NBA: The Teams That Went Decades Without Going to the Finals

3. New York Knicks [tie]

Mark D. Phillips/AFP/Getty Images

Mark D. Phillips/AFP/Getty Images

  • Years: 21
  • Drought Period: 1973-1994

The New York Knicks would make it to the NBA Finals during the 1972-73 season. That group, led by Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, and Willis Reed, came out of the conference as the East’s No. 2 seed. In a battle of storied franchises, the Knicks took on the Los Angeles Lakers — a team with Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain — and managed to defeat their Western foes in five games. After that championship, New York would have to wait over two decades before it had the chance to compete for another one.

During this 21-year drought — prior to the 1993-94 season — the Knicks would only make it to the playoffs on 12 separate occasions. Unfortunately, this franchise would only play in two Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, the curse ended during the 1994 postseason, when the team led by Patrick Ewing [pictured above] and John Starks got over the hump by besting the Indiana Pacers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Still, this run wouldn’t end cheers and champagne, as the Knicks would fall to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

 Boston Celtics [tie]

  • Years: 21 years
  • Drought Period: 1987-2008

Like the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics would also suffer through a 21-year drought between NBA Finals appearances. This had to be difficult on a fan base and organization that were so used to success. After all, this was a franchise that won eight consecutive titles from 1959-66; a feat so impressive, that even legend Bill Russell didn’t realize it until much later. Yet, this organization had to wait 21 years — following its defeat in the 1987 NBA Finals — before it was able to not only reach the last series, but finally add another banner to the rafters.

With Doc Rivers calling the shots, the new Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen took the Eastern Conference by storm. With energy, intensity, and unrivaled chemistry, this group led the charge to the 2008 NBA Finals. After dismantling Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, the Larry O’Brien championship trophy, once again, belonged to the Boston Celtics.

In the end, this team taught us a valuable lesson: “Anything is possible.

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