1 Undeniable Reason These Struggling NBA Teams Are Cursed
While infamous bandwagon fans and fans of NBA contenders continue to enjoy a regular season full of success, loyal fans of NBA cellar-dwellers can’t help but wonder if their favorite franchise is cursed to fail.
These fans have seen promising playoff runs fall painfully short. They’ve seen bad decisions by management snowball out of control. They’ve seen superstars leave promising rosters and have even dealt with heart-wrenching injuries.
You can never fault a diehard fan’s loyalty, but sometimes teams just appear cursed by the basketball gods.
For one reason or another, fans of the following teams could excuse past failures to happenings of the supernatural or perhaps just bad luck.
6. Washington Wizards
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The Washington Wizards did find some success from 2005 to 2008 during the Gilbert Arenas/Antawn Jamison/Caron Butler era, but they never managed to get past the second round of the postseason during that time.
Management invested huge dollars into Arenas and Jamison, but the truly egregious contract was given to “Agent Zero.”
Arenas was signed to a six-year, $111 million deal in 2008. As ludicrous as it sounds, the $111 million figure was actually seen as a favor to the Wizards, because it was below the $127 million maximum deal, according to ESPN.
In the ESPN article, Arenas was actually quoted as saying, “You see players take max deals and they financially bind their teams. I don’t wanna be one of those players.”
Well, so much for that.
The Arenas contract marked the beginning of the end for Wizards fans. The once-explosive guard had his career derailed by injuries and off-court issues. Washington hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008 as a result.
With the Wizards' struggles, though, you’d expect them to rebuild through the NBA draft. Unfortunately, Washington landed the first overall pick in 2010 to get John Wall. They missed out on Derrick Rose (2008), Blake Griffin (2009) and Kyrie Irving (2011).
Wall has played much better this season since returning from injury, but it’s fair to say that Rose, Griffin and Irving are all more dynamic talents.
Bad contracts and landing the least desirable No. 1 overall pick in a four-year span has cursed the Wizards to the NBA’s basement.
Perhaps the Wiz can flip the script with a healthy Wall next season. But until then, the Arenas curse appears to be alive and well.
5. Sacramento Kings
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While the Sacramento Kings struggle to get wins in a loaded Western Conference, fans may at least be able to breathe easy with regard to the team's future location.
According to Ben Golliver of SI.com, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has reached a deal with investors to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
Although that's great news off the court, Kings fans are still relegated to remembering the glory days when Mike Bibby, Chris Webber and Doug Christie were running the show. But even that won’t provide much comfort.
According to a 2008 article by Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com, disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy alleged that referees working Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Los Angeles Lakers fixed the game’s outcome.
Had the Kings won Game 6, they would have moved on to the NBA Finals. Instead, the Lakers won Games 6 and 7, and went on to win the NBA championship.
According to the Sheridan article, NBA commissioner David Stern “vehemently denied the allegations.”
Nothing can change the past, but the present on-court product isn’t providing fans in Sacramento much love. DeMarcus Cousins continues to be an enigma. His talent is virtually unmatched, but a lack of maturity has continued to stunt his growth.
Additionally, management continually makes head-scratching decisions to set the franchise back. The most recent of which was trading Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, to the Houston Rockets.
Sacramento netted Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and cash in return. All of those guys are role players at best.
I believe Sacramento gave up on T-Rob far too quickly, but only time will tell.
4. Phoenix Suns
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A combination of injuries, disgruntled starters, (arguably) unfair suspensions, crooked refs and sheer bad luck crippled a Phoenix Suns franchise on the fringe of a championship from 2005 to 2010.
At the center of it all once again, however, is shamed referee Tim Donaghy. Via Paul M. Banks of ChicagoNow.com, Donaghy said that the 2007 Suns were victims of poor officiating. According to Donaghy, “One of the reasons is that Tommy Nunez was the supervisor of officials in that series, and he had a dislike for the (Suns) owner Robert Sarver.”
The Phoenix Suns have been a part of the NBA since 1968. Despite the longevity, the Suns have made the NBA Finals just once, when they did so in 1993 behind the exploits of league MVP Charles Barkley.
The Suns have never won an NBA championship, and with their current roster, they won’t win one any time soon.
Suns fans have been treated to some exciting seasons in the past decade, but their inability to succeed on the highest level still stings.
Losing two-time MVP Steve Nash to the rival Los Angeles Lakers has simply reset the Suns’ process of building from the bottom.
