10 Most Hyped Superteams in NBA History
The superteam may be a relatively modern concept in the NBA, but it's one that has shaken up the landscape of the Association immensely over the past 30 years.
Iterations of superteams have taken on unique personalities over time, and the heavy focus on free agency over the past 10 years has made the formation of such squads less organic.
The Brooklyn Nets represent the latest build of superteam, although it remains to be seen how Jason Kidd commands his troop in year one as a head coach.
1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers
After the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers lost back-to-back titles in 1982-83 and 1983-84, it was time for the magnificent trio of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy to assert their dominance.
Johnson and Worthy dominated in the open floor while Jabbar and his patented sky hook were nearly unstoppable in the half court under the tutelage of Pat Riley. A year after falling to Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in the finals, the Lakers ran roughshod over the competition en route to a 62-20 regular-season record.
Jabbar, Johnson, Worthy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo and Mike McGee were all significant contributors who shot better than 50 percent from the field during the 1984-85 season that culminated with the Lakers winning a title over the Boston Celtics in six games.
One of the most iconic superteams of all time, it would be a crime not to mention the '80s Lakers, for they laid the groundwork for modern-day franchises.
1994-95 Orlando Magic
Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal entered the second and third years of their careers, respectively, in 1994-95. After one season of prosperity, it became abundantly clear the NBA's most exciting young duo was building something special in Orlando.
An electric offensive pairing, Hardaway and O'Neal combined to average 50.2 points during the 1994-95 season, one in which Shaq led the NBA in scoring at 29.3 points per game. Mix in the offensive stylings of Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott and the complementary post play of Horace Grant, and the Orlando Magic were emerging at the perfect time with Michael Jordan absent from the game.
The Magic led the NBA in nightly scoring (110.9 points per game) and offensive rating (115.7) that season, according to Basketball-Reference, but their defense ranked a meager 19th in opponent's points per game.
Orlando took care of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers to clinch the Eastern Conference title but were quickly dispatched by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in four games during the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance.
1995-96 Seattle SuperSonics
Led by 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year Gary Payton, the Seattle SuperSonics tore through the Western Conference, posting a record of 64-18.
Payton and teammate Shawn Kemp proved to be one of the league's most deadly inside-outside combos, with Kemp's freakish athleticism perfectly complementing Payton's controlled and calculated style of play.
But it wasn't just Payton and Kemp, for head coach George Karl also had near and/or former All-Star talents like Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins to lean upon.
After taking care of the Sacramento Kings in four games and sweeping the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semis, the Sonics were pushed to the brink by the Utah Jazz before clinching their spot in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the Sonics would fall short to the Chicago Bulls as Michael Jordan reasserted his dominance in his first full season back after a brief retirement.
1996-97 Houston Rockets
The start of the 1996-97 season marked Charles Barkley's arrival in Houston, where the final four seasons of his career would play out.
The Round Mound of Rebound joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in H-Town, giving the Rockets a terrifying threesome that was poised to dominate opposing frontcourts. Unfortunately, Barkley's Houston Rockets debut didn't go as planned, as he only appeared in 53 games and shot 48.4 percent from the field, the third-lowest mark of his career.
Despite Barkley's down year, the Rockets made their way to the Western Conference Finals but were undone by a superior Utah Jazz team led by Karl Malone and John Stockton. In case you forgot how that series ended, check out John Stockton's game-winning three in Game 6 that sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals
2001-02 Sacramento Kings
The combination of star power and depth made the Sacramento Kings a Western Conference powerhouse at the start of the new millennium. Chris Webber starred thanks to his blend of power and athleticism. He led the 2001-02 Kings in nightly scoring (24.5 points per game), rebounding (10.1 boards per game) and PER (24.4).
In total, the Kings had seven players that season who averaged double figures in the scoring column. That distributed scoring resulted in the Kings dropping 104.6 points per game while maintaining the league's highest pace of play, averaging 95.6 possessions per 48 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.
One contributor who shouldn't be forgotten is Peja Stojakovic. He actually led the Kings with a total of 1,506 points scored on 41.6 percent shooting from three en route to the first of his three All-Star selections.
