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Most Unfair Superteams in Sports History

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIIJanuary 11, 2017

Most Unfair Superteams in Sports History

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    The term "franchise player" is often tossed around. You know, that special talent who can carry the team on his back in Greg Jennings-esque fashion, broken leg and all. Wilt Chamberlain, Gordie Howe, Jim Brown—all were revered for their toughness and ability to dominate as franchise cornerstones.

    Regardless of a franchise player's talent, though, team brass often yearns for that superstar supporting cast. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Joe Montana had Jerry Rice, Babe Ruth had Lou Gehrig. One man can only do so much.

    Forget college athletics (dominated by powerhouse recruiting schools) and national soccer teams (sparked by locational talent). We're set to focus on teams that were built by brilliant general managers and owners who knew what it took to create a dynasty.

    Let's take a look at the most unfair superteams ever to grace the playing field, the Goliaths of the sporting world.

20. Boston Celtics, 2007-2008

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    Paul Pierce couldn't possibly carry Boston on his back any longer by the time 2007 rolled around, so the Danny Ainge-managed Celtics acquired 10-time All-Star Kevin Garnett and three-point legend Ray Allen to lighten the load.

    They would win a title in their first season as the newest Big Three, with another Celtics dynasty seemingly on the horizon.

19. Calgary Flames, 1988-1989

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    Forwards Joe Mullen and Joe Nieuwendyk both scored 51 times, and goalie Mike Vernon won a league-leading 37 games to headline a dominant season.

    Veteran stars Al MacInnis and Lanny McDonald helped rookie Theoren Fleury find his niche (he would eventually become the Flames' all-time leading scorer), while defensive wiz Gary Suter did what he does best...protect the blue line.

    Calgary wins its first and only Stanley Cup—McDonald's beard the iconic trademark.

18. New York Yankees, 2004

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    A pinstripes club already stocked with Kenny Lofton, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and high-profile Japanese import Hideki Matsui decided to make arguably the richest trade in the history of baseball.

    The Yanks gave up Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later for the wealthiest man in baseball, shortstop Alex Rodriguez, boosting the payroll to a monstrous $200 million.

    He may not be worth the nearly $30 million per year, but the converted third baseman brought a new element to an already ferocious unit that can't be ignored: phoniness.

    They were missing that crucial ingredient.

17. Dallas Stars, 1998-1999

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    Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk—this star-studded squad was already deemed champions by pundits and legendary by opponents. Goalie Ed Belfour allowing fewer than two goals per game simply opened the door for greatness.

    However, it was the unlikely explosion of a young Jamie Langenbrunner (10 goals and seven assists) during the playoffs that led the Stars to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

16. Los Angeles Lakers, 2012-2013

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    It's certainly premature to speculate, but the Lakers' 2012 offseason is the quintessential case of the rich getting richer.

    To compliment Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol, Los Angeles added assist-man extraordinaire and former MVP Steve Nash and perennial superstar Dwight Howard.

    We haven't seen greatness like this since the team's No. 1 fan starred in The Shining.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1978

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    With quarterback Terry Bradshaw finding his MVP form and the vaunted Steel Curtain defense (featuring Dwight White, Mean Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood) destroying opposing backfields as usual, this Steel City dynasty easily won its third Super Bowl (the first team to do so).

    Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll was the string tying it all together, and let's not forget tailback Franco Harris' bruising influence.

14. New York Yankees, 1941

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    The year of Joe DiMaggio's legendary 56-game hit streak, 1941 saw the Yanks convincingly secure another World Series title.

    Led by an outfield that slugged 94 home runs, a stellar pitching unit that hovered around a 3.00 ERA and the double-play combo of Phil Rizzuto to Joe Gordon, the Yankees were the talk of the town and league. Nobody could take their eyes off those stripes.

    Keep in mind only two teams lost over 90 games that season.

13. Atlanta Braves, 1998

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    A powerful offense featuring catcher Javy Lopez (34 homers), Andres Galarraga (44 homers), Chipper and Andruw Jones (a combined 65 homers) and Ryan Klesko (a respectable 18 homers) was epically complemented by perhaps the greatest rotation in Major League history.

    Greg Maddux (18-9, 2.22), Tom Glavine (20-6, 2.47), Denny Neagle (16-11, 3.55), Kevin Millwood (17-8, 4.08) and John Smoltz (17-3, 2.90) formed a lightning-rod unit that recorded a combined 2.97 ERA and featured three future Hall of Famers.

    From top to bottom, this Braves squad reeked of success.

12. St. Louis Rams, 1999

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    The grocery boy-led Rams may have proved to be the most exciting and diverse unit in history.

    The '99 Greatest Show on Turf scored 526 points during its 13-3 regular season, (nearly 33 points per game) and only allowed 242 (just a tad over 15 per game). Kurt Warner threw 41 touchdowns and secured a 109.2 rating, Marshall Faulk ran for 1,381 yards and caught 87 passes for 1,048 yards and the receiving trio of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Az-Zahir Hakim combined for 2,630 yards. 

    Surely the most exciting one-inch finish in Super Bowl history. And don't call me Shirley.

