We all know the drama behind an NBA story goes beyond the 94-foot hardcourt. This is why The Last Dance has given us such an eye-opening perspective on what really goes on behind the scenes of a team’s championship run.
In the 10-part series, we saw how Michael Jordan dramatically lead his Chicago Bulls to their sixth and final NBA title. The grit, the passion, the drama; it all sheds some light on the complexity of each story, team, and athlete in any championship run.
Here are three other NBA championship teams who need their own ‘Last Dance’ docuseries.
2011 Dallas Mavericks
The 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks had one of the most interesting NBA championship runs in recent history.
The Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavs ended the regular season with a 57-25 record. The Mavs beat the Portland Trailblazers in the first round of the playoffs, swept the Lakers in the second round, and rolled past the big (or maybe medium) three of Russel Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant of the young Oklahoma City Thunder in the semis.
This put Dallas in an interesting matchup against Miami Heat, a virtual rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals which The Heat won in six games. Five years later, two totally different teams met in the finals. Miami just formed a big three with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, and the Mavs now have some key vets like Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic, and Tyson Chandler surrounding Dirk. The Mavs ended up winning the series in six games.
2004 Detroit Pistons
Another intriguing NBA championship team was the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons. Starting their year off with one the biggest busts in recent NBA Draft history in Darko Milicic as the second overall pick, head coach Larry Brown was able to rally the Pistons and finish the regular season in the 3rd spot of the Eastern Conference.
After a mid-season acquisition of Rasheed Wallace, the team seemed to have built an all-around balanced team with Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and All-Star Ben Wallace. A successful playoff run, including a triple-overtime thriller against the Indiana Pacers in the second round, led the team to a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers who were the favorites to win it all that year.
The Pistons dominated the Lakers in five games with Billups earning a Finals MVP nod and ultimately ending the Kobe-Shaq era of the Lakers.
2019 Toronto Raptors
How can we forget last year’s Cinderella story?
The 2018-2019 Toronto Raptors won it all after a rather busy off-season. They traded franchise player DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard who just had a controversial ending to his time with San Antonio. It seems that President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri knew what he had in mind moving key pieces in the off-season and eventually trading for Kawhi (and teammate Danny Green) as well as other key mid-season moves such as landing Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Head coach Nick Nurse alongside team captain Kyle Lowry, rising star Paskal Siakam and the rest of the new Raptors, the team ended up in the second spot of the Eastern Conference. The highlight of their playoff run was their Game 7 win against the Philadelphia 76ers in which Kawhi knocked down one of the most talked-about buzzer-beaters in NBA history. The team went on to meet the defending champions and the dominant Golden State Warriors who had a mighty foursome of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and of course 2017 Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
The Warriors, after losing both Thompson and Durant to season-ending injuries, eventually bowed down to the underdog Raptors in six games.