Thunder Becomes Fourth Western Conference Franchise to Win Conference Championship in Thirteen Years
Before Wednesday, June 6th, only three teams had won the Western Conference Championship since 1998—the Lakers (seven times), Spurs (four times), and Mavericks (two times). But that all changed when our OKC Thunder won over the Spurs.
Not only did they earn a spot in the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history, but it came after only four seasons and after defeating all three teams that had claimed the top spot in the West in the last thirteen years.
The Thunder kicked off the playoffs with a four-game sweep of the reigning NBA champs, the Dallas Mavericks. They then faced the LA Lakers, winning the first two games at home, losing one in LA, and finishing the series with two consecutive wins.
After losing the first two games of the conference finals in San Antonio, the determined Thunder went on to win the next four.
Over in the Eastern Conference, no franchise has won the conference title more than twice in thirteen years. The Pacers, ’76ers, Knicks, Nets, Cavs, Heat, Pistons, Magic, and Celtics have all held the title of Eastern Conference Champions since 1998. Considering some of those teams’ recent records, it may seem surprising that they once made it to the playoffs at all. That’s a major difference in the Eastern and Western conferences.
The West has more stability than the East. The Lakers, Spurs, and Mavs still have their cornerstones—Bryant, Nowitzki, and Duncan. Remember when Lebron played for Cleveland, Amare Stoudemire was a Phoenix Sun, and Deron Williams played for the Jazz?
Now Dwight Howard is looking to leave Orlando, and whatever happened to Allen Iverson? With all the team shuffling it’s no wonder the East has had nine conference champs in thirteen years.
With loads of young talent, arguably the most loyal fans in the league, and superstar Kevin Durant wanting to finish his career in OKC, the Thunder have a great chance of showing up in the NBA finals more than once in the next thirteen years.