Greatest North American Franchises Ever

Craig HortonCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2012

Greatest North American Franchises Ever

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    Some teams are synonymous with winning.

    They are the leaders, the champions and the model teams—the teams others imitate and attempt to duplicate.

    These are the teams that have stood the test of time, produced the Hall-of-Famers and that date back four or five generations.

    These are the greatest of the North American professional franchises ever.

Oakland A's

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    It might be a surprise to see the A's on this list, but they have been around since 1901 when they were in Philadelphia.

    Their first 50 years were managed by Connie Mack, who still leads the majors in wins by a manager with 3776.

    The A's moved to Kansas City in 1955 and then to Oakland in 1968. The A's have won the World Series nine times.

    They won three consecutive World Series' from 1972-1974.

    Those teams featured such greats as Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter.

Chicago Bears

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    The "Monsters of the Midway," the Bears are one of the original members of the NFL. They played the NFL's initial season in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys.

    The legendary George Halas was the coach for 40 years, winning seven NFL championships.

    They have won nine championships including one of the most dominating Super Bowl performances ever. They defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, 46-10.

    The Bears have won more regular season games than any other NFL team.

    The great players who have played for the Bears include Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, Sid Luckman and Bronko Nagurski.

Detroit Red Wings

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    The Detroit Red Wings have existed since they began as the Detroit Cougars in 1926.

    They have won the Stanley Cup 11 times. Their first was in 1936, and they once won four in six seasons between 1950 and 1955.

    After a 42 year drought, the Red Wings won four from 1997 until 2008.

    Over the last 20 years, they have been one of the NHL's best. They have been first or second in their division every year since 1992 and haven't missed the playoffs since 1990.

    One of the greatest to ever play the game, Gordie Howe, spent 25 seasons with the Red Wings. Only Wayne Gretzky scored more career goals than Howe's 801.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    The Cardinals won the World Series last year in improbable fashion. Their playoff spot was not assured until the final day of the season, following a late-season collapse by the Atlanta Braves.

    The Cardinals upset Philadelphia and Milwaukee, before a seven-game Series win over the Texas Rangers.

    It was the 11th World Series win for a team that dates to 1882.

    Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith are among the greats to have played for the Cardinals.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Even though they are on a 45-year championship drought, including seven consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, the Maple Leafs have won more Stanley Cups than any team, except Montreal.

    Like Montreal, they have existed since the formation of the NHL and were the league's first champion in 1918. They also won the Stanley Cup that year, which wasn't exclusive to the NHL at that time.

    In their 94 seasons, they have won the Cup 13 times.

    The Conn Smythe Trophy, presented to the league's playoff MVP, is named in honor of the man who owned the team from 1927 until 1966.

Green Bay Packers

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    Coming from the smallest of all major league markets, the Packers are the most storied franchise in the NFL.

    Their Super Bowl win two years ago was their 13th championship.

    They are the only football team to win three consecutive championships. They have done that twice—1929-1931 and 1965-1967.

    The Super Bowl Trophy is named for former coach Vince Lombardi.

    Don Hutson, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor and Brett Favre are among the NFL greats who have been Packers.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Lakers don't seem to have bad years. In fact, a bad year for the Lakers means they didn't make the Finals.

    They have played in the Finals 31 times in 63 years or about half of all NBA Finals ever played.

    The Lakers have won 16 NBA titles and have missed the playoffs only five times since 1948.

    The Lakers have had two of the best coaches in recent NBA history—Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

    Among the top six scorers in NBA history, four have played in Los Angeles—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

    Perhaps though, the most loved player to have been a Laker was Magic Johnson.

Boston Celtics

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    Maybe the greatest dynasty in American sports history was the Celtics' 11 championships in 13 seasons, from 1957-1969. That run included eight straight NBA titles between 1959 and 1966.

    The Celtics' alumni is a who's who of basketball royalty.

    The great teams of the '60s were coached by Red Auerbach and led by Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn, who later coached the Celtics to more championships.

    Another former Celtic, K.C. Jones, coached the Larry Bird-led teams of the 1980s to two more championships.

    The Celtics continue to excel, having won the NBA Finals as recently as 2008.

Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens are the premiere NHL team.

    They were one of the charter members of the league in 1917 and have won 25 NHL or Stanley Cup titles.

    The Canadiens played in 10 straight Stanley Cup Finals from 1951-1960, winning six—including five consecutive from 1956-1960.

    Great coaches such as Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman have led the Canadiens to Cup titles.

    Their former players are hockey royalty. Maurice "Rocket" Richard, "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy are among Canadien legends.

New York Yankees

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    No team has dominated a sport as the Yankees have. Their 27 championships are more than any other professional team in any sport.

    The Yankee dynasty is not just a thing of the past, but it continues today. They won the World Series in 2009, and will be a contender to do so in 2012.

    How good have the Yankees been?

    In 111 years, they have lost 100 games only twice, and the last time was in 1912. They have finished in last place only five times.

    Since their first World Series win in 1923, they have won at least two World Series' in every decade except the 1980s.

    Some of the most legendary baseball men have played for, or managed the Yankees.

    Miller Huggins managed the great teams of the 1920s, Joe McCarthy won seven World Series' as manager and Casey Stengel won seven also.

    The Yankees won four in a row from 1936-1939, five straight from 1949-1953 and three from 1998-2000.

    No team has had so many great players. They seem to follow each other as a ruling family does.

    Starting with Babe Ruth, to Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter, it's a royal line that extends back nearly one hundred years.

    It's for all these reasons that the Yankees are the greatest of all the North American professional sports teams.