Heat join the instant-contender ranks

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when the Heat were a team with one All-Star struggling to keep their heads above water in the playoffs.

Well, actually it was.

Then, barely 11 months ago, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on stage at American Airlines Arena for that smoke and laser light show. Which brings to mind a few other NBA teams that have made the rapid ascent from middling to championship contender.

1975 Golden State Warriors — In the previous season, the Warriors with Hall of Famer Rick Barry were a 44-38 team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs in the 17-team league. The addition of rookies Jamaal Wilkes and Phil Smith and a splendid season and playoff run by Barry sent the Warriors on their way to what was considered the greatest upset in the history of The Finals. Not only did the Warriors beat the favored Washington Bullets, but swept them 4-0.

1977 Portland Trail Blazers — In the first six seasons of the franchise’s existence in the Pacific Northwest, the Blazers had never even reached the playoffs. Then a team with third-year center Bill Walton got a huge boost when Maurice Lucas joined the team at the merger with the ABA and Jack Ramsay took over as coach. Lucas was the team’s leading scorer and second-best rebounder. They added rookie guard Johnny Davis to a backcourt with second-year pro (and current Hang Time Grizzlies coach) Lionel Hollins and were poetry in motion moving the ball all the way to the championship and Blazermania was born.

1977 Philadelphia 76ers — The heavily-favored Sixers were the victims of the Blazers in The Finals. But the addition of Julius Erving from the ABA lifted the franchise to new heights. It had only been four seasons since the Sixers set an NBA-worst mark of 9-73 and in the previous season they lost in the first round of the playoffs. With Dr. J leading the way, the Sixers would reach The Finals four times in seven seasons and won it all in 1983.

1980 L.A. Lakers — Yes, the Lakers had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, they were a playoff team. But when a rookie named Magic Johnson arrived in Hollywood, everything changed – the Lakers, the NBA, the game of basketball. It was the start of the golden age of the league as the Lakers went from 47-35 and third in the Pacific the previous season to winning the first of five championships in the ‘80s. And it all began with Magic’s legendary 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals in the Game 6 clincher at Philly.

1980 Boston Celtics — While Magic was performing his tricks in L.A., a rookie named Larry Bird was working similar miracles on the opposite coast. The Celtics were 29-53 and last in the Atlantic Division the year before he arrived. In Bird’s rookie season they went 61-21 and in Year 2 won the first of three championships in the decade.

1995 Orlando Magic — Call it Lottery Magic. First Orlando hit the jackpot for Shaquille O’Neal in 1993 and then struck it rich by winning again in 1994 and turning that pick into a deal for Penny Hardaway. By June of 1995, the Magic were the beasts of the Eastern Conference and advance to The Finals against the Houston Rockets.

2002 New Jersey Nets — Ever since they were forced to sell Julius Erving to Philadelphia on the eve of the first post-merger season in 1976, the Nets franchise seemed to be cursed. But the trade that brought Jason Kidd to the Meadowlands changed everything. Kidd was the point guard, the scorer, the All-Star, the leader that the franchise had so desperately needed and when he teamed up with a young Kenyon Martin and a rookie Richard Jefferson. After finishing just 26-56 the previous season, Kidd took the Nets on a rocket ride that produced back-to-back trips to The Finals.

2007-08 Boston Celtics — Just three seasons into his NBA career, Paul Pierce reached the Eastern Conference finals with Antoine Walker and a cast of young talent. That was the closest he’d come to a title until 2007-08, when Celtics president Danny Ainge followed up a miserable 24-58 Celtics campaign in 2006-07 with cache of blockbuster moves. First, he dealt Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 second-round draft pick to Seattle for All-Star Ray Allen and rookie Glen Davis. Three days later, he traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and a 2009 1st round draft pick to Minnesota for former MVP Kevin Garnett. He also traded for Rajon Rondo on Draft day, added defensive stopper James Posey and sharpshooter Eddie House in the offseason and landed veterans P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell at midseason. It all culminated with a 66-16 season as the Celtics defeated the Lakers in The Finals — Pierce was named Finals MVP — as Boston nabbed its 17th title.

