Which state has won the most professional sports championships?

Which states (along with the nation’s capital Washington D.C.) have the most professional championships in the five biggest team sports in America? For the purposes of this article, I counted all championships won in each of the leagues listed below for football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer.

Which leagues are counted towards championships? 

Football (American Football): NFL, AFL, AAFC, USFL, Arena League, CFL

Basketball: NBA, ABA, NBL, WNBA

Baseball: MLB (NL+AL), NAPBBP, Union Association, American Association

*For baseball before the World Series (1903, 1905-present), I counted championships for which team won the pennant for that year. All World Series before 1903 were considered exhibitions, so I did not count them.

Hockey: NHL, WHA, PCHA, WCHA

Soccer (Football): MLS, NWSL (plus predecessors WPS and WUSA)

States with the most championships

Out of the 50 states and D.C., only 26/51 (50.98%) have one at least one championship in any of these five sports. The top four states of New York, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania 223 championships. All other states and D.C. combined have 268.

Out of New York’s 66 championships, the Yankees have 27 (40.90%) of them. In fact, the Yankees alone have more World Series titles than all but six states (counting NY minus the Yankees total) have fewer total championships across these five sports.

States with the most professional championships

Below is a table showing the number of championships each state has won in each sport. The states with N/A never had a team in that sport in any of the above leagues mentioned.

State Football Basketball Baseball Hockey Soccer Total
Alabama 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Alaska N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Arizona 5 3 1 0 N/A 9
Arkansas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
California 14 20 18 3 9 64
Colorado 5 0 0 2 1 8
Connecticut 0 0 0 0 N/A 0
Delaware N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A 0
Florida 11 3 2 1 0 17
Georgia 0 0 1 0 0 1
Hawaii N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Idaho N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Illinois 12 7 13 6 1 39
Indiana 1 7 N/A N/A N/A 8
Iowa 0 0 0 N/A N/A 0
Kansas N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Kentucky 0 1 1 N/A N/A 2
Louisiana 1 0 N/A N/A N/A 1
Maine N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Maryland 7 1 6 N/A 0 14
Massachusetts 5 17 22 6 0 50
Michigan 10 6 5 11 N/A 32
Minnesota 0 10 2 0 0 12
Mississippi N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Missouri 2 1 16 0 4 23
Montana N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Nebraska N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A 0
Nevada 0 0 N/A 0 N/A 0
New Hampshire N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
New Jersey 0 0 0 3 1 4
New Mexico N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
New York 12 7 37 8 2 66
North Carolina 0 0 N/A 1 1 2
North Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Ohio 13 4 8 0 1 26
Oklahoma 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Oregon 0 1 N/A 0 3 4
Pennsylvania 15 4 17 7 0 43
Rhode Island 1 0 2 N/A N/A 3
South Carolina N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
South Dakota N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Tennessee 0 0 N/A 0 N/A 0
Texas 8 12 1 1 2 24
Utah N/A 1 N/A N/A 1 2
Vermont N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Virginia N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A 0
Washington 2 3 0 1 1 7
Washington D.C. 5 1 1 1 5 13
West Virginia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0
Wisconsin 13 4 1 N/A N/A 18
Wyoming N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 0

States with three or fewer championships

Georgia: Atlanta Braves 1995 World Series (MLB)

Louisiana: New Orleans Saints 2009 Super Bowl (NFL)

Kentucky: Kentucky Colonels 1975 ABA Champions (ABA), Louisville Colonels 1890 pennant winners (AA)

Utah: Utah Stars 1971 ABA Champions (ABA), Real Salt Lake 2009 MLS Cup (MLS)

North Carolina: Carolina Hurricanes 2006 Stanley Cup (NHL), Carolina Courage 2002 Founders Cup Champions (WUSA)

Rhode Island: Providence Steam Roller 1928 NFL Championship (NFL), Providence Grays 1879 and 1884 pennant winners (NL)

Some interesting facts from this information

  • Pennsylvania has the most football championships (15)
  • California has the most basketball championships (20)
  • California has the most soccer championships (9)
  • New York has the most baseball championships (37)
  • Michigan has the most hockey championships (11)
  • Ohio is tied for the 3rd most football championships even though a team from the state has not won since the Browns captured their last NFL Championship in 1964.
  • Rhode Island has as many or more football championships then North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, Louisiana, Indiana, and Tennessee. This is despite all these states currently having NFL teams.
  • Despite being the smallest state, Rhode Island has more championships than 31 states.
  • Maryland is the only state to have won a Grey Cup when the Baltimore Stallions won it in 1995 during the CFL’s brief expansion into America.
  • 17 states have never had a professional team in any of the five major sports.