Aside from Webber and Stojakovic, the other five players to average double figures were Mike Bibby (13.7), Doug Christie (12.0), Bobby Jackson (11.1), Vlade Divac (11.1) and Hedo Turkoglu (10.1).
Ultimately, the Kings were undone by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, as they fell to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in seven games. The memory of Robert Horry's game-winning three in Game 4 of that series is permanently seared into the memory of Kings fans.
2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone: That legendary Hall of Fame foursome comprised the core of the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers, a team that nearly lived up to the hype.
In what would be Malone's final attempt at hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, the Lakers simply couldn't get past a rough-and-tumble Detroit Pistons squad in the NBA Finals.
A 56-26 regular season paved the way for the Lakers to capture the West's No. 2 seed, and they made quick work of all three Western Conference opponents before doing battle with the Pistons.
The Lakers lost just five games combined to the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, but it was the Pistons who dispatched the LA, putting to rest any hopes of a fourth title in five years for Bryant and O'Neal.
All four of the Lakers' legendary contributors averaged more than 13 points during the 2003-04 campaign, and Bryant led the way with 24 a night on 43.8 percent shooting. Shaq remained his normal dominant self, posting 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds over the course of 67 games.
Malone, who only appeared in 42 games during his final go-around at age 40, averaged a very respectable 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds while recording a PER of 17.8.
2007-08 Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics were a lowly 24-58 and sat alone in the cellar of the Eastern Conference after the 2006-07 season. All hope appeared to be lost.
And then things changed. Fast.
The 2007-08 season progressed without a hitch for the Celtics, as they racked up 66 wins en route to capturing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston wound up being challenged heavily in the postseason, however, as they were pushed to seven games by the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers before defeating the Detroit Pistons in six games to capture a finals berth.
Although they've since disbanded, the rapid success the Celtics had is indicative of superior roster construction by Ainge and immaculate coaching by Doc Rivers.
2010-11 Miami Heat
From the moment LeBron James declared, "not five, not six, not seven," the pressure and hype surrounding the 2010-11 Miami Heat reached unimaginable heights.
The Big Three's inaugural campaign saw them capture an Eastern Conference title, but a loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the finals marred what could have been a legendary start to a new era.
Pressure continued to mount as the Heat searched for their first title since 2005-06, and it was eventually alleviated when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh carried Miami to the promised land over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.
Now, with three finals appearances and two championships over the past three seasons, the Heat have validated the hype. The results weren't instantaneous, but the evolution of James' game has allowed fans to watch some of the most technically sound and intelligent basketball they'll ever see.
2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers
With the exception of the 2010-11 Miami Heat, the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers can easily stake their claim as the most hyped superteam of all time.
Remember the now-infamous Sports Illustrated cover featuring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard? Yeah, last season wasn't very fun. Between injuries to Pau Gasol and Steve Nash during the regular season, the clashing of Kobe Bryant and Howard's personalities and an imperfect offensive system run by Mike D'Antoni, the Lakers simply couldn't get in a groove.
The Lakers finished 45-37, qualifying for the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, which was actually a respectable accomplishment considering their 20-26 start to the season (which included a 5-11 record in January).
So what's changed heading into 2013-14? Howard has bolted for the Houston Rockets, creating an alliance with James Harden, while Bryant is on the mend from a torn Achilles. Should Bryant return for the bulk of next season, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out without the enigmatic Howard in the post.
2013-14 Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are the superteam du jour this season, and for good reason. Already a top-five Eastern Conference power, the Nets added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko this summer in an attempt to unseat the Miami Heat from their throne.
And you better believe this star-studded Nets team will need to hit the ground running, because the clock is ticking on Pierce and Garnett, each of whom realistically has two more years of solid contributions left in the tank.
On paper, things look great, but the 2010-11 Miami Heat and 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers serve as cautionary tales. Hype is achieved by signing players, but results are dependent upon chemistry being formed in a timely manner.
With a rookie head coach and an aging core, expectations should be tempered as the Nets scramble to secure a title.