49 Comments

  1. swatcommander says:

    well… MIAMI’S BIG THREE HAS WRITTEN ON THE HISTORY BOOK, ALL THEY NEED IS A RING, TO SHUT DOWN ALL THOSE WHO CRITICIZE!!!!

  2. LakersFan. says:

    Matchup for the ages. As a Laker fan for almost 25 years, I do think Mavs can give more fight than the LA Lakers this season. Not because they swept kobe 4-0, you know, games are won before it, they we’re a deeper and hungrier team. Heat are up for their longest series this post season, Heat in 6, i feel for Dirk and Kidd.

    • Dave says:

      i agree with u as a fellow lakers fan haha…i sed the same the heat were too quick n athletic for the lakers to match up w…mavs hav just enuff weapons n players to pull this off i think…that lakers sweep showed me a lot…u cnt keep this mavs team down they r too resilient

  3. sp says:

    heat over dallas in 6. wade’s gonna go into finals overdrive. LOL 1st ring for lbj and bosh .

  4. Ice Pogi says:

    Reminds me of bulls fan saying MIAMI can’t beat our bulls…. we got a great team with deep bench….
    That’s is 1 reason they loss to MIAMI… They didn’t use their star studded BENCH player namely Brian Scalabrine …
    Hey MIAMI HEAT look at me play with my curly golden hair… It they use him they might tie the ball game 2-2…NOPE I’m just playing….. Brian Scalabrine….. WHat The ….??? LOLs….

    Let’s Go HEAT…. and Bring That Trophy Back to MIAMI……….

  5. LBJ-D-Wade says:

    @TO
    and what’s the main factor for MAVs ? LOL !!!

  6. To says:

    Dirty Nowiztki is THE X FACTOR.

  7. hector says:

    LOL where are the bulls fans now

  8. WhiteHotHEAT says:

    The Dallas Mavericks are desperate to win a title and they want to move on from the 2006 NBA finals. While the Miami Heat has been criticized by many because of LBJ and Bosh leaving their former respective teams, CAVS and RAPTORS. This will be a battle between teams who faced many adversities and challenges. Therefore, this will be a test of endurance and willpower. Which team is in it, to win it? Uh, Randy Jackson? Hahaha.

  9. WhiteHotHEAT says:

    Look at Lebron James now. He has matured and humbled himself for the sake of winning a Championship trophy. Unlike before when he was in CAVS, he thinks too highly of himself. People change and that’s the good thing about this sport. Soon enough D.Rose will also have his prime also and as he matures together with his teammates and win a championship, who knows? Dirk Nowitzki is at the peek of his career and this is a chance for Dallas to prove everyone that they can win a Championship title. Best of luck for the MAVS and the HEAT. Heat in 7.

  10. hahah... says:

    LBJ was robbed by D Choke.. LBJ should win the MVP not D. Choke

    Choke-ago Bulls can go fishing with Choklahoma City Thunder, Chokeston Celtics, and Loss Angeles Chokers…

    • Blyder says:

      hahahahahaha

      just ahhahahahaha

      poor bulls

      • Dave says:

        All u bloggers r clownss…ur all over lebron n the heat and as good as they r…i think kobe will hav sumin to say about all ur proclaimed “championships”…worst fans ever…learn from a winnin organization…dont talk about multiple championships b4 uve even won one…JOKES.

    • uno says:

      You have a very extensive vocabulary.

    • Heat Fan says:

      bbbbbbbbbbbbbbblllllllllllllllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  11. KIngKobra2 says:

    Yall my boys supporting the heat on this blog. Miami get ready because you are about win the title in 6 games just like NBA.com said. Heat won very other series in 5 games this postseason including the the self proclaimed Jordan named D-Choker Rose of Bulls. Why was rose MVP and Lebon mr.clutch not the MVP in the regular season????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  12. Datu says:

    where’s the 1997-1998 Spurs?

