The Lakers endured multiple declines over the years. They became the best team in the NBA after the fall of the Chicago Bulls. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant shot the franchise to glory. But then they faced a period of rebuilding alongside the rise of the Golden State Warriors. Next, they brought LeBron James to the West Coast. Signing the best player of his generation was a smart move because they made it back to the playoffs.
This didn’t produce the immediate results that they expected. But in 2020, the Lakers finally got another elusive ring. Unfortunately, there were problems behind the scenes and these came to a head over the following year. The decline was rapid because they limped into the first round of the postseason. It ended in traumatic circumstances as the Warriors put a beating on the reigning champions (via New York Times).
Leeds enjoyed an astonishing rise in the early 2000s. They signed outstanding players like Robbie Fowler and even made it to the Champion’s League semi-final. But their decline was rapid and mesmerizing in equal measure. ‘Doing a Leeds’ entered the vernacular of soccer after they suffered a shocking meltdown. Financial woes afflicted the club as debts spiraled out of control.
In 2003, just three years after their greatest moment, Leeds suffered relegation to the Championship. But it got even worse. Their wage bill was far too high, forcing the club to sell almost all of their players. Their replacements were of much lower quality and the club dropped another division to League One (via Sky Sports). In the end, it took the team almost 20 years to rebuild and find their way back to the Premier League again.
Bill Belichick transformed the Patriots into the most efficient and ruthless machine in the NFL. His team picked up six Super Bowls over the course of 20 seasons. After selecting a young quarterback named Tom Brady in the sixth round, the franchise soared to new heights. They also became the most hated team in the league because of their cheating scandals. Then, the decline set in.
In 2020, the team missed the postseason for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, they hadn’t lost more than three games in a row since 2002 (via FOX Sports). After Tom Brady departed, the team immediately went into transition. This meant sitting through a turgid year before the next draft window. Luckily, Mac Jones fell into their laps so the future may be bright. But even the very best team can go into decline.
Sir Alex Ferguson turned Manchester United into a winning machine. He became the most successful soccer coach in the world with more trophies than any other manager (via The Mirror). United won 13 Premier League titles during his long reigns and countless other accolades. But then he left in 2013 and the team went into a decline steeper than Mt. Everest.
Fergie managed United for 26 years. But in the seven seasons since his retirement, the club went through another four coaches. They lost their identity and wasted countless millions on unsuitable players. Furthermore, the Glazer family concentrated on their NFL franchise, the Buccaneers, and allowed the club facilities to decline. It was remarkable because it all fell apart so quickly.
The Bulls were almost unstoppable throughout the 1990s. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led this team to glory and were an unstoppable force. But all good things come to an end. In this case that meant over 20 years of irrelevance as the franchise suffered a horrific decline. M.J. made them into one of the most iconic teams in global sports but they became a shadow of themselves.
Jerry Krause was a canny businessman but he rubbed some of the team members up the wrong way. An exodus of legends occurred and finally, Krause departed too. Then, came one of the most depressing eras in Bulls’ history. It’s safe to say that the evil duo of GarPax should never set foot in the Windy City again (via The Ringer). Only time will tell if they can revive memories of their past glories one day.