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.