AC Milan was the best soccer team on the planet in 2005. Their lineup included all-time-greats like Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, and Paolo Maldini. Analysts favored them to win the Champion’s League when they blazed their way to the final. They faced a resurgent Liverpool in Instanbul and expected to win easily against the Reds.
On paper, Milan was a much better team. They blazed to a 3-0 lead in the first half and it looked like the game was over (via The Guardian). But then Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks ever. Milan stumbled and fell flat on their faces before a total collapse. In the end, Liverpool won the game after a penalty shootout. It was high drama and a wasted opportunity for Milan.
The Suns blazed their way to the NBA Finals in 2021. Many fans believed this was Chris Paul’s redemption. as he had never won a championship ring. This was also a great opportunity for the Suns to finally break their streak of postseason heartbreak. They never won the title before but one Greek star and his team stood in their way.
Phoenix faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals and soared to an early lead (via Sporting News). They won the first two games and fans were talking about a blowout. However, the Bucks rebounded with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge. ‘The Greek Freak’ put on a glorious Game 6 display to seal the rings for his team. It was a devastating blow for the Suns and Paul yet the Bucks earned their victory.
Straight Blast Gym rose to prominence alongside Conor McGregor. The Dublin MMA team had several fighters on the UFC roster. In McGregor’s words, they were here to “take over.” Meanwhile, head coach John Kavanagh won plaudits for his role in the team’s success. But in recent years, SBG Ireland has lost credibility. Gyms rise and fall with the success of their fighters.
McGregor’s failure to evolve is one reason why Kavanagh’s reputation took a dent. Meanwhile, non-Irish fighters like Brad Katona and Johnny Walker suffered losses after training in Dublin. Kavanagh also had a dispute with Cage Warriors promoter Graham Boylan, preventing his fighters from competing on one of the biggest promotions in Europe. Also, high-profile coaches departed and accused Kavanagh of a lack of loyalty (via MMA Fighting).
This was a massive season for the Cavs but it didn’t end well. They fell flat on their faces after securing the best regular-season record in the league. With an aging Shaquille O’Neal, this was LeBron’s final season before his move to Miami (via Bleacher Report). If they won the Finals in 2009 he might even have stayed. The entire course of NBA history may have been different.
However, they crashed out in the conference semifinals against the Celtics. Fans dispute whether or not Cleveland was a super team. Sure, there were several aging athletes on their roster. But their 61-21 record proved their ability to win every week. There was no good reason to lose to the Celtics because on paper the Cavs were much better.
Barcelona is one of the most famous teams on the planet. The Catalan giants attract some of the best players in the world. Meanwhile, they enjoyed the services of Lionel Messi for almost two decades. But he departed after the club fell flat on their faces. The ineptitude behind the scenes was something remarkable. They lacked a coherent vision and struggled financially.
Fans still expected Barcelona to be competitive on the field but they felt apart. They flopped in the Champion’s League and failed to contend in La Liga. It was disappointing for their fans because they stuck with them through thick and thin. Meanwhile, Messi signaled his intention to leave after carrying the team for so long. This was a massive blow because of his status as an all-time great (via Sky Sports).
The Steelers stunned in 2020 after starting the season 11-0. Sure, they weren’t exactly a super team but they still found ways to win every game. That was until they fell flat and went on an inglorious losing streak. A lot of that was down to their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The quarterback had some of the worst games of his life as the Steelers lost four of their last five games.
Finally, they crashed out in the Wild Card round. The Cleveland Browns humiliated Pittsburgh as Roethlisberger played horribly (via CBS Sports). All of their wins through the first 11 games meant nothing now. To be fair, they flattered to deceive as they snuck their way through those games. But it was still crazy that a team with such a long winning streak could have such a meltdown.
The Lakers had one of the most stacked rosters in their history in 2003. Shaquille O’Neal was at the height of his powers while Kobe Bryant was reaching an elite level. Karl Malone even left the Jazz to secure an elusive ring before retirement. They even had defensive wizard Gary Peyton. This was a super team in every sense of the term but they still didn’t win the championship.
They made it to the Finals but fell flat in the series. The Pistons almost swept them as they won 1-4 overall. It was a strange year for the Lakers because Malone’s presence in the team was divisive. He made headlines after appearing to hit on Bryant’s wife (via Sportscasting). The Lakers had multiple future Hall of Famers in their ranks while the Pistons only had one.
