Best Of The Millennium: The Top 25 American Pro Sports Franchises Since 2000

Alexander M. SmithContributor IFebruary 7, 2011

The Top 25 American Pro Sports Franchises Since 2000

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    The Green Bay Packers just won Super Bowl XLV. Where do they rank?Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    4 leagues. 122 teams. Where does your favorite franchise stand?

    The combined top 25 from the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB are all ranked here via a number of categories and formulas.

    The rankings come down to just one thing: winning.

    A formula designed to balance regular season winning percentage, postseason winning percentage, division championships, conference championships and league championships boiled down to the inclusion of seven teams from the NFL, six from the NHL, six from the NBA, and six from MLB.

    Take a peek at the list and let the conversation begin.

25. Dallas Mavericks

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    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 66.9%

    Postseason Record: 9-10

    Division Championships: 3

    Conference Championships: 1

    NBA Championships: 0

    Defining Season: 2005-2006. Despite soaring through the regular season with 60 victories, Dallas only commanded the four seed going into the NBA playoffs.

    After three straight series wins (and a 50-point game from Dirk Nowitzki against the hated Spurs) the Mavericks lost to Miami in the Finals.

24. Miami Heat

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    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 51.6%

    Postseason Record: 8-7

    Division Championships: 4

    Conference Championships: 1

    NBA Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2005-2006. After Shaquille O'Neal signed a huge contract to join the team in the offseason, he teamed up with rising star guard Dwyane Wade to cruise to a Southeast division title and a 4-2 series triumph over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. 

23. San Francisco Giants

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    Regular Season Since 2000: 53.1%

    Postseason Record: 5-3

    Division Championships: 3

    League Pennants: 2

    MLB Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2010. Led by pitcher Tim Lincecum, San Francisco won the NL West and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Following series victories against Atlanta and favored Philadelphia, the Giants were world champions after taking down Texas in the World Series. 

22. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim

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    Regular Season Since 2000: 55.0%

    Postseason Record: 5-5

    Division Championships: 5

    American League Pennants: 1

    MLB Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2002. Behind the bat of Garret Anderson, the Angels reached the AL playoffs as a wild-card and took down the mighty Yankees in the first round.

    After another upset in the AL championship over Minnesota, Anaheim defeated San Francisco in seven games in the World Series.

21. Anaheim Ducks

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    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 53.6%

    Postseason Record: 10-4

    Division Championships: 1

    Conference Championships: 2

    NHL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2006-2007. After an off-season of change in which the team name, logos, colors and uniforms were all redone, the Ducks flew through the regular season to clinch the first division championship in team history.

    After a beatdown of Ottawa in the Finals, Anaheim scored their first Stanley Cup as well.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Carolina Hurricanes, NHLDave Sandford/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 53.0%

    Postseason Record: 9-3

    Division Championships: 2

    Conference Championships: 2

    NHL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2005-2006. Carolina strolled through their schedule on the way to racking up 112 points on the season.

    Led by standout rookie goaltender Cam Ward (winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy), The Hurricanes survived a nailbiting Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-3 series victory over Edmonton.

19. New York Giants

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    New York Giants, NFLDonald Miralle/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 55.7%

    Postseason Record: 6-5

    Division Championships: 3

    Conference Championships: 2

    NFL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2007. After a so-so regular season, the Giants became the first NFC team to win three straight road games en route to the championship.

    A last second touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII brought the G-Men their biggest upset of all: An unforseeable triumph over 18-0 New England.

18. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Pittsburgh Penguins, NHLJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 51.3%

    Postseason Record: 11-5

    Division Championships: 1

    Conference Championships: 2

    NHL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2008-2009. Middling along and out of playoff position in February, Pittsburgh fired their coach and hired Dan Bylsma.

    The Penguins then went on a tear, storming through the playoffs on the backs of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and eventually upended Detroit for the Cup. 

17. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Philadelphia Eagles, NFLEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 64.2%

    Postseason Record: 10-9

    Division Championships: 5

    Conference Championships: 1

    NFL Championships: 0

    Defining Season: 2005. The Eagles steamrolled through the regular season and the NFC playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXXIX.

    The vaunted passing attack featuring quarterback Donovan McNabb and wide receiver Terrell Owens fell short in the big game, however, as Philadelphia lost to New England.

16. Baltimore Ravens

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    Baltimore Ravens, NFLDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 59.1%

    Postseason Record: 9-6

    Division Championships: 2

    Conference Championships: 1

    NFL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2000. Behind one of the best defenses in NFL history, Baltimore posted a 12-4 regular season record and fought through three AFC playoff games to reach the Super Bowl.

    After a 34-7 dismantling of the New York Giants, linebacker Ray Lewis won the game's MVP award.

15. Green Bay Packers

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    Green Bay Packers, NFLJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 59.7%

    Postseason Record: 7-6

    Division Championships: 4

    Conference Championships: 1

    NFL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2010. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers overcame numerous regular season injuries to scrape their way into the playoffs as the last seed in the NFC.

    Three road wins later, Green Bay was in Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers took home MVP honors in a 31-25 classic.

14. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Philadelphia Phillies, MLBJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 53.1%

    Postseason Record: 6-3

    Division Championships: 4

    League Pennants: 2

    MLB Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2008. The city of Philadelphia's 25-year wait for a championship finally came to an end after the Phillies' outstanding season.

