The other day, while I read the article in which Jason Terry mocked J.R. Smith‘s recent championship guarantee, something regarding the whole situation hit me: Up until that moment, there really hadn’t been much of an outcry from anyone in the basketball world.
Smith had just absurdly promised the Knicks would win the 2014 NBA Finals — even going as far as to say that he is “100 percent sure” of it — and nobody really seemed to flinch.
It’s not because it wasn’t a stupid thing to guarantee. It was, clearly. No, the reason it didn’t stir too much controversy is because the sport and its fans have grown accustomed to these kinds of things. For some reason, different NBA players seem to make stupid guarantees all the time, and it’s always been that way.
So, when someone like J.R. Smith says the Knicks are going to win the championship, we understand that it’s crazy, we laugh about it, and then we move on. In fact, it’s become such a common theme that — in light of Smith’s comments — it seems appropriate to go back and remember some of the wackiest, least intelligent guarantees that have ever been uttered.
So, without any further ado, here are the top 10 most outrageous guarantees in NBA history.
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10. JOAKIM NOAH
Game 7 Guarantee, 2013 Eastern Conference First Round
I know, I know. I know what you’re thinking. “Wait! The Bulls won that Game 7 against the Nets, so how can this make the list?” Well, let’s quickly revisit the game.
In case you don’t remember, Brooklyn had all the momentum of the series after winning Games 5 and 6, and Game 7 was set to be played at Barclays Center. Combine those factors along with the fact that the Bulls were going to be without so many players — namely Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose — and it really didn’t feel like the best situation for Noah to be making a guarantee.
But, to his credit, he did follow through, unlike most on this list. Behind his 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, the Bulls captured an inspiring 99-93 win.
9. LeBRON JAMES
Guarantees Eight Titles
Okay, maybe this wasn’t a full-fledged guarantee, but it certainly felt like one.
It happened at the premature, obnoxious celebration that was thrown for him, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010. When asked about winning championships, and more than just one championship, LeBron responded by saying, “Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven.”
Before he, Wade and Bosh had even played together, he was talking about winning more than seven championships? LeBron said plenty of head-scratching stuff pre-2012, but this was probably the one that he would take back, if he could only take back one.
8. PAUL PIERCE, GLEN DAVIS
Guarantees Three Straight Wins In 2010 NBA Finals
“We ain’t coming back to L.A.!”
Those were the exact words that Paul Pierce yelled at Lakers fans late in Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals, when the Celtics were on their way to a victory that would even the series at a game apiece. What he meant was that his Celtics were going to win Games 3, 4 and 5 in Boston to win the NBA Finals without having to return to Los Angeles for a Game 6.
Of course, Pierce turned out to be wrong. The Celtics took just two out of three at the TD Garden, and were forced to make a return trip to the Staples Center. And, after the Celtics lost that Game 6 and had to prepare for a Game 7, you would think that they would have learned their lesson about guarantees. Wrong.
Prior to Game 7, Pierce’s teammate Glen Davis said, “We’ll come to play, we’ll compete and we’ll be there at the end holding the trophy.”
In a thrilling series-deciding game, the Lakers earned an 83-79 win behind 23 points from Finals MVP winner Kobe Bryant. Good call, Glen.
7. DERRICK ROSE
Guarantees Multiple Titles
As proved by his recent proclamation that he is the best player in the NBA despite having missed the entirety of the 2012-13 season, it’s clear Derrick Rose has plenty of confidence in himself. In fact, he’s so confident in his abilities that, in August of 2011, he swore he would win multiple NBA championships.
The guarantee came in an interview with HoopsHype, when he said, “I won’t be satisfied until I win a championship. I’m not satisfied at all. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I’m not going to win a championship. I’m going win multiple championships. It’s not a doubt in my mind.”
Really, Derrick? There’s not a doubt in your mind? Not with LeBron being only four years older than you? Not with Kevin Durant actually being a few days younger than you?
Look, I get it. Rose was coming off of an MVP season, so he was probably feeling pretty good about himself. But, with the level of competition in this league, he should be worried about getting that first ring, not about promising multiple titles.