3. Orlando Magic
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Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway and Dwight Howard; those are all the names you need to know to understand the Orlando Magic’s lack of magic over the years.
Both O’Neal and Howard—two superstar centers who started their NBA careers in Orlando—ditched the Magic to join the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers.
Hill and Hardaway—two of the game’s most promising talents ever—were shut down in their prime by devastating injuries.
Although it’s silly to believe in curses, it’s hard to blame any Orlando Magic fan that claims there is one. Orlando has seen two of the best (if not the two best) centers in the NBA’s past decade leave, while two more great talents in their own right were cut down by injuries while on the Magic.
Orlando had success in the past with Hardaway and Howard, but they now stare at a long road to redemption.
Adding Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless in exchange for the disgruntled Howard (instead of adding injury-prone center Andrew Bynum) has worked out beautifully so far.
Even though there are some nice pieces in place, Orlando still holds the second-worst record in the entire NBA at 18-52. Only the lowly Charlotte Bobcats have been worse this season.
The Magic desperately need a superstar talent to compete. However, even if they land one, convincing him to stay may be easier said than done.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
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Since the success of George Mikan and the Minneapolis Lakers (an era that Los Angeles Lakers fans manage to take credit for even though that makes no sense), professional basketball in Minnesota has been largely disappointing.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been granted relevancy due to two studs named Kevin.
Kevin Garnett, who won an MVP award with the T-Wolves in 2004, led the charge during their most formidable years. Although the Timberwolves failed to get past the first round of the postseason from 1997 to 2003, they did make the Western Conference Finals in 2004. They ended up falling to the Lakers, 4-2.
Unfortunately, Minnesota was never able to put enough talent around Garnett to compete for a championship. They eventually traded KG to the Boston Celtics, where he won a championship in 2008.
Kevin Love has ushered in a new era for Timberwolves’ basketball, but his individual accolades (two All-Star appearances) have outweighed team success (no playoff appearances).
A big reason for that has been health, as a broken hand has sidelined Love for all but 18 games this season.
This will be the fifth consecutive season in which Minnesota has failed to make the playoffs with Love. Although injuries are a big part of that, eventually All-Star talents are expected to lead teams to success. I’m not at all convinced that Love could be an alpha dog on an NBA champion from what we’ve seen so far.
To make matters worse, Love is evidently frustrated with the T-Wolves organization. According to an article by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports from last summer, Love said, “My patience is not high.”
That’s the last thing you want to hear if you’re a Timberwolves fan.
Perhaps Love will be the second superstar named Kevin to be traded for assets in the near future.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
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Cleveland Cavaliers fans need not be reminded of “The Decision” LeBron James made to take his talents to South Beach. They’re reminded of that all season long as James posts averages of 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game.
The departure of LBJ dropped Cleveland from 61 wins in 2010, to just 19 wins in 2011.
With James, the Cavs made the 2007 NBA Finals only to fall to the San Antonio Spurs in four games. That remains the only time the Cavs have made an NBA Finals appearance.
Other than that, the Cavaliers are perhaps best known for this shot, to the chagrin of Cavaliers fans everywhere.
Despite the woes caused by two of the greatest NBA players ever (Michael Jordan and LeBron James), the Cavaliers struggles date back even further.
In a Grantland.com column, Bill Simmons writes of the “Patient Zero” for horrible NBA contracts, as well as the “most incompetent owner in NBA history” who started it all, Ted Stepien.
Stepien was the Cavaliers owner from 1980 to 1983. During an incredibly brief stint as owner, Stepien was so atrociously bad at his job that the NBA made a rule eventually called the “Stepien Rule.” The rule stated that no team could trade consecutive first-round picks, something that Stepien had a terribly bad habit of doing, according to Simmons’ column.
For all of the gory details, including how Stepien made history for all the wrong reasons three different times, make sure to read the Simmons piece.
Terrible ownership, historically bad decisions/trades and a big decision by LeBron James make up the basketball curse in Cleveland.
With that said, I believe the Cavs are going in the right direction. Superstar point guard Kyrie Irving points to a bright future, as Cleveland has plenty of cap space to work with moving forward.
The key will be patience, as a lack of that butchered the James’ era in Cleveland. Management overpaid poor-fitting role players to try to win immediately, which forced James out of town.
Although the future in Cleveland has a lot of potential, it’s hard to ignore how doomed this franchise has appeared for decades.