15 Legitimate Sports Dynasties

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2016

15 Legitimate Sports Dynasties

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    How do you properly define a legitimate sports dynasty? It starts with championships. Whenever a team can push forth and win a handful of titles in a short period of time, it is immediately stamped with a dynasty seal of approval.

    Recent years—and to be fair, throughout time—have produced mini-dynasties as well as full-on culture-bending ones. The assignment here was to discuss the latter in great detail in a professional capacity only—a collegiate version is coming soon.

    Legitimate dynasties are those who besides having won three or more titles also are teams pegged with personality, superstar talent and consistent winning seasons.

    With all of that criterion in mind, let’s examine 15 teams that met all of those qualifications.

Honorable Mentions

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    Mario Suriani/Associated Press

    Before we spring into the list, there are a select few dynasties that deserve to be mentioned here. The honorable mentions slide was put forth to pay our respects to great franchises that nearly made the cut.

    • Boston Red Sox: 1915-1918
    • Los Angeles Galaxy: 2011-2014
    • St. Louis Cardinals: 1942-1946
    • San Francisco Giants: 2010-2014
    • Washington Redskins: 1982-1991
    • Cincinnati Reds: 1970-1976
    • Detroit Red Wings: 1950-1955, 1997-2002

Chicago Blackhawks: 2010-2015

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    What the Chicago Blackhawks have achieved since 2010 has been remarkable. Praise due to management, because this team was built to win and that's exactly what it did.

    Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews anchor a cast of performers. They are guys who gut it out, score a ton of points and keep the flow and pace quick and to the point.

    Kane is a fluid scoring machine. His league-leading 106 points this season showcase the unique talent that's required to win three Stanley Cups in a matter of five seasons.

    Dynasties in hockey aren't easy to come by. You could argue the last true on-ice dynasty was the Detroit Red Wings from 1997 until 2002—they won three Cups in that timeframe.

    The Blackhawks have already achieved dynastic ways but still have work to do. With Kane, Toews and the surging Artemi Panarin all under the age of 30, the rest of hockey needs to collectively watch their backs.

Dallas Cowboys: 1992-1995

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    RICK BOWMER/Associated Press

    The Jerry Jones we know today is a guy who pushes the limits with his franchise and embraces his celebrity persona. During the 1990s, Jones was also the championship-hogging owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

    Jones' bold decision to hire Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, respectively, put college coaches at the helm of a talent-laden NFL roster. The result was a smashing success, as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders—for one season—churned out three titles from 1992 until '95.

    Dynasties in the NFL have come and gone with the times. During the '90s, it was all about Jones' Cowboys, who were a dynasty jump-started by the infamous Herschel Walker trade in 1989, as ESPN's Steve Wulf canvassed.

San Antonio Spurs: 1999-2014

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    The San Antonio Spurs' greatness can be measured by winning five NBA titles since 1999. But unlike basketball dynasties of the past, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the rest of the Texas crew had to compete with other rival dynasties during their heyday.

    Between the Los Angeles Lakers of the early 2000s and the Miami Heat with LeBron James—which should be deemed a mini-dynasty—head coach Gregg Popovich's group climbed over fearless rungs of competition.

    Duncan, conceivably the best power forward in the sport's history, paved the way. His poised skill set was further enhanced by Parker, Manu Ginobli and in latter years, Kawhi Leonard, turning the NBA's Western Conference into the Spurs' playground.

    Even in perceived down years—like the disappointing conclusion to the 2015-16 NBA season—the Spurs still managed to win 67 games with a 40-year-old Duncan on the roster.

    The Duncan dynasty may be over, but that doesn't mean the Spurs are ready to relinquish power. LaMarcus Aldridge and Leonard are going to make sure of that.

New England Patriots: 2001-2014

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    If the 1990s were all about the Dallas Cowboys, these last 15 years have been focused on the New England Patriots—for a variety of reasons.

    The Patriots are a dynasty shrouded in secrecy. Winning Super Bowls in 2001, '03 and '04, the early part of the decade will be forever remembered as Bill Belichick's coronation as the NFL's top head coach.

    Winning often takes a combination of timing and luck to come together. Tom Brady filling in for an injured Drew Bledsoe was the Patriots' moment.

