NBA 2K20 Tournament of Champions: Second round simulation

We began an exercise to see which of 16 past NBA champions would be the greatest ever. We’re on to the second round in our NBA 2K20 tournament of champions.

One round down, three to go in our NBA 2K20 Tournament of Champions. We started with 16 teams, all former NBA champions, going back to 1965’s Boston Celtics. Before you continue reading, make sure you read how we got here in the first round as we’ve narrowed our field down to just eight former champs.

As the dust settles, we’re left with the following matchups:

Western Conference

Eastern Conference

These matchups skew towards the more recent champs with only one team represented from the 1980s and one from the 1990s. Three teams are from the 2000s and another three from the 2010s. One team from the 1960s, another from the 1970s and one team from the 1980s lost in the first round.


We had four matchups that could have been strategically crated (although they weren’t). LeBron James and his Cavaliers faced off against the Spurs who defeated his final Heat team. The Mavs and Lakers were two teams that had gotten outscored in the first round. The 66-win Celtics faced the 72-win Bulls, and Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers had the chance for preemptive revenge against the Going to Work Pistons.

There was a clear path for a Michael Jordan – LeBron Finals, or perhaps Shaq and Kobe against Magic and Kareem in an all-Lakers Tournament of Champions Finals.

With enough possible dream outcomes, surely one of these would play out, right?

Nope. All hell broke loose and upsets happened left and right. Let’s check out just what happened.

5 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs 4
8 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers 3

3 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers 2
7 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks 4

1 2007-08 Boston Celtics 4
5 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 3

2 2003-04 Detroit Pistons 4 
6 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers 3


In a tournament where LeBron James had two entries (one with the Cavs and one with the Heat) and Michael Jordan had three entries, neither player will lead a team even to the conference finals. That’s even though neither player even faced the other in any matchup. In the seven series the two of them played, Jordan and James went a combined 2-5.

Through two series, the 2000-01 Lakers had the best net rating at +7.9 and they won’t even make it to the conference finals themselves. Incredibly, they even had the second-best net rating in the second round as well at +2.0, but the 2003-04 Pistons are simply not to be denied when it comes to ousting Laker teams of that era.

Two of the top three net rating teams will not make the conference finals as the Bulls came in third at +4.7.

Related Story: 50 greatest players to never win an NBA championship

Dirk Nowitzki had an incredible round, averaging 37.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, followed in scoring by Jordan with 31.1 points, then by Shaquille O’Neal with 31.1 points and 13.7 rebounds.

What comes next?

We won’t get the Jordan versus James Finals, nor an all-Los Angeles championship series. However, we have some impressive matchups nonetheless.

Western Conference

  • 5 2013-14 Spurs
  • 7 2010-11 Mavs

Eastern Conference

  • 1 2007-08 Celtics
  • 2 2003-04 Pistons

We’ll get an All-Texas Western Conference Finals and long-time hated rivals in the Celtics and Pistons will meet. Strangely enough, even though locations were not factored into seeds (nothing was factored into seeds), both conference finals will have appropriate locations.

Also of note, the Western Conference competitors represent the 2010s and the East’s teams are both from the 2000s. Different eras and different styles of play are on display.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the conference finals and the NBA 2K20 Finals to see who wins our Tournament of Champions.

Next: 50 greatest players in NBA history