The Demise of the Dominant
The Golden State Warriors blew a 3–1 lead in the NBA Finals.
That much you know. The Warriors were the Goliaths, they set more than 25 NBA records during the 2015–2016 season, including the record for most wins in a season.
What you may not know is that history told us way before it happened that they would lose. It was bound to happen. In the last twenty years, the record for most wins in a season has been broken in all four major sports in North America. What happens to these new “best ever” teams is one, they always fall short, and two, their encore the following year almost always disappoints. Don’t believe me? Just watch.
2007 New England Patriots
16–0, Lost in Superbowl
Before the Warriors, the Patriots were the last team to break the record for wins in their sport. The Patriots won all 16 of their season games, marking the first undefeated season in the National Football League since 1972. They then won two playoff games, sending them to the Superbowl. Heavily favored, the Patriots were outmatched by the underdog New York Giants. From undefeated to early finish, the upset in the final game was followed by a disappointing 11–5 season and no playoff birth the next year. This marked the only season in the last 13 that the Patriots have missed the playoffs.
2001 Seattle Mariners
116–46, Lost in American League Championship Series
From gridiron to ground balls, the 2001 Seattle Mariners hold the record for best season in Major League Baseball. In the MLB’s 162 game season, the best teams might win 100 games. In 2001, the Mariners managed to win 116. Even with the best regular season record, they fell short in the second round of the playoffs. The real kicker is that fifteen years later, the Mariners have still not reached the playoffs.
1995–96 Detroit Red Wings
62–13–7, Lost in Conference Finals
It’s been 20 years now since the NHL updated their record for most wins. The ‘95–96 Red Wings continue the theme of greatest teams to not win the Championship. After winning a record 62 games, the Wings lost in the third round of the playoffs, and another historic shortcoming was recorded. The Wings are the exception to part two of the curse, as they did win the Stanley Cup the next year, with only 38 wins during the season.
Ergo, the Warriors are not alone. Their dominance all season, like these other teams with the best records, could not be replicated through the playoffs. If the Warriors are seeking inspiration for their encore, there is one team they could look to…
1995–96 Chicago Bulls
72–10, NBA Finals Champions
Before the Warriors won 73, this team was the holder of the best record in NBA history. The ’95–96 Bulls are also hailed as the best basketball team ever, since their 72-win season was capped off by an NBA Championship. To make it more impressive, the following year was very similar. The Bulls managed to win 69 games that season, and then tacked on another NBA Championship to continue their reign.
This Bulls team serves as a benchmark for dominance, as these other teams reveal the hard truth that even if you’re penning your name in history, you better save some wins for when it matters.