    Brady now is ranked No. 5 for the most passing yards in NFL history. He's played in six Super Bowls, winning four. He's basically this generation's Joe Montana, and at least for the time being, seems to get better with age—Brady threw 36 touchdowns to seven interceptions last season.

    Even when the Pats aren't winning Super Bowls, they're conquering the NFL in some way, shape or form. The team hasn't experienced a losing season since 2001. That's unheard of.

Edmonton Oilers: 1984-1990

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    STF/Associated Press

    Wayne Gretzky played with four different teams over the course of his NHL career. None impacted his legacy from a winning standpoint more than the Edmonton Oilers.

    Edmonton was a place Gretzky stayed from the time he was 18 until 27. He spent nine years of his life—the core of his youth—with the team and winning soon followed.

    The Oilers turned into one of hockey's mot fearsome dynasties, capturing five Stanley Cups in seven years. It wasn't only about Gretzky. Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson were guys who also ended up in the Hall of Fame.

    Hockey in the '80s was controlled by dynasties. Gretzky's Oilers happened to be the one folks remember the most.

San Francisco 49ers: 1981-1989

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    Associated Press

    Decade hopping has brought us back to the 1980s—a time when Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers represented the cream of the crop in the National Football League.

    Those flowing red-and-gold uniforms the Niners wore on a weekly basis defined the ‘80s. Montana's cool hand and composed persona was the perfect fit for head coach Bill Walsh's innovative West Coast offense.

    What made the 49ers a complete dynasty was consistency. They won four Super Bowls amid the '80s, culminating with a final Montana-led championship in 1989.

    Dominance was part of this team's fabric. Think about this: Counting the regular season only, during the four times they won a Super Bowl trophy, the team posted an absurd record of 52-12.

    All things considered, the 49ers could very well be the greatest dynasty in NFL history.

Los Angeles Lakers: 1980-1988, 2000-2010

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    Dick Raphael/Getty Images

    The Showtime Los Angeles Lakers created a dynasty in the 1980s that rivaled the San Francisco 49ers in football.

    Magic Johnson at point guard was the tell-all, be-all sign that the Lakers were in for a lengthy run atop the NBA. His work with Kareem Abdul-Jabar helped the Lakers gain the upper hand during battles with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons. Those wins remain historic artifacts of perhaps the greatest era in Los Angeles basketball.

    Amid heavy competition, the Lakers pulled off five NBA championships ranging from 1980 to '88. The roster was fun, the offense was smooth and the stars were always present.

    We saw a dynastic reset in 2000. This time, Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal teamed up to win three straight NBA titles and tear apart a hyper-competitive Western Conference—it should be noted that Bryant would go on to continue his solo mission without O'Neal, winning two additional titles in '09 and '10.

    Ranking which team was better is like comparing all of the beaches in Southern California. No matter where you go, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

New York Yankees: 1927-1962, 1996-2000

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    The New York Yankees have been a franchise accustomed to winning. Twenty-seven World Series titles and 40 pennants turned the Bronx Bombers into the gold standard for New York baseball.

    Countless championships usually mean there will be a dynasty somewhere along the way. In the Yankees' case, they have enjoyed four separate, but equally impressive, dynasties.

    Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led the franchise to four World Series titles. Joe DiMaggio's teams in the 1930s and '40s further enhanced that, tallying six championships—with four coming in succession.

    Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra continued Joltin' Joe's ways, securing eight titles during the 1950s into the early '60s, proving each passing decade belonged to the Yanks.

    The dynasty way of life took a hiatus until the 1996 Yankees restarted the trend of winning multiple titles. Those Yankees—manned by Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and others—nabbed four World Series wins from '96 till 2000.

    It's been a whirlwind of winning in the Bronx that's given the franchise an unmatched legacy.

Boston Celtics: 1956-1976, 1980-1986

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    ED WIDDIS/Associated Press

    Figuring out when the Boston Celtics dynasty ended is a challenge within itself. The team was insanely productive from 1957 up until 1986. But we narrowed it down to the first slab of championships, which were won with Bill Russell on the floor.

    The Celtics won eight straight titles from 1957 until 1966. They took over basketball and turned the league into a one-team race.

    Looking back, Russell remains a premier centerpiece for the Celtics' dynasty. He has 11 rings to show for his Hall of Fame career, and few big men were as dominant or selfless on the court as the 6'10", 220-pound center.

