The Golden State Warriors are embracing the opportunity to win three straight NBA championships at the 2019 NBA Finals, which begin May 30.
With a possible three-peat, Golden State could join an exclusive fraternity that extends across the major professional sports in the United States. A total of 20 franchises have won three straight championships across the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB and NASCAR. No MLS team has won three straight titles.
With that in mind, Sporting News ranked those three-peating franchises…
20. Toronto Maple Leafs (1947-49)
Coach: Hap Day
Regular season: 85-59-36, 216 points
Star power: General manager Conn Smythe built a team around Hall of Fame captains Syl Apps and Ted Kennedy, both members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Best year: The 1947-48 team scored the most points with 77 and breezed through Boston and Detroit in the playoffs, which included a 4-0 sweep in the Stanley Cup Final.
Legacy: Toronto has another three-peat, but this group set the standard for the other four NHL teams on this list. Smythe also has his name on a coveted trophy, too.
19. Green Bay Packers (1929-31)
Coach: Curly Lambeau
Regular season: 34-5-2, .850
Star power: Lambeau was a player/coach on a team that included Hall of Famers such as Johnny “Blood” McNally, Cal Hubbard and Mike Michalske.
Best year: The 1929 team finished 12-0-1 and outscored its opponents 198-22 before being named NFL champions that season.
Legacy: Those throwback uniforms the Packers wear once a year? Those belonged to these guys. Lambeau established the “Titletown” tradition, and the stadium still honors that memory with his name today.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (1962-64)
Coach: Punch Imlach
Regular season: 105-70-35, 245 points
Star power: George Armstrong, Dave Keon and Frank Mahlovich were the leading scorers, and they were backed by defenseman Al Arbour and goaltender Johnny Bower.
Best year: The 1962-63 team led the NHL in points with 82 and lost just two playoff games. The Maple Leafs capped that Stanley Cup run by beating Montreal and Detroit in the playoffs.
Legacy: These teams featured double-digit Hall of Famers that followed a Montreal dynasty.
17. Minneapolis Lakers (1952-54)
Coach: John Kundla
Regular season: 134-74, .644
Star power: Everyone remembers 6-10 center George Mikan, the NBA’s first great big man, but he was surrounded by Hall of Fame talents in Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin and Jim Pollard.
Best year: The 1952-53 team finished 48-22 in a year in which Mikan averaged 20.6 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. The Lakers won the NBA Finals in five games that season.
Legacy: This is the league’s first dynasty, and Mikan set the tone for other legendary big men, especially with the Lakers, to follow.
16. Cale Yarborough (1976-78)
Team: Junior Johnson and Associates
Regular season: Yarborough won 28 races in that three-year stretch despite switching from Chevy to Oldsmobile in 1978. He won the Daytona 500 in 1977.
Best year: It’s tough to say. He won nine races in 1976 and 1977, including four in a row in the 1976 season, but he won 10 in 1978.
Legacy: Yarborough dominated the sport in the 1970s along with Richard Petty, who won more championships with seven but never won three in a row. Yarborough’s run holds a special place in competitive racing.
15. Houston Comets (1997-2000)
Coach: Van Chancellor
Regular season: 98-24, .803
Star power: The Comets had a big three of Cynthia Cooper, Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes. All three averaged double figures for three consecutive seasons from 1998-2000.
Best year: It’s a toss-up between the 1998 team, which finished 27-3 and lost one playoff game, and the 2000 team, which finished 27-5 and swept three playoff series.
Legacy: This group set a WNBA standard for other franchises to match with four straight championships, and no other WNBA team has managed to win more than two in a row since. Houston, unfortunately, folded in 2008.
14. Montreal Canadiens (1956-60)
Coach: Toe Blake
Regular season: 202-91-57, 461 points
Star power: Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard and Henri Richard were the catalysts for a group that dominated for five years. The top seven scorers on the 1955-56 team are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Best year: That first year is hard to top. The Canadiens finished 45-15-10 for 100 points and breezed through five-game series against the Rangers and Red Wings.
Legacy: No team has won five straight Stanley Cup championships since. Montreal lost nine games in 10 playoff series through that five-year stretch.
13. Cleveland Browns (1946-50)
Coach: Paul Brown
Regular season: 57-6-3, .883
Star power: Hall of Famers Otto Graham, Marion Motley and Lou Groza were the centerpieces of this dynasty, which started in the All-America Football Conference. Mac Speedie and Bill Willis were among the other superstars on those teams.
Best year: The 1948 team finished 14-0 before beating Buffalo by a final score of 49-7 in the AAFC championship game. Graham passed for 25 TDs the season.
Legacy: The Browns won four straight championships in the All-American Football Conference before moving to the NFL in 1950, where Cleveland would win another championship with a 30-28 victory against the Rams.
12. Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02)
Coach: Phil Jackson
Regular season: 181-65, .735
Star power: Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime, and Kobe Bryant was emerging as a full-fledged superstar. The Lakers also had role players such as Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Rick Fox. Jackson had all the right pieces.
Best year: The 1999-2000 team had the best regular-season record, but the 2000-01 team breezed through the playoffs with a 16-1 record. If not for Allen Iverson in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers might have been perfect.
Legacy: Shaq and Kobe. It’s arguably the greatest tandem of all time, one that probably should have captured a few more rings.
11. New York Yankees (1998-2000)
Coach: Joe Torre
Regular season: 299-186, .616
Star power: These were the championship teams built around Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees were loaded with role players and even made some big-time acquisitions like Roger Clemens.
Best year: The 1998 team finished 118-44 and mowed through the playoffs, but all three teams were unreal. New York finished 33-8 in the playoffs those three seasons and never went to a Game 7.
Legacy: New York won four World Series in five years and could have won six in eight but fell short in 2001 and 2003.
