The Los Angeles Lakers are the talk of the NBA for all the wrong reasons this season, and things aren't getting any better for the team tabbed to be one of the best. Though they've started to put things together, they are still far from the dominant team they were tabbed to be.
Where do the Lakers rank among 10 most underachieving sports franchises, often deemed "superteams," who failed to perform when it mattered most? Whether self-glossed as much or picked to win it all by experts, these teams didn't get it done:
10. 2010-11 Miami Heat
Not three, not four, not five -- not even one. The infamous "decision" cost LeBron James his squeaky-clean reputation and created a mountain of hatred against the Miami Heat. The dancing introduction and fog machine antics further cemented the Heat as public enemy No. 1 outside of Miami.
It all ended with an unceremonious NBA Finals exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, who won the series, 4-2. James in particular was relatively unimpressive in the playoffs, posting averages of 23.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists after averaging 26.7-7.5-7.0 during the regular season.
Not all was lost, however, as the Heat came back the following season and took it all in 2011-12.
9. The 2011 New York Jets
The Jets were stacked with talent in 2011, and head coach Rex Ryan displayed the bravado that he's become known for by guaranteeing that they were going to win the Super Bowl. They went 8-8, and missed the playoffs. Mediocrity has defined them ever since.
8. 2007 New England Patriots
Sometimes, a simple phrase tells an entire story -- "18-1." That was the overall record of the 2007 New England Patriots, who were one of the most dominant teams in sports history until the game that mattered most was flipped upside down.
A perfect regular season meant nothing once perhaps the best team in NFL history fell to the New York Giants, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII. The match made in heaven between Randy Moss and Tom Brady would never come to fruition with a championship.
7. 2011 Philadelphia Eagles
After signing Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin and a host of other notable free agents, another free agent signee, Vince Young, tabbed his new team a "dream team". A 3-6 start and an 8-8 finish followed, and the Eagles missed the playoffs.
Led by quarterback Michael Vick a season removed from winning the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Award, a host of turnovers doomed the Eagles. They finished last in the league in turnover differential at -14.
6. 2012 Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels made no secret to the baseball world that they were chasing a World Series by signing free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to monster $240 million and $77.5 million contracts in the offseason. The Angels already boasted a pitching staff that included ace Jered Weaver and a lineup that featured a resurgent Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo.
The Angels got off to a horrendous 10-17 start. Pujols endured the worst slump of his professional career. If it wasn't for the incredible lift that rookie sensation Mike Trout gave the team, then the Angels would not have had a chance at the postseason, which they missed anyway after being among the favorites to win it all.
5. 2006 San Diego Chargers
In Marty Schottenheimer's final season as head coach, the 14-2 Chargers, led by LaDainian Tomlinson, hosted the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoffs and lost in heartbreaking fashion at home, 24-21. With roughly eight minutes left in the game, Tom Brady made a rare mistake and threw a fourth down interception to safety Marlon McCree. McCree then made a devastating error and fumbled the return, setting up the game-winning drive for New England.
Schottenheimer was fired following the postseason, and the Chargers lost in the conference championship game the following year after an 11-5 season under Norv Turner.
4. 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers
With three recent NBA titles under their belt in 2000, 2001 and 2002, the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers featured four future Hall-of-Famers in their starting lineup in Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Shaquille O'Neal. When Payton and Malone signed as free agents, the talk of the town was that L.A. would roll to a fourth championship in five years.
With legendary head coach Phil Jackson at the helm, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.
But after going 12-5 in their first three postseason series, the Lakers were stunned by the energetic Detroit Pistons, 4-1, in the NBA Finals. The next season, the Lakers went 34-48 and missed the playoffs, the only time in the last decade they've done so.
3. 2008-09 San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks had the best season in their history with a record of 53-18-11 under head coach Todd McLellan. Led by stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they seemed a sure thing to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals and represent the Western Conference.
But a surging No. 8 seed Anaheim Ducks team shocked San Jose with a 4-2 first-round upset in the playoffs. The Sharks lost in the conference finals in the next two seasons and appeared to remain affected by the disappointment of 2008-09.
2. 2008 Detroit Tigers
The 2008 Detroit Tigers were thought to be favorites to win the AL Central Division and the World Series, but they got off to a dismal 0-7 start that included a series sweep by the Kansas City Royals. The Jim Leyland-led team had star power, record attendance and all of the fan fare that went along with it, but for whatever reason couldn't put it together.
They finished 74-88 and failed to make the postseason.
1. 2011 Ryder Cup
The 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club was supposed to be the United States' opportunity to take back the cup after years of European dominance. The U.S. had a 10-6 lead going into Sunday's matches, needing only 4.5 points to emerge with the win on home turf.
But the Europeans, led by Ian Poulter's inspiring play, pulled off the incredible comeback. The veterans from the American team were especially disappointing. Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk blew leads on the final day, while Steve Stricker three-putted on the 17th hole in his final match to effectively lose the cup.
Adding insult to injury was the fact that Stricker is known for his putting ability. Also of note was the fact that he and Tiger Woods were 0-3 as a tandem. The loss for Team USA will go down as one of the most epic collapses in sports history.
The 2012-13 Lakers are off to a dismal start without question, but the jury is still out on where they finish among these historic disappointments. At this point, if things continue to spiral downward, they can easily trump most of the teams on this list given the expectations that come with adding players like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and starting four All-Stars when at full strength.
Contrary to popular belief, the Lakers don't have a lot of time to figure things out. They've dug a considerable hole, and at 11-14, they have a lot of ground to make up. If the playoffs started on December 17, they would miss the postseason, which would be a disaster. It's hard to imagine this team as constructed going to the NBA Finals and competing with the league's elite, but there's still a long way to go to see what they can become.
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He contributes regularly to SB Nation and Examiner.com and is the Editor of Sports Out West.
You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.
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