The 25 Best Teams Of The Past 25 Years

25. The 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings

Despite enduring a somewhat topsy-turvy regular season, the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings bloomed in the springtime and clinched back-to-back championships. The Red Wings went a somewhat pedestrian 44-23-15 and only finished as a third seed in the Western Conference. Nevertheless, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan thrived in the playoffs and helped the Red Wings overcome the Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. In the Stanley Cup Final, Chris Osgood stifled the Washington Capitals’ attack and Detroit easily collected another title. Steve Yzerman was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy for his brilliance on the ice.

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24. The 2007-2008 Boston Celtics

Decorated Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge acquired perennial All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007. Roughly a year later, on June 17, 2008, Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce led the fabled organization to its first championship since 1986. To enhance the Celtics’ excitement, Boston outplayed its arch-rival Los Angeles Lakers in six games to gain the title. Shortly after Boston collected its 17th crown, Pierce was named the finals’ MVP. Overall, this special Celtics squad compiled a mark of 82-26.

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23. The 2014-15 Golden State Warriors

Although not as talented as the franchise’s most recent championship-winning team, the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors were an absolute powerhouse, too. Fueled by the pinpoint shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors finished 67-15 to win their first Western Conference crown since 1975. Somewhat predictably, Golden State also thrashed its playoff opponents and advanced to the association’s finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite LeBron James’ extraordinary efforts, the Warriors trumped Cleveland in six games to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Andre Iguodala was named the series’ MVP after averaging 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

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22. The 2013-2014 San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals. Determined to avenge this bitter loss, the 2013-2014 Spurs went 62-20 to grab the number one seed in the Western Conference. San Antonio proved to be the best in the west and the organization advanced to its sixth appearance in the finals. Showcasing beautiful, team-oriented basketball, the Spurs burned the Heat in five lopsided contests to claim their fifth Larry O’Brien Trophy. Kawhi Leonard played lockdown defense and averaged 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists to gain the series’ MVP honors.

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21. The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings

The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings were a cohesive unit that skillfully outperformed all their challengers. Detroit finished 54-21-7, outscored its opponents by 73 points, and won its fifth conference championship. In the finals, the Red Wings trounced the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to obtain their 11th Stanley Cup. Forward Henrik Zetterberg was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy shortly after he scored the series’ decisive goal.

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20. The 1999 St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” was virtually unstoppable and arguably the most dynamic offense in NFL history. With Kurt Warner at the helm, the Rams averaged 32.9 points per game and finished 13-3 to secure the NFC West crown. St. Louis outlasted the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to advance to its first Super Bowl. The Rams subsequently defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16 to earn the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Dick Vermeil’s overpowering Rams squad featured seven Pro Bowlers and, on a given day, could have outscored any team ever fielded.

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19. The 2012-2013 Miami Heat

The 2012-2013 Miami Heat steamrolled the competition from the outset and never relented. The Heat embarked on a 27-game win streak and finished the regular season 66-16. In the Eastern Conference playoffs, Miami burned the competition to advance to its third consecutive finals. Once there, the Heat managed to outdo the San Antonio Spurs in seven contests to gather back-to-back Larry O’Brien trophies. LeBron James averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists to win his second straight finals MVP award.

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18. The 1993-1994 New York Rangers

Mark Messier guaranteed that the New York Rangers would qualify for the Stanley Cup Final on May 25, 1994. Messier fulfilled his promise and, once there, in a hard-fought series, Brian Leetch helped the Broadway Blueshirts outlast the Vancouver Canucks to exorcise the Curse of 1940. Leech was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as that spring’s MVP. Overall, the Rangers went an incredible 68-33-8.

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17. The 2004 Boston Red Sox

The 2004 Boston Red Sox finished 98–64 and lagged three games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. Nonetheless, Boston got toasty in October and disposed of the Anaheim Angels in three contests. In the ALCS, New York clubbed its way to a 3-0 advantage and had the Red Sox on the brink of elimination. Stunningly, the Red Sox rebounded from that seemingly hopeless deficit and exorcised the Curse of the Bambino on October 20. After their historic comeback, the Sox pummeled the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 to obtain their first World Series crown since 1918. David Ortiz was procured the ALCS MVP and Manny Ramirez was named the Fall Classic’s MVP.