10. Jimmie Johnson (2006-10)
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Regular season: Johnson won the Daytona 500 in 2006 and did not stop for the next five years. He won 35 races and finished in the top 10 a total of 81 times in that five-year stretch with a run the sport has never seen – and probably will not see again.
Best year: In 2007, Johnson won 10 races. That included a run of four straight races at the end of the season. He finished with 6,723 points.
Legacy: Johnson did all that in business-like fashion out of the No. 48 car. Tony Stewart ended the run in 2011, but Johnson added two more championships to finish with seven total.
9. Chicago Bulls (1991-93)
Coach: Phil Jackson
Regular season: 185-61, .752
Star power: Michael Jordan took the throne from Magic Johnson and Larry Bird with the help of running mate Scottie Pippen. John Paxson, Bill Cartwright and Horace Grant rounded out the starting five.
Best year: All three teams were similar, and the first winner is hard to forget. But the 67-win team in 1991-92 survived a seven-game series with the Knicks before beating Portland in the NBA Finals in six games.
Legacy: MJ, Phil, Scottie and the Triangle Offense. The image of Jordan switching hands for a layup against the Lakers launched the Bulls’ dynasty, the Dream Team followed soon after and basketball became a global game.
8. Oakland Athletics (1972-74)
Coach: Dick Williams, Al Dark
Regular season: 277-202, .578
Star power: Three Hall of Famers with legendary reputations led the way. Slugger Reggie Jackson, starter Catfish Hunter and closer Rollie Fingers all starred for this team.
Best year: All three years go together. Oakland was pushed to seven games in two of the three World Series, but each team pulled through as part of this remarkable run.
Legacy: These teams had an unmistakable flair that trickled from owner/general manager Charlie Finley. The A’s were the antithesis of the Yankees, and their place in MLB lore is secure knowing they are the only other franchise to win three in a row.
7. New York Yankees (1936-39)
Coach: Joe McCarthy
Regular season: 403-191, .678
Star power: There were Hall of Famers all over the field, but Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey were the core hitters. Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez led the pitching staff.
Best year: The 1936 team scored the most runs. Gomez and Ruffing each won 20 games in 1937. Gehrig played his final full season in 1938, and the 1939 team won the most games.
Legacy: All four teams are legendary, and the final season is best remembered for Gehrig’s farewell speech on July 4, 1939. This is a group that set the standard for the modern Yankee dynasties to follow.
6. Green Bay Packers (1965-67)
Coach: Vince Lombardi
Regular season: 31-9-2, .756
Star power: These Packers roster featured 11 players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Willie Davis and Ray Nitschke, among others.
Best year: The 1962 team that won earlier in the decade would have a case, but the 1966 team lost two games by a combined four points before rolling to a 35-10 win against Kansas City in Super Bowl I.
Legacy: The Packers are the last NFL team to win three in a row and broke in the Super Bowl era driven by Lombardi’s endless quest for perfection. That is why his name is on the Super Bowl trophy to this day.
5. New York Islanders (1980-83)
Coach: Al Arbour
Regular season: 183-88-49, 415 points
Star power: Denis Potvin was the captain all four seasons. Hall of famers Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and goaltender Billy Smith also starred for the Islanders.
Best year: The 1981-82 finished 54-16-10 and barrelled through the playoffs with a sweep of Quebec in the conference finals and Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Final.
Legacy: The ultimate team. Trottier, Bossy, Smith and Butch Goring all earned Stanley Cup MVP honors through this unprecedented run.
4. Montreal Canadiens (1976-79)
Coach: Scotty Bowman
Regular season: 229-46-45, 503 points
Star power: Jacques Lemaire, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden were the star players for Bowman during this run.
Best year: The 1976-77 team finished 60-8-12 and scored 132 points. The Canadiens swept the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final that year.
Legacy: How good were these teams? They had only one more loss than ties in the regular season over four years. Montreal lost 10 playoff games in 12 seven-games series.
3. Chicago Bulls (1996-98)
Coach: Phil Jackson
Regular season: 203-43, .825
Star power: Michael Jordan returned to the NBA after an almost two-year break, and his supporting cast included Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley and the unpredictable Dennis Rodman. Current Warriors coach Steve Kerr was one of the 3-point shooters off the bench.
Best year: The 1995-96 team set the tone for the run with a 72-win season that ended with an NBA Finals victory. The back-to-back series against Utah, however, were littered with clutch plays by Jordan.
Legacy: “Sirius” blaring at the United Center. Rodman diving for loose balls. A smothering defense led by Pippen and Harper on the perimeter. MJ’s last shot. This team could not be stopped.
2. New York Yankees (1949-53)
Coach: Casey Stengel
Regular season: 487-280, .634
Star power: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Mize and Whitey Ford were the core of the post-World War II dynasty that dominated the major leagues.
Best year: New York won between 95 and 99 games all five years, but the 1953 team capped the run with a seven-game World Series victory against Brooklyn.
Legacy: It’s the transition from DiMaggio to Mantle, and the Yankees tormented fellow New York teams with three World Series victories against the Dodgers and one more against the Giants.
1. Boston Celtics (1958-66)
Coach: Red Auerbach
Regular season: 461-165-1, .736
Star power: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek and so many more Hall of Famers. Boston could occupy its own wing of the Basketball Hall of Fame with players on these teams.
Best year: Every year had a memory, and the 1964-65 team had the best win total with 62. Auerbach, however, simply piled up the championships with each season.
Legacy: Auerbach lighting those cigars after each big victory. This is the ultimate dynasty, but the wrinkle is the domination of the Lakers. Russell led the Celtics past the Lakers in five NBA Finals, including the memorable seven-games series in 1965-66.
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