6. LON KRUGER
Guarantees Playoffs In 2002-03 Season
Prior to the 2002-03 NBA season, head coach Lon Kruger went to the front office of the Atlanta Hawks to pitch a plan that would potentially stir interest in what was otherwise a pretty lowly franchise.
Kruger decided to guarantee that the Hawks would make the 2003 NBA Playoffs, and the team went as far as to promise each season ticket holder a $125 refund if it didn’t happen.
As you can probably guess, the playoffs weren’t part of Atlanta’s fate. The team endured yet another terrible season, and Kruger was fired in the middle of December.
5. CHARLES BARKLEY
1993 NBA Finals Guarantee
Charles Barkley thought that fate was on his side, that it was finally his time.
After winning Game 5 of the 1993 NBA Finals — a series between his Phoenix Suns and Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls — Barkley said, “God wants us to win the world championship.”
Maybe Barkley felt that way because Jordan and the Bulls had just won two straight championships, so if life were fair, it would technically be the Suns’ turn at winning. Well, either God doesn’t have control over NBA games or he didn’t want the Suns to win because Chicago won the series in six games to clinch a third straight title.
4. J.R. SMITH
Guarantees 2014 NBA championship
You already know what happened with this one. Just two weeks ago, while talking to a group of kid golfers, Smith said he is “100 percent sure” that the New York Knicks will win the championship in 2014.
To be fair to him, we don’t yet really know how this will turn out, since the 2013-14 season hasn’t even commenced. Oh, right. It doesn’t matter that the season hasn’t started, because we already know that the Knicks have no chance to win the championship this season, especially not with a guy like J.R. Smith being a key part of their team.
Maybe Smith just got the year wrong, and is assuming that LeBron will come to the Knicks following the 2013-14 season, and meant to guarantee that New York will win the 2015 championship.
Yep, sounds more plausible.
3. JASON TERRY
Guarantees 2013 NBA championship
As previously mentioned, the one guy to really lash out at J.R. for his title guarantee was Jason Terry. But, the irony in it all was that Terry did essentially the same thing just a year ago.
In an interview with Steve Burton of WBZ-TV in August of 2012, Terry discussed his green leprechaun tattoo, saying that “He’s spinning the Larry O’Brien trophy, which we will win this year.”
That didn’t work out so well, did it, Jason?
They never even had a chance to contend for a title. Other than Rajon Rondo, there was nothing exciting about the 2012-13 Boston Celtics prior to the start of the season. Ray Allen was gone, and while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are still champions and guys I’d want on my team, it isn’t exactly 2008 anymore.
The confidence is nice, Mr. Terry, but guaranteeing a title was beyond foolish.
2. BRANDON JENNINGS
Guarantees Bucks Will Beat Heat In Six
Remember how the Milwaukee Bucks made the playoffs in 2013 despite winning just 38 of 82 games, while the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks each missed the playoffs after compiling records of .500 or better? The Bucks were just terrible in 2013, and had no right to be in the postseason, getting in solely due to the fact that they are lucky enough to play in the Eastern Conference.
Okay, so we all knew that. Well, all of us except one person, who seemed to think otherwise, at least prior to the Bucks’ series with the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. That person was Brandon Jennings, who guaranteed that he and his teammates would defeat the defending-champion Miami Heat in six games.
His exact words: “I’m sure everybody is writing us off, but I see us winning the series in six.”
It was an all-time stupid thing to say. Sure, the Heat would have won the series regardless, and probably would have swept the Bucks anyway, but Jennings only added fuel to Miami’s fire with his comments. Remember Dwyane Wade’s reaction to it?
If nothing else, hopefully Brandon learned a valuable lesson. You don’t provoke the defending champions, especially not when they are an infinitely better team than your team.
1. DAN GILBERT
Guarantees Cleveland Title Before LeBron Title
Sorry this one isn’t in Comic Sans… but here you go:
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.
You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.
You can take it to the bank.
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.
The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
Sleep well, Cleveland.
Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….
I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:
DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….
I don’t think any further elaboration is needed.
What do you think?
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