    Accomplishing what the Celtics did is now impossible. The way free agency moves and talent shifts, no team in basketball will ever win eight titles in a row. With so much parity in today's game, the Celtics' winning ways have become a lost art.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 1974-1979

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    The NFL seems to get one riveting dynasty every 10 years. In the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers were called on to fill that void.

    A wealth of talent comprised of Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert and others stepped forth and conquered the NFL. Pittsburgh hoisted four Lombardi Trophies in a six-year span, generating a rabid following and cementing this franchise as a go-to AFC contender.

    The Steelers’ prosperity can be directly correlated to head coach Chuck Noll. The four-time Super Bowl-winning coach was one of the all-time great minds to enter football, as Bryan DeArdo of Behind the Steel Curtain explained.

    Because of Noll and his team’s brilliance, the Steelers still enter each NFL season with sky-high expectations.

Montreal Canadiens: 1953-1960, 1965-1971, 1976-1979

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    Associated Press

    The Montreal Canadiens' long-term success resembles only that of the New York Yankees in professional sports. They’ve won 24 Stanley Cups and have divided most of those wins up by unleashing three dynastic eras over three separate decades of play.

    It all started back in 1956. That was the first year the Canadiens were able to tear apart the league, nabbing five consecutive Cups. After a brief break away from the victory podium, the team returned to win four more times in five years from 1965 till ‘69.

    Perhaps no era in Canadiens history is as decorated from a Hall of Fame and coaching angle as the final dynasty. Starting in 1976, the club, led by Scotty Bowman, peeled off four Stanley Cup victories and cemented nine Hall of Famers along the way.

    Dynasties come and go. To have three different ones is a blessing.

Chicago Bulls: 1991-1998

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    What would a list about dynasties be without Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls? If the Boston Celtics ran the 1960s and the Los Angeles Lakers took control of the '80s, the Bulls became heroes of the '90s.

    Michael Jordan established himself as the best player in the world when the Bulls started winning NBA titles. Arctic ice water matriculated through his veins.

    The Bulls claimed six NBA titles starting in 1991. Jordan was unstoppable, Pippen was more than just Robin to his Batman and the rest of the roster, well, it represented the perfect supporting cast.

    Phil Jackson's Bulls could have had more titles had Jordan not retired twice in a span of six years. But that's neither here nor there. With Jordan on the court, the '90s represented an era where all things related to professional basketball flowed through the Windy City.

New York Islanders: 1980-1984

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    We told you earlier hockey in the 1980s was covered by dynasties. The Edmonton Oilers took over from 1984 on, but that wasn’t before the New York Islanders got a turn at polishing Lord Stanley’s Cup.

    Four Cups was all it took for the Islanders to hog the national spotlight. And what’s so great about the Islanders winning was the fact they weren’t a true New York City team.

    Stationed in Uniondale, New York—also known as Long Island—the Islanders did things in a subtle way. Reflecting on the dynasty, Jeff Z. Klein’s New York Times piece characterized the roster as “a low-key group.”

    The club leaned on guys like Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom, Denis Potvin and Billy Smith for strength. It was a strategy that clearly paid off in the end.

Oakland Athletics: 1972-1974

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    Reggie Jackson tends to gain more notoriety for his time with the New York Yankees than the Oakland Athletics, which is crazy.

    It's true Jackson’s Mr. October persona was birthed in New York. However, we can't forget he played a significant role for the Athletics dynasty in the mid-1970s.

    The club procured three straight World Series rings in ‘72, ‘73 and ‘74 with Jackson, Mike Epstein, Sal Bando, Blue Moon Odom and Catfish Hunter driving the gravy train.

    Bay Area fans remember the A’s dynasty for giving them 277 regular-season wins, three championships and some of the coolest uniforms ever worn on a baseball diamond.

Green Bay Packers: 1960-1967

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    Prior to the Super Bowl era and into its early stages, head coach Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers were one of the NFL’s first dynasties. They took over football, winning three championships during the 1960s and the first two Super Bowls in ‘66 and ‘67.

    Having the best talent and best head coach is a surefire way to win a handful of ballgames. Between 1960 and 1967, the Packers posted a record of 82-24-4.

    Green Bay has yet to see an era of football like the ‘60s. Lombardi, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and Jim Ringo were just the tip of the iceberg for how great these Packers really were.

    All stats and information via Sports-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.


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