United fell into disarray after the departure of long-serving coach Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. After running through managers, the front office finally settled on former player Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. He helped them to a second-place finish in 2020 and there was hope of continued progression. They brought in young stars like Jadon Sancho as well as team icon Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, it soon became clear they weren’t up to the task. A humiliating defeat to Liverpool set the wheels in motion. Then they fell flat in a crushing loss to lowly Watford. This signaled the end of Solksjaer’s tenure. United fans felt devastated because the team didn’t meet their expectations. They faced another season in the wilderness without any kind of identity (via The Times).
The Nets tried to build a super team in 2019 but things didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Sure, they brought most of the components to New York but they couldn’t get them all on the court. They signed the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden over two years. However, injuries prevented their stars from making the kind of impact they dreamed of.
Brooklyn improved in 2020 and enjoyed better luck. They made it to the postseason with most of their roster intact. First, they took on the Celtics and won the series. Then they came up against the Bucks in the Conference semifinals. Milwaukee was the eventual overall winner but Brooklyn still felt disappointment. They had one of the most stacked rosters in the league and still couldn’t win (via Sportskeeda).
Everybody associates the Yankees with winning at all costs. They’re also capable of extraordinary meltdown. The New York franchise was disappointing in 2020 after they limped into the Wild Card round. Too many of their star players failed to produce and this infuriated the fanbase. They want their athletes to show passion, but the Yankees failed to do this.
They swept the Indians before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were eventual World Series finalists but the Yankees didn’t test them. The Yankees lost the series across five games of insipid performances. These defeats left critics questioning the future of the franchise as well as Aaron Boone’s tenure as manager (via ESPN).
The Clippers are an organization familiar with pain. After all, Los Angeles is a purple-and-gold town. For generations, supporting the Clippers was a curse. The Lakers were dominant and won 17 titles while the Clippers never even made it past the third round. However, 2020 was supposed to be different. After acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the franchise had true star power.
That’s why it was so disappointing when they lost in the conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets. Their long-suffering fans had high hopes but the Clippers couldn’t match them (via L.A. Mag). They fell flat at the worst possible time. After winning three of the first four games, they lost in seven. It was an appalling collapse but one the world saw coming.
2020 was supposed to be an exciting year for America’s Team. Mike McCarthy arrived as their new head coach. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott was emerging as a top quarterback. He had exciting weapons like proven Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper and rookie CeeDee Lamb. Their fans hoped they would be contenders even if they didn’t win the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t even come close. They lost Prescott during Game Five after he fractured his ankle. This was a devastating blow because they lost one of their leaders as well as an elite athlete. Andy Dalton stepped up as a replacement but had injury problems too. Meanwhile, their other performers failed to deliver and the season fell flat. It was another wasted year (via USA Today).
Liverpool won the league for the first time in 3o years in 2019. The global health crisis prevented them from celebrating in front of their fans. But their passionate supporters hoped to see them repeat the feat the following season. The team gambled early after the departure of Dejan Lovren. The center-back wasn’t a guaranteed starter but he provided valuable depth. This was a turning point in their year.
Star defender Virgil Van Dijk suffered a horror leg break against Everton. Meanwhile, their other defenders also had injury woes. This forced Jurgen Klopp to put his players out of position and to play unproven youngsters. Ironically, they started the year well but fell flat after the loss of Van Dijk. They scraped their way into the top four and secured Champion’s League qualification (via The Guardian).
NFL teams constantly look toward the future. Nothing obsesses them more than drafting the next franchise quarterback. However, the Rams took a different approach in 2021. They tried to assemble the strongest roster possible by trading away valuable draft picks. First, they secured the services of Matthew Stafford from the Lions. In the middle of the year, they acquired Von Miller from the Broncos.
This was supposed to be a super team with the ability to win immediately (via The Guardian). They started the season strong with seven wins in their first eight games. But then Stafford suffered a decline with pick-sixes all over the place. He threw three in three weeks. To put that into perspective, Aaron Rodgers has only thrown three his entire career. The Rams have time to turn their season around but a three-game losing streak is still ominous.