NBA Playoffs: The quick history of superstar sweeps – FOX Sports

The Boston Celtics broke out their brooms as they swiftly swept the Brooklyn Nets out of their home gym on Monday, closing a four-game pounding with a 116-112 Game 4 victory.

It was a shocking end to a rollercoaster season for Brooklyn — not solely because of its first-round exit — but the way in which it was forced out of the postseason.

It was the first time stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had suffered a sweep in the postseason. But as much as that might sting for the dominant duo, they’re hardly the first top-tier players to suffer such a fate.

“Of all the legends, I probably got swept the most,” Shaquille O’Neal said Monday night on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” following the loss. “When you’re a superstar, they expect you to win. My father used to bring me home [and say], ‘What happened? Shut up! There’s no excuses. You have to get better.’ I got swept six times in my 19 years.”

In fact, O’Neal is far from the only Hall of Famer who has been on the wrong end of a sweep. The list includes: 

Michael Jordan

— Swept twice by Boston, 3-0, in 1986 and 1987

— Swept another team nine teams

— Was never swept in a best-of-seven series

LeBron James

— Swept twice, once in the 2007 NBA Finals vs. San Antonio Spurs and again in the 2018 Finals by the Golden State Warriors

— Has swept another team 12 times

— 12 sweeps in best-of-seven playoff series are the most by any player in NBA history

Kobe Bryant

— Swept by three separate teams

— Swept seven opponents

Shaquille O’Neal

— Swept by six different opponents

— Swept an opponent eight times

— Tied with Pau Gasol for the most times being swept of any player in NBA history

Magic Johnson

— Swept by two opponents

— Swept another team 12 times (some of these sweeps were in best-of-five series, which is why LeBron James holds the record for seven-game-series sweeps)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

— Swept three separate times

— Swept another team 13 times (not all were seven-game series)

Larry Bird

— Swept by another team once (1983 East semis vs. Milwaukee Bucks)

— Swept another team six times

Charles Barkley

— Swept by another team once (1989 East first round, 3-0, to New York Knicks)

— Swept another team five times

Wilt Chamberlain

— Swept by another team once (1961 East semis, 3-0, to Syracuse Nationals)

— Swept another team two times

— Was never swept in a best-of-seven series

For what it’s worth, Durant and Irving have plenty of elite company when it comes to being swept in the playoffs.

And unlike the men on this list (excluding James), they’ve got a chance at title glory in the future.


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