    The team used the slugging of Ryan Howard combined with Cole Hamels' masterful pitching to take down the upstart Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

13. Colorado Avalanche

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    Colorado Avalanche, NHLBrian Bahr/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 59.0%

    Postseason Record: 11-7

    Division Championships: 4

    Conference Championships: 1

    NHL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2000-2001. A record-breaking season by goalie Patrick Roy and solid play at every position on the ice resulted in Colorado coasting through the regular season and playoffs before emerging victorious over New Jersey in an extremely hard fought Stanley Cup Finals

12. Boston Celtics

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    Boston Celtics, NBAElsa/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 53.2%

    Postseason Record: 11-6

    Division Championships: 4

    Conference Championships: 2

    NBA Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2007-2008. Boston became a contender overnight after acquiring future Hall of Famers Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the offseason.

    Teamed up with All-Star Paul Pierce, the threesome dominated the East and humbled the mighty Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

11. St. Louis Cardinals

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    St. Louis Cardinals, MLBElsa/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 56.1%

    Postseason Record: 8-6

    Division Championships: 6

    League Pennants: 2

    MLB Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2006. Making the postseason after barely getting over the .500 mark, St. Louis was essentially counted out of any potential championship runs.

    This obviously changed after victories over San Diego and New York. Another upset over American League-winning Detroit and the Cardinals were world champions.

10. Boston Red Sox

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    Boston Red Sox, MLBDoug Benc/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 56.6%

    Postseason Record: 8-4

    Division Championships: 1

    League Pennants: 2

    MLB Championships: 2

    Defining Season: 2004. The Red Sox brought pride back to Boston baseball with a historic upset over the New York in the ALCS.

    The hated Yankees held a three games to none advantage before Boston ripped off four straight victories.

    After the stunning turnaround, Boston swept St. Louis in the World Series.

9. Indianapolis Colts

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    Indianapolis Colts, NFLMarc Serota/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 71.0%

    Postseason Record: 9-9

    Division Championships: 7

    Conference Championships: 2

    NFL Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2006. Typically a force only in the regular season, these Colts finally rose to the occasion and defeated the mighty New England Patriots in the AFC championship game 38-34 to advance to Miami and beat Chicago in Super Bowl XLI behind MVP Peyton Manning.

8. Detroit Pistons

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    Detroit Pistons, NBAElsa/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 58.1%

    Postseason Record: 16-8

    Division Championships: 6

    Conference Championships: 2

    NBA Championships: 1

    Defining Season: 2003-2004. Finishing as the runner up to Indiana in the Central division did not faze Detroit one bit as they tore through the Eastern playoffs and beat the Pacers in the conference finals. 

    A relatively easy series victory over the star-studded Lakers in the NBA Finals gave Detroit the crown.

7. New Jersey Devils

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    New Jersey Devils, NHLAl Bello/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 63.0%

    Postseason Record: 13-8

    Division Championships: 6

    Conference Championships: 3

    NHL Championships: 2

    Defining Season: 2002-2003. After winning the Atlantic division by a mere point, the Devils began a playoff odyssey to regain the Cup they earned in 2000.

    The Devils' cast included several household names, none more integral to their third NHL championship than goaltender Martin Brodeur.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pittsburgh Steelers, NFLJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 65.3%

    Postseason Record: 12-5

    Division Championships: 5

    Conference Championships: 3

    NFL Championships: 2

    Defining Season: 2005. This Pittsburgh team became the poster child for the term "road warriors" after an average regular season led to the Steelers' unprecedented run to the Super Bowl as a sixth seed.

    By the time Pittsburgh weathered their AFC opponents' best shots, Seattle was no match in the big game.

5. Detroit Red Wings

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    Detroit Red Wings, NHLChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 68.3%

    Postseason Record: 16-8

    Division Championships: 8

    Conference Championships: 3

    NHL Championships: 2

    Defining Season: 2001-2002. Some consider this group one of the most talented teams of all-time, with 10 future Hall of Famers.

    They certainly brought home the hardware: a Central division championship, the President's Trophy, home ice throughout the playoffs, and most importantly, the Stanley Cup.

4. New York Yankees

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    New York Yankees, MLBRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 59.5%

    Postseason Record: 12-8

    Division Championships: 8

    League Pennants: 4

    MLB Championships: 2

    Defining Season: 2008. In the Yankee's eighth season since their string of world championships ended, New York opened up the sparkling New Yankee Stadium.

    Perhaps a fresh start is what the team needed, as the Bronx Bombers piled up 103 victories en route to a long-awaited World Series victory.

3. San Antonio Spurs

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    San Antonio Spurs, NBARonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 69.4%

    Postseason Record: 20-8

    Division Championships: 6

    Conference Championships: 3

    NBA Championships: 3

    Defining Season: 2002-2003. It is fair to say that this was the year the Spurs did it for David. David Robinson, that is.

    The legendary post man announced that the season would be his last, and MVP Tim Duncan and co. got the the job done by overpowering New Jersey in the NBA Finals.

2. New England Patriots

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    New England Patriots, NFLBrian Bahr/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 2000: 71.6%

    Postseason Record: 14-5

    Division Championships: 8

    Conference Championships: 4

    NFL Championships: 3

    Defining Season: 2001. A year that began with franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe going down with injury ended in one of the most unlikely sports stories in recent memory.

    Little-known backup Tom Brady led the Pats to the Super Bowl against consensus favorite St. Louis, and kicker Adam Vinatieri sealed the deal in the final moments.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Los Angeles Lakers, NBAKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Regular Season Since 1999-2000: 65.1%

    Postseason Record: 27-5

    Division Championships: 6

    Conference Championships: 7

    NBA Championships: 5

    Defining Season: 1999-2000. Although not as dominant in the postseason as they would be a year later, this team tallied 67 regular season victories with outstanding play from Kobe Bryant and league MVP Shaquille O'Neal. The duo brought Los Angeles their first championship since the Magic Johnson era.