Karl Malone spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz, but never won a championship. In the biggest game of Karl Malone’s career, Michael Jordan stole the ball from him, and then hit the game-winning shot. Karl Malone sucks. Last year, Karl Malone decided he wanted to finally win a title before retiring, so he signed with the Lakers. Coached by former Bulls coach and Karl Malone nemesis Phil Jackson, the Lakers made it to the NBA Finals, where they of course lost. Man, does Karl Malone suck. Malone’s failure embarrassed him and the great sport of basketball, but his desperate team-switching and unsuccessful quest for a title is not without precedent.
The Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys
In the summer before the 1994 NFL season, the entire Buffalo Bills team signs with the Dallas Cowboys. Bruce Smith teams up with Charles Haley and Leon Lett to terrorize opposing quarterbacks, while Thurman Thomas provides a lift to the Cowboys’ already-potent offense. Still, the 49ers’ midseason acquisition of “Neon” Deion Sanders proves too much to overcome, and the reconfigured Cowboys fall in the NFC Championship Game. The Bills struggle to field a team, but still finish ahead of the Arizona Cardinals.
Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue
Growing increasingly depressed about his repeated defeats to IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, chessmaster Garry Kasparov decides to enroll in adult education classes to learn computer programming skills. His logical mind, honed by decades of rigorous chess play and study, takes to Visual Basic immediately. Soon, Kasparov is offered an entry-level programming job at IBM. He works hard, and after his two-month probationary period, Kasparov is in line for a 75-cent/hour raise. However, just days before his performance evaluation, Kasparov spills an entire 20-ounce Mountain Dew onto his workstation keyboard, ruining it. He does not receive the raise.
Gargamel and the Smurfs
Gargamel camps out next to Smurf Village for an entire year, in order to remain eligible for their intramural basketball team. He repeatedly stresses that his intentions are not to capture and destroy the Smurfs, but to come together to win a championship. Initially, the Smurfs have their doubts. It is not until the halfway point in the season that the Gargamel joins the starting lineup, at power forward. At first, it appears that Papa Smurf has found his elusive post presence. Gargamel is a diligent rebounder and an active defensive player. While not a good ballhandler, Gargamel presents a difficult matchup against most opposing forwards. The Smurfs win their final three games to advance to the playoffs.
Then it all falls apart. In the playoffs, Gargamel’s physical style of play comes under closer scrutiny from the officials. He picks up three early fouls, and is forced to the bench early in the second quarter. By halftime, the Smurfs are down fifteen points and spectators are openly criticizing the Gargamel acquisition, suggesting that the team could have used the clutch outside shooting of Vanity Smurf instead. Gargamel returns for the second half, but is ineffective in limited minutes.
Todd Helton and the Colofraudo Suckies
Frustrated by his position on last-place fantasy team Grady Little’s Boners, Todd Helton engineers a trade with the help of his agent. Even though the Colofraudo Suckies, the first baseman’s new team, are run by avowed Helton-hater Wade Barnett, they can’t resist acquiring the slugger in exchange for Johan Santana and Joe Borowski. Helton is excited to help pursue a fantasy baseball title, with his own real team again out of contention again. The Suckies flirt briefly with first place, but can’t stay on top as Helton picks up only 32 RBIs in the final two months of the year. Meanwhile, Borowski is a solid closer, and Santana wins his last eight decisions of the year. Wade Barnett burns third baseman Chris Stynes in effigy in his backyard.