Special Report

Greatest Teams in the History of Every Sport

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Hundreds of teams have competed in America’s four major sports leagues for more than a century. Every year, one team wins its league championship and makes its claim as one of the best ever. Then fans and sportswriters debate its place among the all-time greats. Only a select few, however, have reached the pantheon of greatness.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the Sports Reference family of sites on teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL to find the greatest teams in sports history. We created an index based on each team’s regular season records, point, goal, or run differential, and playoff success for each season. To control for the differences in each league, we scored each team within their league, then combined each score across all four sports. Only teams that won a championship were considered. Teams in competitor leagues like the ABA and AFL were not considered, nor were MLB teams from before 1903 and the start of the World Series era.

Each season, there are a number of good teams that have a realistic shot at winning a title in their sport. But only one team can lift the trophy, and only that team has the right to consider itself truly great. Sports history is full of teams like the 2007 New England Patriots and 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors that appeared to be headed for greatness before losing the championship and their chance to claim a place as one of the best teams ever. These are the greatest teams that did not win a championship.

For a team to take its place among the greatest teams in sports history, virtually everything has to go right during the season — great talent meshing together that has been assembled by a farsighted front office; some fortunate breaks during the season; few injuries that hobble the journey to a championship; and a respected coach armed with a strategy for winning. With six Super Bowl titles to his name, current New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has made a compelling case as the greatest NFL coach ever. These are the greatest coaches of all time.

Source: Scott Halleran / Getty Images

25. 1999 St. Louis Rams
> League: NFL
> Record: 13-3
> Point differential: 17.8 points per game

The 1999 St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf” offense averaged more than 30 points per game on their way to the only Super Bowl win in Rams franchise history.

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Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

24. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
> League: NBA
> Record: 65-17
> Point differential: 9.3 points per game

The 1986-87 Lakers, led by NBA legends Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, only lost three total games across their four playoff series.

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

23. 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers
> League: NBA
> Record: 67-15
> Point differential: 8.5 points per game

The 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers ended up being the start of a dynasty — it was the first of three straight NBA championships won by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Coach Phil Jackson in L.A.

Source: Getty Images

22. 1949 Philadelphia Eagles
> League: NFL
> Record: 11-1
> Point differential: 19.2 points per game

The 1949 Philadelphia Eagles utterly dominated their opponents. The team scored the most points of any team, while surrendering the lowest scoring total on defense.

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Source: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

21. 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens
> League: NHL
> Record: 58-11-11
> Goal differential: 2.0 goals per game

The 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens had one of the most legendary lineups in sports history, boasting nine Hall of Famers, including Guy LaFleur, Jacques Lemaire, and Ken Dryden.

Source: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

20. 1991 Washington Redskins
> League: NFL
> Record: 14-2
> Point differential: 16.3 points per game

The 1991 Washington Redskins began their season with a flawless 11-0 record. After finishing 14-2, they then dominated in the postseason, winning all three playoff games — including the Super Bowl — by at least 13 points.

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Source: Getty Images

19. 1941 Chicago Bears
> League: NFL
> Record: 10-1
> Point differential: 22.6 points per game

The 1941 Chicago Bears may be one of the most impressive collections of talent in NFL history. Of the 62 players selected to the Pro Bowl that season, 33 were Bears. Unsurprisingly, this team crushed opponents by over three touchdowns per game on the way to an NFL title.

Source: Getty Images

18. 1985-86 Boston Celtics
> League: NBA
> Record: 67-15
> Point differential: 9.4 points per game

The roster of the 1985-86 Boston Celtics was stacked with five Hall of Fame players — Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Bill Walton.

Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

17. 2007-08 Boston Celtics
> League: NBA
> Record: 66-16
> Point differential: 10.2 points per game

Boston’s Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were more than opponents could handle. The Celtics won their games by an average of over 10 points per game during the 2007-08 season en route to an NBA title.

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Source: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

16. 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens
> League: NHL
> Record: 59-10-11
> Goal differential: 2.2 goals per game

The 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens were in the midst of one of the most dominant dynasties in sports history. That season the Habs had the top-scoring offense and defense, winning their third of four straight Stanley Cups.

Source: George Rose / Getty Images

15. 1984 San Francisco 49ers
> League: NFL
> Record: 15-1
> Point differential: 15.5 points per game

With Joe Montana at quarterback and Ronnie Lott leading the defense, the 1984 San Francisco 49ers dominated opponents, winning their games handily. They continued dominating in the playoffs, winning each postseason game by double digits.

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Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

14. 2014-15 Golden State Warriors
> League: NBA
> Record: 67-15
> Point differential: 10.1 points per game

In 2014, the Golden State Warriors took the NBA by storm with their fast-paced, 3-pointer heavy offense. Steph Curry averaged 23.8 points per game on his way to NBA MVP honors and the team won their first of three titles in a four-year span.

