Of Championship Caliber

June 17, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

In one championship weekend, Phil Jackson won his tenth title (as an NBA coach), Kobe his fourth, and Sidney Crosby his first.  

The Penguins won their third Stanley Cup, the first since 1992, and in the process deprived the Red Wings their 11th.  While the Lakers captured their 15th, their first since 2002, the Magic lost for the second time in two visits.

Every year, whether it’s the NHL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, professional sports teams win championships. Rarely do we see organizations earning their first. Rather, for the most part, as was the case this weekend, franchises tend to accumulate more.  

As the Yankees seek their 27th World Series title and the Steelers their seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy, let’s look back over the years and assess which sports teams have earned the right to be considered some of the greatest of all time.



To start with the most, the Yankees’ 26 World Championships make them king. Their late 1990s surge of four in five years moved them past the Montreal Canadiens for the most by any sports team.  But does 26 tell the true story?

Beginning in 1969, MLB expanded its two team playoff format, allowing two more teams to contend for a title.  Prior to this, the Yankees captured 20 out of 65 World Series, or 31 percent of the total championships.  

Since the expansion, they’ve collected six of the next thirty eight titles, or 16 percent. It’s obvious, then, that as MLB welcomed more teams to the race for a World Series, the likelihood that one team would rule decreased. Do these numbers diminish the Yankees 26 titles?  

Considering only the Oakland A’s have more than three since 1969, with four, or 11 percent of the total, six in that span and 26 titles overall still holds water.



The Montreal Canadiens have tallied 23 Stanley Cups wins.  This number nearly doubles that of second place Toronto with 13, who, by the way, haven’t won another since 1967.

But similar to the restructuring of MLB’s playoff format, the NHL went to a 16-team system for the 1980-1981 season, and since this time, Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers lead the way with five Cups, followed by the Detroit Red Wings’ four.  

Just like the way the Yankees racked up titles in the 50s, the Canadiens took advantage of a league of six by winning five consecutive Cups from 1956-1960. Should their accomplishments be lessened because of the lack of competition?  

For the recent format, the Halves won in 1986 and 1993.  

Until the Maple Leafs can get within single digits and break their 42 year slump, we’ll grant the Canadiens the NHL’s team (although the Red Wings are creeping up).



The Boston Celtics have won 17 NBA Championships,2222 followed by the Los Angeles Lakers with 15.  

The Lakers, who once resided in Minneapolis, shot out to a 5-0 lead in this back and forth rivalry.  

The Celtics answered with eight in a row from 1958-1966 and an incredible 11 titles over a 13 year span.  What’s more remarkable: the Celtics defeated the Lakers in seven of those 11 titles.  

Throughout the 80s, the Celtics added on three more titles and were present in the finals a total of five times.  As for the Lakers, they won five titles and represented the West in an astounding eight of the 10 championships of the decade. 

Which seems to be where the Lakers take this debate.  

Of the 63 years the NBA title has been a goal, the Lakers have been one of the final two to compete for it a total of 30 times. The Celtics have a respectable 20.  

Regardless of the amount of times the Lakers have won the whole thing, a 48 percent championship finals rate is an achievement in any capacity.  



This past February the Pittsburgh Steelers recorded their NFL-best sixth Super Bowl victory.  In the process, they surpassed the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers both with five.  

Considering there have only been forty three Super Bowls, and the parody preached amongst the NFL is so prominent, it’s difficult to argue that six titles makes a team the best.  

The Cowboys have made the final stage a league best eight times; the 49ers are undefeated at 5-0 in Super Bowl play, and the Vikings and Bills made the trip four teams each, although both unfortunately losing all four.

The reality, then, is that football existed prior to the two leagues merging to form a Super Bowl in 1966.  Before that, the likes of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants roamed the championship gridiron.  

These teams combined to dominate 21 out of the 33 NFL Championships and after 1966, collectively hold 10 of the 43 Super Bowls.  So you see, to extend the NFL discussion over seventy seven years trumps the mere six Super Bowl wins the Pittsburgh Steelers have attained.  

In a nutshell, winning writes history.  It’s always a great story when the Tampa Bay Rays or Arizona Cardinals shock the sports world and make a run toward a title.  But unless they follow it up with more of the same for years to follow, they’ll simply become just a fluke.

Consistent winners give sports fans something to chew on.  Time and time again, these aforementioned teams when not playing well befuddle us with why.  

When they are playing well, they amaze us with wow.

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