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16. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks soared throughout the 2013 campaign. Backed by an all-time great defense, the Seahawks finished the regular season 13-3 to accumulate their sixth NFC West crown this millennium. Seattle then outdid the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seahawks proceeded to embarrass the Denver Broncos 43-8 to capture their lone Vince Lombardi Trophy. Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith, who amassed 10 tackles, recovered a fumble, and returned an interception for a score, was named the game’s MVP.

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15. The 2016 Chicago Cubs

The 2016 Cubs are arguably the most treasured team in the history of Chicago professional sports. The Cubs eclipsed heightened projections that season and finished 103–58-1 to collect the National League Central Division title. In the playoffs, the North Siders outshined the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers to secure their first World Series appearance since 1908. The Cubs fell into a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians during the Fall Classic. However, Joe Maddon’s club persevered, recovered and chopped The Tribe to procure their first Commissioner’s Trophy in 108 years. Ben Zobrist was awarded the series’ MVP honors shortly after the Cubs’ victory on November 2.

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14. The 1994 San Francisco 49ers

Steve Young supplanted Joe Montana under center in 1991. Although Young primarily produced, he failed to guide the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl and was constantly denounced by fans and media alike. However, in 1994, the athletic southpaw was golden and he led San Francisco to its first Vince Lombardi Trophy since 1989. In addition to Young’s brilliance, the 49ers’ defense was a ferocious unit that decimated opponents. The 1994 San Francisco 49ers simply were an all-time great football team.

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13. The 1993 Toronto Blue Jays

The 1993 Toronto Blue Jays were a remarkably talented club that featured four future Hall of Famers (Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor). After outworking the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, the Blue Jays soared to a three-games-to-one series advantage over the Philadelphia Phillies in the Fall Classic. However, the Phillies fought valiantly and were on the cusp of forcing a Game 7. Then, with Toronto down 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Joe Carter hit a three-run dinger off Phillies closer Mitch Williams to procure back-to-back World Series championships. The boyish exuberance that Carter exhibited as he celebrated his achievement remains an indelible baseball moment.

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12. The 1998 Denver Broncos

Following three failed attempts, John Elway and the Denver Broncos finally claimed a Vince Lombardi Trophy in 1997. However, the 1998 Broncos were an even stronger unit that’s now deemed one of the best in NFL history. Denver flirted with perfection, finished atop the AFC West at 14-2, and conquered its playoff competition. The Broncos then manhandled the Atlanta Falcons 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII to clinch back-to-back championships. In his final game on the gridiron, Elway was named MVP after throwing for 336 yards and one touchdown.

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11. The 1999-2000 Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers glittered throughout the 1999-2000 campaign and ultimately collected the storied organization’s first Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy since June 1988. In his debut season as the Lakers’ coach, Phil Jackson brilliantly sold Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on the notion of playing selflessly and the team finished 67-15. The Lakers struggled against the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers in the playoffs. However, Jackson’s squad overcame adversity and eventually outplayed the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals. The 7-foot-1, 350-pound O’Neal averaged 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 assists over six games to earn MVP honors.

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10. The 2004 New England Patriots

Of all the standout squads in the New England Patriots’ ongoing dynasty, the 2004 version was its most complete one. The Patriots went 14-2 and conquered the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers to win their fourth AFC Championship in nine seasons. The Patriots then grounded the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships on February 6, 2005. Shortly after New England was presented with its third Vince Lombardi Trophy, Deion Branch was announced as the game’s MVP.

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9. The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks axed the competition on the ice throughout the 2012-2013 campaign. Chicago finished the lockout-shortened regular season 36-7-5 and effortlessly grabbed its second Presidents’ Trophy. The Blackhawks’ superiority was also evident in the playoffs and they outshined the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings to qualify for the Stanley Cup Finals. Once at the sport’s pinnacle, the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins in six games to win their fifth title. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was named the series’ MVP.