Source: Getty Images

13. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers
> League: NBA
> Record: 68-13
> Point differential: 9.4 points per game

In his prime, Wilt Chamberlain was simply unstoppable. He averaged 24 points and rebounds while shooting 68.3% from the field during his 1966-67 season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly had the NBA’s top-scoring offense and one of the best defenses, winning 68 games and the NBA title.

Source: Focus on Sport / Getty Images

12. 1972 Miami Dolphins
> League: NFL
> Record: 14-0
> Point differential: 15.3 points per game

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are still the only team in the Super Bowl era to complete an entire regular season undefeated, then go on to win the Super Bowl. These Dolphins had the NFL’s top offense and defense, both in terms of points and yards.

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Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

11. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls
> League: NBA
> Record: 67-15
> Point differential: 10.4 points per game

Few teams in recent NBA history have been as dominant as the Chicago Bulls during their two three-peats and each individual team has attained greatness. But the 1991-92 team stands out after winning the second title in Bulls history. NBA MVP Michael Jordan averaged over 30 points per game and the Bulls won the average game by over 10 points.

Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

10. 1985 Chicago Bears
> League: NFL
> Record: 15-1
> Point differential: 16.1 points per game

With perhaps the greatest defensive unit ever assembled, the 1985 Bears smothered opponents. Chicago allowed 10 or fewer points in 11 regular season games. The Bears breezed through their playoff games, allowed just 10 points total in three contests, while scoring 91, en route to the lone Super Bowl in Bears history.

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Source: Getty Images

9. 1962 Green Bay Packers
> League: NFL
> Record: 13-1
> Point differential: 19.1 points per game

With QB Bart Starr and fullback Jim Taylor, the 1962 Green Bay Packers had an unstoppable offense — averaging nearly 30 points per game. With the league’s best scoring defense, the Packers cruised to a championship.

Source: Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

8. 1927 New York Yankees
> League: MLB
> Record: 110-44-1
> Run differential: 2.4 runs per game

The batting lineup of the 1927 Yankees was so fearsome, it was known as Murderer’s Row. Babe Ruth hit a then-record 60 home runs that season and the team’s 110-44-1 record still stands as the best in Yankees history by win percentage. The Yanks swept the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete one of the greatest baseball seasons of all time.

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

7. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors
> League: NBA
> Record: 67-15
> Point differential: 11.6 points per game

After posting the best regular season record in NBA history, but losing in the NBA Finals the year before, the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors came back with a vengeance. The Warriors again had the NBA’s top offense before sweeping all three Western Conference opponents they faced in the playoffs and beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 to win the NBA Finals.

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Source: Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

6. 1996-97 Chicago Bulls
> League: NBA
> Record: 69-13
> Point differential: 10.8 points per game

The one-two punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen proved to be unstoppable yet again in the 1996-97 season. Jordan averaged nearly 30 points per game while Pippen contributed more than 20 per game. The Bulls would go on to beat the Utah Jazz and MVP Karl Malone for their fifth NBA title.

Source: Getty Images

5. 1939 New York Yankees
> League: MLB
> Record: 106-45-1
> Run differential: 2.7 runs per game

The 1939 Yankees had 10 All-Stars and six players — Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, and Red Ruffing — who would go on to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Bronx Bombers scored the most runs in the MLB, while also allowing the fewest to score. The dominance continued into the postseason, where New York swept the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.

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Source: Getty Images

4. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
> League: NBA
> Record: 66-16
> Point differential: 12.2 points per game

The early 1970s NBA had no answers for how to defend NBA MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Led by those two Hall of Famers, the Bucks blew out opposing teams by an average of over 12 points per game. The Bucks lost just two postseason games on their way to the NBA title.

Source: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

3. 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens
> League: NHL
> Record: 60-8-12
> Goal differential: 2.7 goals per game

The Montreal Canadiens have had many great teams, but none compares to their 1976-77 team. Their +2.7 goal differential is the highest of all time, and their 60-8-12 record is the best in the NHL’s modern era. Montreal’s 1977 Stanley Cup would be their second of four straight titles.

Source: Bettmann / Getty Images

2. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
> League: NBA
> Record: 69-13
> Point differential: 12.3 points per game

The best team in one of the most historically successful franchises in pro sports, the 1971-72 Lakers had an aging but skilled roster in Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain. The team posted a record 69 wins during the regular season that would hold until the Bulls hit 72 wins in 1995.

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Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
> League: NBA
> Record: 72-10
> Point differential: 12.3 points per game

Speaking of the 1995-96 Bulls, this team comes in as the most dominant in pro sports. The team, with Michael Jordan back for the full season, as well as Scottie Pippen and a newly-acquired Dennis Rodman, broke the Lakers’ record for the most wins in a season, at 72, and went on to begin their second three-peat of the 90s, beating Seattle and losing only three of their 18 postseason games.

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