The Last Lakers “Dream Team” And Other Failed Super Teams

Eric Urbanowicz
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Every year in at least one sport there’s one team that billed as a  “Super Team.”  They aren’t always successful. For every 2011 Miami Heat, there’s a 2012 Los Angeles Lakers. For this list, we’ll be taking a look at the biggest failed super teams. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they had a bad season. In some cases, there were teams that made the playoffs. One thing that remains constant: they didn’t live up to their potential or hype.


10. 2004 New York Yankees: The Yankees have always had a knack for adding players that could do the most damage, whether they’ve hit their prime or not. This team was a different story. In the offseason, the Bronx Bombers acquired a flurry of players, including outfielders Kenny Lofton and Gary Sheffield, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and pitchers Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. While the team went on to win 101 games, they ultimately failed when they were the victims in one of sports greatest collapses. They lost four straight games in the American League Championship series to the Boston Red Sox, after holding a three games to none lead. They remain low on the list because they still made the playoffs and had the best team in baseball. However, committing such a horrific feat and coming up short in the chase for a title, especially with the talent on this team, earns them a spot.


9. 2004 United States Men’s Basketball Team: In between two gold medal winning teams (2000 and 2008) sits the 2004 United States Olympic basketball team. Lead by head coach Larry Brown, the team featured a mix of veterans like Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson as well as young guns like LeBron James, Emeka Okafor and Carmelo Anthony. However, uncharacteristically of U.S. men’s teams, they would lose three games and finish with a bronze medal. The three losses were the most of any United States basketball team. This ultimately lead to an overhaul with the roster and changing coaches from Brown to Mike Krzyzewski.


8. 2015 San Diego Padres: There was a time when the Padres were feared. This looked like one of those years but instead they fell flat. San Diego would bring in many faces that were supposed to change the franchise including outfielders Will Myers, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp. They also landed pitchers James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Instead the team floundered, finishing in fourth place in the National League west. What made things even worse was that they traded away seven of the teams top 11 prospects to make those acquistions. Since then, the team has not been able to rebound in any sense, finishing no higher than fourth in the past two seasons and are on pace for another dismal finish.


7. 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets: When you acquire two future hall of famers like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, as well all as all stars like Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, you better do something. That was the problem with Brooklyn that year: a team that should have finished in the top half of the playoff standings instead finished in sixth place. Their biggest highlight was that they defeated the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. However, what really hurt the team was what the Nets gave up for Pierce and Garnett: a slew of first round picks to the Boston Celtics. This trade got them into the playoffs for one year but cost them nearly half a decade of mediocrity.


6. 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats: For a college team to make a list like this, something had to go awry. Following a season in which Kentucky finished 38-2 and won a National Championship, it was expected they would do it again. What happened instead was a blemish on head coach John Calipari’s record. Despite having talent like centers Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein, they would finish 21-12 and lose in the first round of the NIT Tournament to Robert Morris.


5. 2000 Washington Redskins: From winning the NFC east the season before, to finishing at .500 the next year, despite picking up tremendous talent: that’s how you make it onto this list. The Redskins had all the talent in the world. Hall of famers Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders along with future pro bowlers Lavar Arrington and Chris Samuels are just a few examples. This team would go from good to bad very quickly and it ultimately cost Turner his job. They finished third in a division that saw the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles make it to the post season.


4. 2012 Miami Marlins: The Marlins had a plan: they brought in controversial manager Ozzie Guillen, acquired former ace Mark Buehrle, stud pitcher Heath Bell and multi-time all star Jose Reyes. These moves would complement all star players Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton. The plan was to break away from their previous model of a low-budget strategy. Too bad it didn’t work. The Marlins would stumble out of the gate and never recover. It cost Guillen his job halfway through his first season and saw all the players they had acquired, as well as Ramirez, get traded within the next season.


3. 2011 Boston Red Sox: When a baseball team is compared to the 1927 New York Yankees lineup, that’s a lofty expectation to live up to. On paper, the 2011 Red Sox looked like they could possibly reach them. With stars like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Josh Beckett on the team, general manager Theo Epstein decided to go all in and acquire stars like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. This team “looked” good. However, dysfunction struck the team and they couldn’t hold it together. The nine game lead they had in the American League east evaporated and they finished in third place in the division. The next year, stories of pitchers drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games were leaked. It would cost manager Terry Francona his job and see Epstein move on to Chicago.


2. 2011 Philadelphia Eagles: The NFL’s “Dream Team” was supposed to be the the magnum opus for head coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman; instead it turned into a nightmare. After signing starting quarterback Michael Vick to a multiyear extension, they would back him up with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young. They also signed Ronnie Brown to back up LeSean McCoy. They would also acquire great veteran talents like defensive linemen Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins, offensive guard Evan Mathis and defensive backs Isaiah Truant, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Yet despite all these major moves to improve an already impressive roster, they finished at 8-8. The next year they would regress and it cost Reid his job. It took them years before they would rebound. While their Super Bowl team will be remembered, this team will always stick out in the memories of those who were around to experience it.


1. 2012 Los Angeles Lakers: What happens when you combine five all-star players? If you guessed finish in seventh place, lose in the first round of the playoffs and change coaches three times, you’d probably be called a liar. Either that or you simply watched this Lakers team. The changes started in July when the Lakers traded draft picks to the Phoenix Suns for former NBA MVP Steve Nash. A month later, they would acquire the highly decorated Dwight Howard to add to a roster that sported superstar Kobe Bryant along with decorated forwards Pau Gasol and Metta World-Peace. After starting the season 1 – 5, head coach Mike Brown was fired. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff was named interim coach but was quickly replaced by Mike D’Antoni. The team wouldn’t get off the ground and it only got worse when Bryant would miss time and attempt to play with a torn Achilles. They would make the playoffs as the seventh seed but would be swept by the Spurs. This team was supposed to compete with the Miami Heat who were sporting LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Eric Urbanowicz


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