11. Miami Heat, 2012-2013

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    With picks No. 1, No. 4 and No. 5 of the 2003 NBA draft on the squad, we all knew the '11 Heat would be good. But teaming up LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and now Ray Allen this year will make next year's playoffs almost painful to watch.

    With an NBA Finals appearance in their first season together and a title this year, the Heat could eventually turn out to be the most athletic team ever assembled on the hardwood.

10. Colorado Avalanche, 2000-2001

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    Joe Sakic scored 54 goals, Milan Hejduk netted 41 and the Peter Forsberg-Alex Tanguay-Chris Drury trio totaled 78. A dominant Patrick Roy in net paved the way for a historic year.

    Their 118 regular-season points and a nail-biting seven-game Stanley Cup victory over the Devils cemented this Avalanche club in the record books for good.

9. San Francisco 49ers, 1989

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    Perhaps the greatest team in Super Bowl history, the 14-2 Niners of 1989 featured Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young (as a backup), safety Ronnie Lott, linebacker Michael Walter, corner Don Griffin and receiver Jerry Rice.

    They saved their best for the playoffs, where the 49ers outscored opponents 126-26 and secured their fourth title.

8. New York Knicks, 1969-1970

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    Bill Russell's retirement the year before signaled the end of a Celtics dynasty. The window was open for Big Apple greatness.

    Led by Hall of Famers Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Dave DeBusschere, the Red Holzman-coached Knicks rolled to a 60-22 record during the 1969-70 season. Despite a Reed injury, featuring an iconic limp onto the hardwood to the roars of inspired fans, New York took the title in seven games.

7. Dallas Cowboys, 1993

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    On paper, the defending-champion '93 Cowboys were already dubbed the greatest in the league, featuring Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Jay Novacek, Russell Maryland, Ken Norton, Charles Haley, Daryl Johnston and Leon "Blooper Boy" Lett.

    But with huge targets on their backs following a title the year before and Smith in a holdout to start the season, "America's Team" started 0-2. Jerry Jones quickly signed his star runner, and the team tossed out seven straight wins en route to a 12-4 season.

    Behind the most ferocious offensive line unit in the league and 11 Pro Bowl members, the Cowboys won their second consecutive title and fourth overall.

    Fun fact: 1987 Pro Bowler Bernie Kosar was Aikman's backup in '93.

6. Cincinnati Reds, 1975

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    From 1970 to 1976, the powerful Sparky Anderson-led Reds won five National League Western Division titles, four National League pennants and two World Series titles. The 1975 Reds, who went 108-54 and won the NL West by 20 games, were perhaps the best.

    Dubbed the Big Red Machine, this Cincinnati dynasty featured hits leader Pete Rose and Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, along with Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey Sr.

    A pitching rotation headed by a pogo stick could've thrived with that lineup.

5. Miami Dolphins, 1972

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    Critics have noted a weak schedule, but the prodigious '72 Dolphins were light years beyond the competition regardless. The only NFL team to record an undefeated season featured plenty of storylines.

    Running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris became the first teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in a season (heady runner Jim Kiick added a respectable 521 yards).

    Receiver Paul Warfield averaged over 20 yards per catch, and quarterback Earl Morrall proved his competence under center as perhaps the greatest backup ever (Bob Griese went down with a broken ankle in Week 5 and returned for the AFC championship game, Morrall keeping them perfect all throughout). 

    Let's not forget the bruising offensive line that included future Hall of Famers Jim Langer and Larry Little, as well as Pro Bowler Norm Evans.

4. Boston Celtics, 1985-1986

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    Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale. This team was already legendary when it signed seasoned great Bill Walton to be their sixth man. With Walton as the NBA's best bench player, the Celtics won 50 of 51 home games during the regular season and playoffs.

    Boston would secure its 16th championship—its last one for the next 22 years.

3. New York Yankees, 1961

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    Roger Maris' 61 home runs in 1961 formed the cover of what would become one of the most historic scripts in sports history.

    Dubbed Murderers' Row, Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Johnny Blanchard and Bill Skowron clubbed an epic 207 bombs. The pitching trio of Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry and Bill Stafford combined for 55 wins, while a spot-starting Jim Coates won 11 to coat a stellar rotation.

    Following the heartbreaking retirement-departure of Casey Stengel, Ralph "The Major" Houk kept the Pinstripes in line. The '61 club became arguably the greatest in MLB history.

2. Detroit Wings, 2001-2002

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    Led by defensemen Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom and goalie Dominik Hasek, the '02 Wings were eons above the competition. Their talented unit featuring Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov and Brett Hull recorded a historic 128 goals.

    A brilliant unit was bubble-wrapped for greatness by Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, who secured his ninth Stanley Cup with three different teams.

    These Wings proved to be perhaps the greatest professional sports squad ever assembled.

1. Los Angeles Lakers, 1984-1985

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    Perhaps the pinnacle season of the '80s Lakers dynasty, 1984-85 saw a stacked unit mesh like peanut butter and jelly.

    Hollywood featured Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy and was coated by the ferocious defense of five-time All-Defensive first team member Michael Cooper and backup center Bob McAdoo.

    Hair gel aficionado Pat Riley was the surgeon behind the success. Simply crafting champions.

     

    Follow me for more spectacular vernacular.

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