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8. The 1996 Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers had the league’s top-ranked offense and top-ranked defense in 1996. Accordingly, it’s not surprising that the fabled franchise seized its first ever Vince Lombardi Trophy that season. Led by back-to-back regular season MVP Brett Favre, the Packers went 13-3 and gained home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Green Bay then vanquished the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots to achieve football immortality.

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7. The 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings

The 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings flew from the outset and went 51-17-10-4 to grab the Presidents’ Trophy. In the playoffs, backed by 10 future Hall of Famers, Detroit defeated the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche to win its fourth Western Conference championship. The Red Wings blew away the Carolina Hurricanes to clinch their 10th Stanley Cup. Standout defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom was named the series’ MVP.

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6. The 1996-1997 Chicago Bulls

The 1996-1997 Chicago Bulls often get overlooked because of the dominance of its immediate predecessor. Nevertheless, this incarnation of the Bulls was an iconic one that went 69-13 in the regular season. Chicago subsequently dismantled the Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat to make its fifth NBA Finals appearance of the 1990s. In a memorable series, the Bulls handled the Utah Jazz in six games to collect back-to-back Larry O’Brien trophies. Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points, 7.0 boards and 6.0 dishes to claim his fifth finals MVP.

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5. The 1993 Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys started the 1993 season 0-2 because legendary running back Emmitt Smith was absent due to a contract dispute. Predictably, after Smith returned in Week 3, the Cowboys dominated and finished 12-4 to clinch the NFC East crown. In the playoffs, Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and the rest of Dallas’ sensational cast upstaged the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills to obtain back-to-back Vince Lombardi trophies. Many analysts consider this version of the Cowboys to be the organization’s preeminent squad.

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4. The 1999 New York Yankees

After outclassing all competitors the previous season, the New York Yankees entered spring training in 1999 with Ruthian expectations. To further increase such lofty expectations, on February 18, the Yankees acquired five-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens in exchange for Homer Bush, Graeme Lloyd and David Wells. Although “The Rocket” initially failed to launch on East 161st Street and River Avenue, the Yankees excelled, went 98–64, and clinched their second consecutive AL East crown. In the postseason, the Bombers smashed the Texas Rangers in three contests and overwhelmed the Boston Red Sox in five games to advance to their third World Series in four years. The Fall Classic was an absolute mismatch and the Yankees blanked the Atlanta Braves to earn their 25th Commissioner’s Trophy. Famed closer Mariano Rivera was borderline unhittable against the Braves and he secured MVP honors.

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3. The 2016-17 Golden State Warriors

A year after wasting their record-breaking regular season, the Golden State Warriors utterly trounced the competition throughout 2016-2017. The Warriors went 67-15 to gain home-court advantage in the postseason. Golden State proceeded to go 16-1 in the playoffs and clinch its second championship in three years. Newly acquired megastar Kevin Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 boards and 5.4 dishes in five lopsided games against the Cleveland Cavaliers to earn NBA Finals MVP accolades.

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2. The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls

Approximately four months after the Chicago Bulls vanished against the Orlando Magic in the 1995 postseason, Michael Jordan reported to training camp driven to regain his aura of supremacy on the hardwood. A 33-year-old Jordan and Scottie Pippen were joined by Dennis Rodman in their mission to gain a fourth crown. The trio of Hall of Famers meshed from the get-go and concluded the regular season with an unprecedented mark of 72-10. The Bulls ran the playoffs and upstaged the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and Seattle SuperSonics to obtain another Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. The 1995-1996 Bulls are often hailed as the preeminent squad in the annals of the association.

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1. The 1998 New York Yankees

The 1998 New York Yankees were the greatest juggernaut ever assembled on the diamond. The Bronx Bombers outscored opponents by more than 300 runs to finish 114-48 in the regular season. The Yankees subsequently compiled a mark of 7-2 in the American League playoffs before sweeping the overmatched San Diego Padres 4-0 in the 1998 Fall Classic. Hence, New York concluded that autumn with an overall record of 125-50 and achieved baseball immortality. Of the Yankees’ 27 World Series championship squads, this version stands unrivaled.

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