It is the growing sports epidemic of the 21st century, where being the best team in the regular season of any of the four major professional leagues has never meant so little for the postseason. In fact, not only are the trophy cases of such teams likely to be empty at playoffs' end, but these regular season champions are lucky if they get past their first playoff opponent.
It happened again on Thursday, with the NBA regular season champion Chicago Bulls losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, joining the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, NFL's Green Bay Packers and MLB's Philadelphia Phillies as the most recent examples of teams with the best record in the regular season failing to win the championship. It completes the first sports year ever where the top seed in all four leagues went one-and-done in the playoffs.
Of the last dozen NBA teams with the best regular season record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, only two have won an NBA title (Gregg Popovich's 2002-03 Spurs and the 2007-08 Celtics, featuring first-year teammates Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce). Compare that paltry 16.7 winning percentage to the previous 17 NBA seasons, when 10 teams with the best record (58.8 percent) won the title.
And this is hardly an NBA phenomenon, as the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball are seeing the same shift in competitiveness.