Imagine if Rocky tripped on the top stair and never got to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That's basically what happened to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night when they lost Game 7 – at home and after leading the series 3 games to 1 – to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While the Bay Area is in shock, they might be able to find solace in knowing they're not the first "best team ever" to stumble on the top stair.
The Warriors, who went 73-9 to break the 1995-96 Bulls' record, join the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Red Wings and New England Patriots as the best of the best to not win a championship.
1995-96 Detroit Red Wings
They set an NHL record by going 62-13-7 in the regular season only to lose in six games in the conference finals to the Colorado Avalanche.
Note: The 1976-77 Montreal Canadians won 60 games and own the record for most points with 132. The Red Wings had 131 points in 95-96.
2001 Seattle Mariners
By this time, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson were all out of town, so the Mariners relied on guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Edgar Martinez and Freddy Garcia to win. And win they did. Those Mariners went 116-46 to set a regular-season record. But they lost 4 games to 1 in the American League Championship Series to the Yankees.
Our own Rod Simons was covering the Mariners in Seattle at the time. He knows just how devastated Seattleites were/are.
"It was an amazing stretch," Simons recalls. "The M’s drew 3.5 million fans and the city of Seattle could taste the Series. When the Yankees hammered the M’s it was indescribable. Baseball fans still haven’t recovered."
2007 New England Patriots
Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes, 23 of them to Randy Moss, but all anyone remembers about this season is David Tyree's helmet catch in the Super Bowl to help the Giants pull the upset.
Of course, the 1972 Dolphins went 14-0 and finished the perfect season.
At the end of the day, Vikings fans can rest a little easier knowing that some teams have fallen harder than those Purple and Gold teams from 1998 and 2009.