How about someone else for a change?
Anyone else tired of the Celtics and Lakers? Or how about the Red Wings and Penguins? As the NBA and NHL playoffs roll along, those four teams remain alive after playing for their sports' championships last year. In addition, all four have rich traditions and championship pedigrees. They're not the only ones, though. Of the eight teams alive in the NBA playoffs, three have won titles. Of the eight alive in the NHL, six have won Stanley Cups. But wouldn't it be nice to see one of the titleless teams win this year? Here's a look at eight playoff teams that, doggone it, deserve to win a championship.
The Cavs might have the best chance of the have-nots to end their drought because they have the best player on the planet in LeBron James. In the league since 1970, the Cavs have been to the Finals only once, and that was two seasons ago, when they were swept by the Spurs. Give them an NBA championship, especially because LeBron likely will flee Cleveland eventually as a free agent.
Poor thing, it should've won a title when it had Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, but it couldn't get by the Rockets in 1995 in its only Finals appearance, and it had the dumb luck in the '90s of running into one of the NBA's greatest teams, Michael Jordan's Bulls. The Magic has made the postseason 11 of the past 16 seasons, including this year, but it has won only two playoff series since 1997. The second was last week.
The Nuggets have never won a championship. Not in the old ABA. Not in the NBA. Only once have they even reached the conference final, and that was in 1985, when the Nuggets, led by Alex English, were quickly dismissed in five games by the Lakers. Since then, the Nuggets were 15-40 in the postseason coming into this one.
This team was only a few minutes from taking a 3-0 advantage in the 2006 Finals against the Heat, then it choked away a 13-point lead, lost the game and didn't win again as Miami took the series 4-2. That has been the Mavs' lone brush with greatness. Led by Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs are in the postseason for the ninth consecutive season. Resiliency should count for something, shouldn't it?
The Caps have made the Stanley Cup final once: 1998, when they were blasted in four games by the Red Wings. But this could be the season they return. Washington's bugaboo usually is the Penguins, who have knocked the Caps out of the playoffs six times. But this season, with the NHL's best player, Alex Ovechkin, the Caps own a 2-0 second-round series lead against the Pens.
The Canucks entered the league in 1970 and have made the Cup final twice. Once, they were run over by the great Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s. The other time, they were the footnote when the Rangers won their first Cup in 54 years by beating the Canucks in seven games in 1994. Come on, these boys play in Canada, where hockey is religion. They deserve to celebrate with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Okay, I'm adding a team to this list that doesn't technically belong because the Blackhawks have brought three Stanley Cups to Chicago. But, gee whiz, the last time was 1961, long-ago enough to seem like forever, and it’s the longest drought in the NHL. An Original Six team, the Blackhawks have to go back to the 1930s for their other Cup wins: 1934 and 1938.