1995: Houston over Phoenix, 4-3, in the Western Conference semifinals. That whole thinking that Charles Barkley was always the bridesmaid and never the bride (sorry for that mental image) came from this series. Two years after losing in the Finals to Chicago, and a year after coughing up a 2-0 lead against Houston in the Western Conference semis, Phoenix did it again.
Whiffing this bad two years in a row to the same team has to be some kind of cosmic karma, or at least is a valid reason why any Suns players would begin to believe in it. Houston went on to win its second straight NBA title after going 7 in this series. What made this one bizarre was the ease with which Phoenix took games 1 and 2. The margins in those games were 22 and 24 points — in Phoenix. The last dagger for Phoenix was by its own hand. Kevin Johnson had hit 21 free throws in a row in this game, but missed 27 to take the lead late.
3. 1969, Boston over Los Angeles, 4-3, in the NBA Finals. This wasn’t your typical comeback because it wasn’t your typical rivalry. Rather it was — and still is — the rivalry, largely because of the animus from this series, which was the sixth time they’d met for an NBA title. This goes down as one of the tightest series of all time with the largest winning margin of 13, but the other five decided by an average of 5.2 points per game. That includes the gut-wrenching final for Lakers’ fans, a 108-106 loss.
Jerry West was the Finals MVP, little consolation for another failure in the Finals for him, especially with Boston being coached by player-coach Bill Russell.