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Tainted Championships

5 Jan

Usually, winning a national championship should be celebrated. It is a feat that not every franchise experiences and can be elusive to even the most decorated sports teams. However, some championship victories hold little to no significance in the pantheon of sports titles. These are the teams and people that won tainted championships.

Roger Federer – Had Federer been born in the late eighties or the early nineties and accomplished the same feats, he would easily be considered the best tennis player that ever lived. Federer won an all-time record 75 consecutive matches from 2003 to 2009 and holds just about every tennis record in Grand Slams that anyone could imagine. However, he had no competition. The only person in his class was Rafael Nadal who he handled easily in almost every match they played. Nadal was only competitive against Federer on clay courts. Had he been tested against Sampras, Agassi, or any of the tennis greats of the eighties and nineties, then his championship run would be more acceptable.

University of Southern California Football 2002-2005 – The University of Southern California Trojans are a football powerhouse that is rich in tradition. Their program has produced National Football League Hall of Fame players like O.J. Simpson and Bruce Matthews. USC has put more quality players into the NFL than any other team in the last 20 years. And, their teams in the mid-2000′s had been considered possibly one of the best college teams ever assembled. Now, the public knows why they have been so productive. USC or their biggest patrons have been paying recruits to attend their school. Reggie Bush, one of the biggest names in recent years from the school, and a Heisman winner (which has now been taken away) has been indicted for taking money from boosters. The ’04 championship that they won and their appearance in the the championship game the following year has been rescinded by the NCAA, college football’s governing body.

Manny Pacquiao – Similarly to Roger Federer’s career, Pacquiao’s career is marred by lack of competition. It is admirable that he has been able to move throughout weight classes and punish his competition, however he has been able to do so because the competitors are substandard. In the eighties, the lightweight division was littered with capable opponents and some Hall of Fame pugilists. In this era of the sweet science, there is only one boxer who has a chance to beat Pacquiao, and the two refuse to compromise their terms and fight.

Houston Rockets 1993-1995 – The Houston Rockets stole two championships in 1994 and 1995. Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player that ever lived, lost his father and promptly retired from basketball…for one year and a few months. The Rockets had Hakeem Olajuwon, possibly the most skilled center to ever play professional basketball. And honestly, they may have won the National Basketball Championship in the 1993-94 season because their team was a great mesh of athletic shooters, slashers, scorers, and defenders. However, even with the addition of Clyde Drexler, another Hall of Famer, the Rockets would have surely lost against the Chicago Bulls in 1995. Jordan and the Bulls beat Drexler in 1992 in the Finals with a loaded Trailblazer’s team, and the Rockets team that Drexler played on was too depleted by the trade that garnered him to compete with the talented Bulls. Houston should still be with out a NBA title.

New York Yankees 2009 – The Yankees has always stolen talent from around the league. They are notorious for signing phenomenal talent from small market teams and integrating them into the Yankees organization. New York scoffs at luxury taxes and fanatically pursues the players that can help them dominate Major League Baseball. On some levels, it is admirable that their management team is that dedicated to winning. But, in 2009, the bought a championship which is less than commendable. The championship squad’s regular starters consisted of only 3 players that actually played in the Yankees farm system. They enlisted the talents of at least 5 former All-Star players from other teams, including a former MVP, Alex Rodriguez and a Cy Young winner, C.C.Sabathia.

New England Patriots – Spygate ruined the mystique of the New England Patriots. They dominated teams in the early years of the new millennium with brutal, hard-hitting defense and intricate offense. Bill Bellichek was labeled a football genius because he dismantled opposing offenses and allowed Tom Brady, his quarterback, to pick apart defenses. Using cameras to film opposing teams while in practice is not only morally appalling, but also undermines the spirit of gamesmanship. Football players are thought to be the ultimate competitors. They face each other man to man, eleven guys matched against another eleven to see who is better. The Patriots were not imposing on defense because they had better players or stronger determination. They were dominant on defense because they knew their opponents plays, packages, and personnel. Their coaches recognized plays almost as quickly as the cadences were called in the huddles. Not surprisingly, the New England Patriots won 3 championships during the time of Spygate and none since it.

Vitali and Vladimir Klitschko – The Klitschko brothers have dominated the heavyweight division of boxing for the last five years. Together they hold every belt in the heavyweight division, but neither of them has fought a boxer of note. They both intimidate their competition with superior size and the eastern European style of boxing with stiff jabs and harsh hooks. And aggravatingly, the brothers have vowed to never fight one another which is the fight that could unify the belts and reinvigorate boxing.

San Antonio Spurs 1999 – In 1999, the national Basketball Association participated in its first lockout since the the Golden Age of Basketball in the eighties and nineties fueled by Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. Players and owners could not agree to terms, so the NBA played a shortened season of 50 games. The three-point line was also was also shorter from 1994 to 97, moved from 23.9 feet to 22.0 feet. Once, it was moved back to 23.9 feet, some of the same shooters that flourished with the shorter line kept shooting unsuccessfully. But, the Spurs had pure shooters that continued to make shots and prohibit teams from doubling their twin towers, Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Coupled with a stifling defense, the San Antonio Spurs won their first championship in a fake season.

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