The Golden State Warriors chose not to prolong the inevitable, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals and winning its third title in the last four years.
Plenty of variables can be attributed as to why teams fail to secure a single victory in the grandest stage. Some teams are simply just not yet ready for the bright lights, while others are just unlucky to run into completely overpowered competition.
Since the inception of the NBA in 1949—after the merger between Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL)—only eight teams have failed to secure a victory in a seven-game Finals series.
The first recorded obliteration came in the 1958-59 season, when the Boston Celtics trounced the Minneapolis Lakers in four games.
The Baltimore/Washington Bullets franchise suffered the same fate twice in the 70s’, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1970-71 and against the Golden State Warriors in the 1974-75 season.
Here are five other times the brooms came out in the NBA Finals.
1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers def. Los Angeles Lakers
Aside from LeBron James, all-time greats Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Cooper also suffered two swept-out Finals defeats in their careers.
James Worthy would have been on the list as well, but he was injured for the entirety of the 1983 Finals series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Missing the services of “Big Game James”, the inexperienced Lakers squad was completely overwhelmed by the Sixers team, who had Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and the late Moses Malone.
1988-89 Detroit Pistons def. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers was once again decimated with injuries in 1989 Finals when they faced the overly physical “Bad Boys” from Detroit.
With Magic Johnson and Byron Scott, the team’s starting back court, both rendered unable to play, the team’s hopes for a “three-peat” soon vanished rather quickly.
The Pistons took full advantage and won their first title in franchise history and also avenged their Finals loss the prior year.
1994-95 Houston Rockets def. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic of the mid-90s’ was certainly one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, with young superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway seemed poised to take over the league.
But the team faced a rude awakening in the 1995 NBA Finals when they squared up against the defending champions Houston Rockets.
After building a huge lead early in Game 1, the brash Magic squad figured they had the match in-the-bag only to choke in the closing seconds of the game.
The game set a precedent for the entire series as Hakeem Olajuwon and company schooled the youngsters in 4 games.
2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers def. the New Jersey Nets
This series appeared to have been over even before it began, as the Lakers clearly had the superior line-up and had championship experience by their side.
L.A. was at the height of their powers at the time, having won back-to-back titles and sporting the deadliest one-two-punch combination in the league in Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
The Jason Kidd-led team, meanwhile, was prolific in their own right, featuring athletic forwards Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson, but was simply no match against the Western powerhouse.
Nets’ big men Jason Collins and Todd MacCulloch appeared helpless in containing O’Neal, while Bryant just toyed with every defender thrown at him.
2006-07 San Antonio Spurs def. Cleveland Cavaliers
Sadly, for LeBron, the 2018 NBA Finals wasn’t the first time he fell victim to the broom.
The young “King” accomplished the unthinkable in the 2006-07 season, taking a starting unit of Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Drew Gooden all the way to the Finals.
But the team would stumble upon a major roadblock in the form of the San Antonio Spurs, who showed James first-hand what it takes to win a title.