Given how the Los Angeles Lakers' 2022-23 season began, making it to the Western Conference Finals is a success in and of itself. Nonetheless, for a LeBron James-led team, making the conference finals doesn't exactly qualify as a rousing triumph, especially when their season ended on a blocked layup attempt en route to a sweep at the hands of Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
Going down 3-0 in an NBA playoff series is essentially a death knell. No team has ever come back from that big of a deficit, but the Lakers gave it their all in an attempt to overcome the odds. But the odds may be especially stacked against them.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Lakers, throughout the franchise's storied history, haven't won a single playoff game while facing a 3-0 deficit. Following their crushing 113-111 loss to the Nuggets on Monday night to end their season, they have now gone winless in nine tries, which is the record for most losses without a win while down 3-0 in the postseason.
LeBron James may catch the most flak since this is his first time to be on the receiving end of a playoff sweep. However, it's not like he's alone on the list of Hall of Famers who've been swept. Even other championship-winning Lakers stars have found it difficult to overcome a 3-0 deficit.
In 1977, it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who struggled to carry the Lakers to winning ways, suffering a sweep at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. In 1999, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs made quick work of Shaquille O'Neal and young Kobe Bryant in the second round.
Meanwhile in 2011, it was Bryant's turn as the team's undisputed best player to suffer a sweep, this time marking the end of the Lakers' championship defense with a surprisingly lifeless display against the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
Some fans may accuse the Lakers of lacking the “dog” in them while down 3-0 in a series. However, facing that kind of deficit may just be an indication that the Lakers' opponent is simply the superior basketball team.
Whatever the case may be, the Lakers' 0-9 record is nothing to be proud of.