The Wizards’ 115-105 loss to the Celtics in Game 7 of their second-round series Monday, coupled with the Capitals’ loss to the Penguins in Game 7 last week, means D.C. sports’ disappointing and unmatched championship-round drought continues, and it will last until at least October.
By now you’ve heard: The last time a D.C. team in one of the four major pro sports has been among the final four teams standing in its league was 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup final. In the 19 years since those Capitals were swept by the Red Wings, there have been 74 champions crowned in MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. There have also been 74 runners-up and 148 losing semifinalists. None of those 222 teams hailed from D.C.
D.C.’s four major pro sports have been within one round of the conference finals 15 times since the Capitals’ 1998 run and fallen short every time. During that stretch, D.C. teams have also lost 12 consecutive games with a chance to clinch a spot in the conference finals. D.C.’s teams have gone a combined total of 68 seasons without reaching the “final four.” The Wizards last reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1979.
(Reaching the conference finals isn’t especially noteworthy in most cities, but this is D.C., where sports fans haven’t had nice things in the playoffs, or a reason to purchase conference finals T-shirts, since 1998.)
It’s worth noting that D.C. United has won four MLS Cups, including two since 1998, and the Washington Mystics made the Eastern Conference finals in 2002. Soccer and WNBA fans in this town have had it better than most. It’s also worth nothing that playoff disappointments notwithstanding, it’s a pretty good time to be a D.C. sports fan and this silly streak should end sooner than later. The Capitals and Wizards just made the postseason in the same year for only the third time since 1988 and the second time in the last three years, and the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals and Redskins have all won at least one division title in the last two years.
Still, D.C. remains the only city with four major pro teams not to make at least one appearance in the conference-championship round since 2000. D.C., Cincinnati, Columbus and Winnipeg are the only North American cities with a team in at least one of the four major professional sports leagues that has failed to produce a conference-championship appearance since 1998.