finals. The Spurs blew the Pistons off the court in the first 2 games of the series that led to many observers to think that the Pistons were overmatched. When the series shifted back to Detroit the Pistons would tie the series up at 2-2 as they blew the Spurs off the court. Game 5 turned out to be a classic as the Spurs took a 3-2 lead back to San Antonio with 2 chances to win to become champions. The Pistons forced a deciding game 7 with San Antonio prevailing the first game 7 the NBA had in the finals since 1995 to become champions.
4.2007-2008 Boston Celtics(66-16 Regular Season Record) The Boston Celtics had acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the 2007 off-season to team up with longtime Celtic Paul Pierce and form the new “big 3″ in Boston. With the 2 new veterans onboard the Celtics completed the greatest single season turnaround in NBA history. One year removed from a horrible 24 win season that included a 19 game losing streak the Celtics won a league high 66 games in 2008. Going into the playoffs the Celtics would need 7 games to get past the Atlanta Hawks and Cleavland Cavs in the first 2 rounds. The Celtics were able to finish off the Pistons in 6 games on their way back to the NBA finals. In the Finals the Celtics faced a familiar foe in the LA Lakers. The Celtics and Lakers had met 10 times previously in the finals with the Celtics going 8-2 in those games. The Celtics would take a 2-0 series lead before losing game 3 and coming back from a 20 pt second half deficit to win game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Lakers forced a game 6 before losing 131-92, the largest close-out victory in finals history.
5.2009-2010 LA Lakers(57-25 Regular Season Record) After defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 for their first championship since 2002 the Lakers were looking to repeat. After an up and down season that started out at 18-3 the Lakers stumbled into the playoffs with an injured Kobe Bryant. The Lakers struggled in the first round against the young and up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers finally figured out the Thunder and took care of them after 6 tough games. In the second round the Lakers swept the Jazz before having to take another 6 grueling games to take care of the Phoenix Suns and return to the finals for the 3rd straight year. The 2010 finals was a rematch of the 2008 finals against the Boston Celtics which ended in humiliation for the Lakers. The Lakers were looking for revenge and to prove that they were a tough team then the one that went down without a fight in 2008 and got pushed around. The Celtics would take a 3-2 series lead back to LA with 2 chances to win 1 game for the championship. With their backs against the wall the Lakers would blow out the Celtics in game 6 setting up a dramatic game 7. The Lakers would fall behind 13 points in the 3rd quarter of game 7 with Kobe Bryant in the midst of a horriffic shooting night(6-24) before playing like champions in the 4th quarter and pulling out a dramtic 83-79 win for the championship. The game 7 victory was the first ever for the Lakers against the Celtics in the NBA finals.