As you’ve probably heard by now Kevin Durant is a member of the Golden State Warriors (and by the way if you haven’t heard, I’m dying to know what part of the vast, internet-less world you spent the last 24 hours). Sure KD can’t technically sign with Golden State for another couple days, but when he does, he appears to be the final cog in the NBA’s next great ‘super team’ one which is all but a certainty to win the NBA title next year…
Or are they?
That’s because for all the talk about how great the 2016-2017 Warriors will be — and yes, they will be great — the idea that simply adding Durant to a 73-win team guarantees them a title simply isn’t true.
As a matter of fact, there have been plenty of times in league history where super teams have been formed and titles have been handed out in the preseason, only to see them come up short when the games were actually played.
Don’t believe me? Here are five examples.
Quite possibly the best example of ‘the super team gone terribly wrong’ is the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers.
At the time LA was one year removed from their famed ‘three-peat’ from 2000-2002, and looking to regain that title edge, added future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton to a roster which already included two of the biggest stars in the game, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
From the beginning however, things didn’t go to plan, with Shaq pushing for a contract extension, and Kobe standing trial in a sexual assault case in Colorado. Despite the adversity though the Lakers still eventually peaked late in the season, winning 56 games and advancing to the NBA Finals.
Once there however, they couldn’t close the deal, losing to the Pistons in five games, and eventually bringing the ‘Shaq-Kobe’ era to a close as we knew it.
O’Neal was dealt in that off-season and so too was Payton. Malone retired a short time later, and it would be five more years before Bryant again won a title in the purple and gold.
When LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived in Miami to join Dwyane Wade, it was LeBron who guaranteed "not one, not two, not three"… NBA titles. And while the Heat would eventually get two with the "Big Three", neither came in that first year together.
Instead, things got off to a slow start in Miami, where the Heat went just 9-8 to start the season off, before eventually ending up with the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But even after defeating the Chicago Bulls to advance to the NBA Finals, Miami couldn’t close the deal, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
With 62 wins (and an NBA Finals appearance) in 1993 and a 56 wins in 1994, the Suns appeared to be right on the cusp of winning an NBA title, and in the off-season acquired All-Star Danny Manning to join a core which included fellow All-Stars Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson, and one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters in Dan Majerle.
Unfortunately (are you sensing a trend here?) it wasn’t meant to be. Johnson suffered an injury to start the season, and Manning was limited to just 49 games with his own health problems.
Phoenix still went on to win the Pacific Division, but for the second year in a row lost in the Western Conference semifinals to the Houston Rockets.
After another disappointing season in 1995-96 the Suns officially moved on, trading Barkley to the….
That’s right, after falling short four years in a row in Phoenix, Barkley was shipped to Houston, where the Rockets hoped that teaming him with fellow veterans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler would result in the team’s third title in four years (Houston won in 1994 and 95, before getting swept by the Seattle Supersonics in 1996).
And unlike the other teams on this list, it appeared as though the pairing worked, after the Rockets jumped out to a 21-2 record to start the season. From there however, Houston cooled off, finishing third in the West, before losing to the Utah Jazz in six games.
Drexler retired a year later, and Barkley never did get his ring.
Now, were this past season’s Warriors technically considered a ‘super team’? Who knows. But they won 73 regular season games, so they were clearly pretty damn good.
They however, like the rest of the other teams on this list didn’t ultimately end up winning a title.
Will they get one with Durant in the fold?
Only time will tell, but if history is any indication a championship is no certainty. `