Word on the Street

“Almost” Team (ol’-most teem) noun. Any team that has the talent and opportunity to win a championship but repeatedly comes up just short of reaching that goal.

Usage example:The Utah Jazz were the “Almost” Team of the late 1990s.

Word history: The murky waters of NBA history are teeming with a shameful assortment of teams that just couldn’t get it done. The Los Angeles Lakers were the the “Almost” Team of the 1960s, losing to the Celtics in the Finals six times (1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969). But at least that team would eventually be rewarded with nine NBA titles (to go with the five titles won by the Minneapolis Lakers during the 1950s). Other teams haven’t been so lucky. The Milwaukee Bucks had a string of seven 50-win seasons during the 1980s, but their path to the Finals was always blocked by teams like the Celtics, Sixers, and Pistons. The Atlanta Hawks, led by Dominique Wilkins, were likewise stymied by the Celtics and Pistons. The Portland Trail Blazers made the Finals in 1990 and 1992, only to lose first to the Pistons and then the Bulls. Portland even won 63 games in 1990-91, the best record in the league that season, but lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Pacers have made six trips to the Eastern Conference Finals (losing in Game 7 three times), but only one trip to the NBA Finals, where they kick-started a Lakers Three-peat. And, of course, there’s the Jazz. During the Stockton and Malone Era, the Jazz won at least 50 games eleven times, and they won 60 or more games three times. The made the Finals in 1997 and 1998, infamously losing to the Bulls both times. Even worse, the second Finals loss, during which they had home-court advantage, is immortalized in 99.99997 percent of all NBA highlight videos in the form of Michael Jordan hitting The Push-off Shot” over Bryon Russel.

“We came so close, Karl. So damn close…”

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Labels: Karl Malone / Dominique Wilkins / Bryon Russel / Michael Jordan / John Stockton / Chicago Bulls / Portland Trail Blazers / Utah Jazz / Los Angeles Lakers (Minneapolis Lakers) / Boston Celtics / Milwaukee Bucks / Philadelphia 76ers / Detroit Pistons / Atlanta Hawks / NBA Western Conference / NBA Eastern Conference / NBA Finals / NBA / Word on the Street

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