5 Star Studded Teams That Lost In Historical Upsets

Zohaib Ahmed
No matter how big and strong a side is, when it comes to sports, no one is immune to the odd upset.

kentucky wildcats

College basketball has probably never seen a more dominant team than the 2014-15's Kentucky Wildcats. Heading into the post-season, coach John Calipari's side has won all 34 of their opponents by an average of almost 21 points.

Simply speaking, when they take the court, it's boys against men. Hence, the general consensus is that the Wildcats won't just win the 2015 NCAA Tournament, they will hammer their opponents. It could be ugly. Such is their reputation that opposition coaches believe not even Jesus could save them.

While we're not sure if a divine intervention is the answer here, we can certainly point out to a sporting phenomenon that has led to slaying of even bigger giants than Kentucky. It's called upset.

Down below are five instances when a sports superstar/team entered a competition with extraordinary talent, fearsome reputation and favorable circumstances, but still got beaten by a lesser opponent.

1. Rafael Nadal (2009)

rafael nadal

Kentucky's domination spans over no more than a season. But tennis star Rafael Nadal hadn't lost in four years at French Open before he took on Robin Soderling in the fourth round. No one gave the Swede any chance and Nadal was supposed to register his 32nd consecutive win of the tournament. This is when perhaps the greatest upset in Open Era tennis happened. Soderling smashed the Spaniard out of the court for a four-set win. It remains Spanish lefty's only defeat at Roland Garros in a decade of participation. If Soderling can do it, so can Duke, Wisconsin or Notre Dame, because as good as the Wildcats are, they're no Nadal on red clay.


2. France (2002)

france 2002

France entered the 2002 FIFA World Cup with the tag of reigning World champions, European champions and Confederations Cup champions. Moreover, their squad was basically the who's who of legends like Zinedine Zidane, David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry. Before even a ball was kicked, the debate was who will be the other team in the final against the mighty French.

But in an extraordinary turn of events, Les Bleus lost their opening game to minnows Senegal 1-0 and couldn't even make it out of their easy group.


3. Los Angeles Lakers (2004)

In Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers had the best shooting guard of his generation, and Shaquille O'Neal is widely regarded as the most dominating big man of the game has ever seen. Those two were more than a handful themselves, but in 2003, the Lakers recruited two more bona fide superstars in the form of Karl Malone and Gary Payton. The quartet, combined with a proven bench, was supposed to steamroll the star-less Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals. But instead, Larry Brown's Pistons dismantled the Lakers so badly they lost three of their four superstars to trade, retirement or injury by the start of the new season.


4. New England Patriots (2007)

patriots 2007

Super Bowl XLII was the New England Patriots' fourth championship game in seven years. On top of their greater playoff experience, they went the entire regular season unbeaten, winning all 16 games comfortably. Their dominance was such that many expected them to become only the second team after the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins side to win the Super Bowl with a perfect record. Meanwhile, their opponents – the New York Giants – were wild card entrants into the playoffs. Never before had a wild card team won the Super Bowl. Chances of it happening this time too were slim to none due to the massive difference of quality between the two sides, but Eli Manning and David Tyree had other ideas. The two combined for the famous "Manning to Tyree" pass, which in the words of Steve Sabol is 'the greatest play the Super Bowl has ever produced.'


5. Oakland Athletics (1988)

oakland athletics

In the 1988 World Series, the 104-win Oakland Athletics were deemed unbeatable. They boasted the services of Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, game's best closer Dennis Eckersly, the Rookie of the Year Walt Weiss and a bunch of others who were rated the best at their jobs. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers had Kirk Gibson, whose knees were crumbling, and Orel Hershiser, who was to be rested for Game 1. The A's were more talented in every way, yet it were the Dodgers who won the World Series in just five games.

If that A's side and the four above can be beaten, we have no business suggesting that the Wildcats' opponents have no chance.