  13. LeQuit says:

    LeQuit will be swept 4:0 again. He quit with CAV at the time. He will quit again this year.

    • Stop smoking dope ! says:

      Shut the f..ck up dummy !
      Your Shi..ty Cavs team were not up to the task and No real support for LBJ.
      You must be the stupidest clevealand fan ever and you can keep hating on LBJ all you want but we are going to win it all this year and we’re only going to get better next year and I am sure we can get a decent 7 footer at the 5 position.
      That will be the scariest team you ll ever see Cleveland fan hater.

    • King6 says:

      this guy is dead jealous of how lebron accomplish his thoughts, you must be Cleveland fans,…get new life people of cleveland,..the man moves on,..leave him alone!!! LOSER!!

  14. Rampaging says:

    The 07-08 Celtics were great but what about the 07-08 Lakers? The previous 2 seasons, they were just bottom seeds in the Playoffs. But the arrival of Gasol turned them into instant contenders, losing to the Celtics in 07-08 and winning back-to-back in 08-09 and 09-10…

  15. Jay says:

    where’s the 07-08 Lakers?

    • Jon Henry Javilles says:

      Yeah, where are they? they are play-off team before gasol but since then they become a two time nba champion,

  16. AusRob says:

    Nothing like Heat fan humility is there?

    The most interesting thing about this finals series is which blueprint truly reigns supreme. On one hand we have a team that’s built with a lot of depth, particularly on the bench. They have perhaps the greatest international player ever to play the game, a solid point guard, a wrecking ball center and any number of solid role players. On the other hand we have a top-heavy team with two of the best players of their era, another guy who’s kind of like the shed in the backyard – when you bought the house it was a feature, but nowadays you kind of say it just came with the package – and another eight or nine guys who get paid a pittance.

    • media head says:

      in ’06 riley used the same blueprint of a top heavy team with a more explosive, younger wade and shaq just outta his prime and they beat the mark cuban project, as much as alot of people don’t want lebron to ever win a chip, i hope cuban never does, love dirk but feel cuban is and always has been bad for the nba, he pays luxury taxes like crazy to have a stacked roster, on paper at the beginning of the season i couldn’t believe how deep they were, miami did what they did fair and square, if lebrons agent would have announced the decision he would have taken even more crap, he raised alot of money and turned a doomed situation into a positive, alot of you could learn alot from lebron james, and would never even consider saying half this ish to his face, period.

      • catdog says:

        the ’06 miami team wasn’t top heavy. the league didn’t have the same depth of talent back then so most good teams could only have one legit star (wade) and a great wingman (shaq). but miami had a very good list of role players: antoine walker, gary payton, james posey, eddie house, jason williams, jason kapono, udonis haslem, derek anderson, alonzo mourning. it was a far deeper team than the one they have now. the current mavs team is much tougher physically and mentally than the ’06 team. yeah they are deep but mark cuban can’t buy players to stack his team. if your team is at the salary cap you can’t sign another player unless it’s for a minimum or you have an exception. their payroll is so high because they resign their players to large contracts. that’s very different. and since when is an owner actually caring a bad thing? he loves his team and will put as much money into them as he possibly can. that makes him a good owner for his team and the fans. he has built a culture of winning rather than cost cutting and stands up for what he believes in. he is the perfect owner. you’re comments about lebron raising a lot of money with “the decision” is true and i think it gets overlooked too often but the reason people didn’t like it was because it came across as an entire hour of lebron having other people praise him but more importantly because he owed it to the cavaliers organisation to let them know he was leaving. he should have told them he had decided to leave and then called a press conference with miami to announce publicly his choice. that’s what most people do. imagine going out with a girl for 7 years and then having her tell all your friends that she was sleeping with another guy before breaking up with you. you would think she’s a tramp right? thats how cleveland felt.

