5 Eastern Conference contenders that never got past LeBron James

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LeBron James dominated the Eastern Conference for almost a decade, making eight straight NBA Finals. Here are the five best teams who could never topple The King.

When LeBron James joined the Miami Heat a decade ago, he and his new teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh promised five or more NBA titles. They never quite got there, but LeBron’s stint in South Beach just extended his multi-year stranglehold on the Eastern Conference.

Several potential powerhouses had the bad luck of rising at the same time, eventually falling by the wayside because they couldn’t get past LeBron. Here is the best of the teams that couldn’t beat The King.

5. Chicago Bulls

One of the most-discussed aspects of James’ time in Miami is the 2011 NBA MVP race. The player who ultimately won was Derrick Rose, the 22-year-old hometown kid who spurred the Bulls toward the organization’s best season since the Michael Jordan era.

Rose’s Bulls would never rise to those heights again. Chicago won 62 games in 2011 and won Game 1 over the Heat at home. They lost four straight after that, then lost Rose after 39 games in 2011-12 to a devastating ACL tear, followed by a torn meniscus in 2013.

The tale of Rose’s career has been rehashed over the past two seasons but they were set to be the greatest challenger to the Heat prior to his injury. This is not just a story of Rose. It’s the story of Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, of Tom Thibodeau, and of how Chicago recuperated after missing out on James, Wade and Bosh in free agency and came out ready to compete in the East anyway.

That never happened, both because of injuries and because no other incarnation of these Bulls teams could touch James’ Heatles.

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