More than any other sport, the NBA’s best teams end up winning the championship. The Chicago Bulls won six times with Michael Jordan in the ’90s. The Los Angeles Lakers won three consecutive years with Shaq and Kobe. LeBron James’s teams have won the NBA championship four of the last six years. However, on occasion, an underdog rises to the occasion and wins the NBA Finals. Just like under-the-radar players can come out of nowhere, teams can, too. As proof, here are the six times an underdog won the NBA championship.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016
This may be one of the most classic, recent examples of an underdog winning the NBA championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by James and Kyrie Irving, were the best team in the Eastern Conference last season. They had a 57-25 record; swept past the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks; and took out the Toronto Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. So what made them such an underdog? The Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors had the best regular-season record in NBA history in 2015–16, going 73-9 and rolling their way to the finals. They even took a 3-1 series lead over the Cavs, needing just one last victory to assure winning back-to-back championships. Not a problem, considering their talent level and the fact that they hadn’t lost three games in a row all season, right? Wrong. James averaged 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 9.7 assists, pushing the Cavaliers to win all three games, take the series, and give the underdog Cavs their first NBA championship.