OK, so this squad never got especially close to a Cup but that's part of what makes their completely failed dynasty perplexing. Brett Hull - Al MacInnis - Chris Pronger - Adam Oates. They had all four of those HoF-caliber performers for big chunks of their primes but could never really put together even a deep playoff run. Perhaps those teams weren't constructed well or simply lacked goaltending, but it still is pretty stunning those guys didn't break through the Dallas/Detroit/Colorado gamut at least once.
Still, despite those logos, it was pretty much impossible to root against the Sabres until they played against your favorite team.
Sadly, a big part of what made those Sabres team so difficult to play against (rolling line after line of quality forwards) is what made them so difficult to sustain in a small market, salary cap world. Their most important forwards went on to be grossly overpaid; with Briere and Drury going to other teams and Vanek staying in Buffalo for a crap ton of money.
The Barkley Era and Steve Nash Phoenix Suns
This one hits close to home. As a kid, I didn't choose sports teams based on geographical convenience but rather who captured my immature imagination. Naturally, the brash, bald and bold Charles Barkley captured my attention like no basketball player before him.
Those Barkley-Kevin Johnson-Thunder Dan Suns teams were outrageously fun to watch. If you want to find the key to my heart, make sure that you find a solid and charismatic coach, an explosive and quirky offense and a largely terrible defense. Is that a formula for a championship? Almost definitely not. But perfect defense and coaching usually kills fun (see: Devils, New Jersey and Spurs, San Antonio).
After Barkley was traded away, I thought that a basketball team would never captivate me in the same way again. Jason Kidd lobbing alley oops to Shawn Marion was entertaining but ... eh. Stephon Marbury nearly killed basketball for me.
Just as I thought I'd never care again, floppy haired banger of Elizabeth Hurley Steve Nash came along and captained the priceless "Seven Seconds or Less" Phoenix Suns. And it was good.
You can conspiracy theorize all you want, but those teams ultimately fell short because they didn't want to pay to get to the top and because they couldn't play defense. So what? They were a joy to watch and I miss them terribly (since Steve Kerr murdered them with terrible decisions).
Seriously, though, fuck you Steve Kerr.
The Webber-Ugly Dude Sacramento Kings
Much like the Nash Suns, the Chris Webber-Mike Bibby-hairy European Sacramento Kings were a lot of fun to watch. Also a lot like those Suns teams, the Kings probably had as many flaws as strengths.
If nothing else, the Kings will always make me smile when I remember that Shaq referred to Vlade Divac as "a flopping bitch." Good times.
The Cuban-Nowitzki Mavericks
It's crazy how close that team came to a championship before getting absolutely screwed in the Finals. But let's face it, they're done.
The Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills
No sense kicking this dead horse anymore. No sense bringing up Scott Norwood's name. That would just be mean.
Late 80s Bengals/Browns
The state of Ohio actually came pretty close to winning a Super Bowl. For the Browns, it was their epic choking and John Elway that kept them from glory. For the Bengals, it was Joe Montana.