      • Tim@Miami says:

        I totally agree with you. As a Heat fan I love Dirk, but I do not like Cuban. I hope he will never see a championship. Remember Dirk’s reaction during the free agent period. He wanted to play with James and Wade :)

  17. MIKE says:

    JAMES + WADE + BOSH + RYLEY= 2 CHAMPION

  18. MIKE says:

    LEBRON THE REAL M V P

  19. KIngKobra2 says:

    The 56% of people who thought heat would win in the NBA finals on the NBA poll are smart unlike the rejects in Dallas out of their minds. Heat have home court advantage and that is the x-factor for the MIAMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII HEAT! Can’t wit for my miami boys and my family to celebrate when the Heat win the championshp this year. OOOOOHHHHHHH YYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!

    • Well said ! says:

      I could not agree more ! We ll win it this year and man can you imagine us next year ?

  20. hey guys says:

    what about the 2007-08 lakers.. they were just a low seeded playoff team before pau gasol arrived during mid season and they actually went to the finals that year.

  21. Mr. eleven says:

    I respect the fact that Dirk (32 yrs old) and Kidd( 38 yrs old) wants the RING so badly. But if you are in the shoes of James and Bosh, will you just let the ring GO without even fighting? It’s their chance, both of them, all of them. But i beat all my peny on MIAMI, go Heat! A 1st RING FOR LEBRON AND BOSH!

  22. jone says:

    Dallas is a very good team but Miami HEAT will repeat the history. Dwade and heat all the way :)

  23. KING JAMES>KOBE + DIRK says:

    KINGGGG BABY ……BEASTTTTTTTTTTT

  24. KING JAMES>KOBE + DIRK says:

    yea i said it….u cant guard james, unstoppable beast. KING BABYYYYY

  25. Chris says:

    great story but what about the most recent instant contenders the 2007 Boston Celtics… went from an under .500 team to instant champions after the addition of KG and Ray Allen in the offseason??

    • sean says:

      lmao did u guys not read the article? the 07-08 celtics is the last one he clearly talks about them

  26. Cpoulin says:

    Where are the 2007-2008 Celtics? They went 66-16 and won it all after going 24-58 the previous season.

  27. lamaskosusumo says:

    Heat is great this year and will surely be the champs , i dont know how they are going to guard Nowitzky but spo will think his way out .. i thinks you must see this http://sportales.com/basketball/heat-versus-maverickswill-history-repeat-itself/

    • Tim@Miami says:

      Haslem will be the key to limit Dirk’s game like the way he did in 2006. As a long time Miami Heat fan, I am feeling way with healthy Haslem now. Most probably we will also throw some other players on Dirk time to time to see who will do the better work.

  28. Analog moments says:

    This was great. i mean there are moments that trades and free agency will be the key for a franchise to win a championsip, Heat will dominate this decade they will start with their core of three superstars and when years go by they will aquire more and more players to make them the deadliest team ever made see http://sportales.com/basketball/top-five-nba-players-in-all-time/ and with lebron commanding the team ( http://sportales.com/sports/miami-heat-the-2011-nba-champions/ ) , lebron is in his prime and he will dominate this era and be part of the legends after http://sportales.com/basketball/miami-heat-lebron-james-reign-of-the-king/.. thanks

  29. Bull's Sheet says:

    Now where are the Milwaukee Bucks? Their lone championship was led by Lew Alcindor and Big O. That is my favorite instant contender of all-time. I am disappointed not to see their names here. Great list though.

    • jwy of Singapore says:

      DALLAS vs MIAMI in FINALS

      though Miami Heat is lack of bench players
      RASHEED WALLACE PLS PLAY FOR MIAMI HEAT
      GET ALSO NEXT SEASON MARCUS CAMBY & KENYON MARTIN

      LET’S GO MIAMI HEAT !!!!!!