 

Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “USA State Flag Map” by WonderWhy is licensed under CC BY-2.0

All graphs and tables made using Google Spreadsheet

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/

http://www.remembertheafl.com/AFL.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-America_Football_Conference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Football_League#1983

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Grey_Cup_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArenaBowl

http://www.nba.com/history/nba-season-recaps/

http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ABA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Basketball_League_(United_States)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WNBA_Finals

http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Professional_Base_Ball_Players

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_League_pennant_winners

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_League_pennant_winners

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Association

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Association_(19th_century)

http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=25426

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Hockey_Association

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Canada_Hockey_League

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Coast_Hockey_Association

http://www.mlssoccer.com/history/mls-cup

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Women%27s_Soccer_League

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Professional_Soccer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_United_Soccer_Association

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MVPs and championships in the four major sports (Part 2)

Yesterday, saw the first part of my look at the connection between MVPs and championships in the four major North American sports. Now, the second and final part will look at multi-time winners of both, as well as totals and the unluckiest MVPs who never won a championship.

Note: Any gaps in career span in all tables below are seasons that a player was either retired, completely missed due to injury, was not playing professionally due to WWII/other reasons or there was a lockout.

Players with multiple MVPs and Championships

NBA

Only nine players in NBA history have multiple MVPs and Championships. Three of these players won their championships with multiple teams, Kareem (5 Lakers, 1 Bucks), LeBron (2 Cavs, 2 Heat) and Wilt (1 76ers, 1 Lakers).

Player Position Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Kareem Abdul Jabbar C 1969-1989 6 6
Bill Russell C 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan SG/SF 1984-93, 1994-98, 2001-03 5 6
LeBron James SF/PF 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain C 1959-1973 4 2
Magic Johnson PG/SG 1979-91, 1995-96 3 5
Larry Bird PF/SF 1979-1992 3 3
Tim Duncan PF/C 1997-2016 2 5
Steph Curry PG 2009- 2 3

NFL

Only five players in NFL history have won multiple MVPs and championships (NFL Championship + Super Bowls), with all of them being quarterbacks. The fact that Montana and Young were on the same team from 1987 to 1992 is definitely a historical outlier. Manning (1 Colts, 1 Broncos) is the only one to win his championships with different teams.

Player Position Career # of MVPs # of Championships
Peyton Manning QB 1998-2010, 2012-15 5 2
Tom Brady QB 2000- 3 5
Johnny Unitas QB 1956-1973 3 3
Joe Montana QB 1979-1990, 1992-94 2 4
Steve Young QB 1985-1999 2 3

NHL

Only 14 players in NHL have won multiple Hart trophies and Stanley Cups. Dominik Hasek is the only goalie to have accomplished this. Mark Messier is the only one to win his championships with multiple teams (Oilers 5, Rangers 1).

*Howe played in the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1973-79 and won two Avco Cups (in addition to his 4 Stanley Cups) with the Houston Aeros in 1974 and 1975.

Players Position Career # of MVPs # Of Champ
Wayne Gretzky C 1978-1999 9 4
Gordie Howe RW 1946-71, 1973-80 6 4*
Eddie Shore D 1926-1940 4 2
Howie Morenz C 1923-1937 3 3
Bobby Orr D 1966-77, 1978-79 3 2
Bobby Clarke C 1969-1984 3 2
Mario Lemieux C 1984-97, 2000-04, 2005-06 3 2
Jean Beliveau C 1950-51, 1952-71 2 10
Mark Messier LW/C 1978-2004 2 6
Guy Lafleur RW 1971-85, 1988-91 2 5
Sidney Crosby C 2005- 2 3
Bill Cowley C 1934-1947 2 2
Phil Esposito C 1963-1981 2 2
Dominik Hasek G 1990-2002, 2003-04, 2005-08 2 2

MLB

Only 13 MLB players have won multiple MVPs and World Series Championships. Five of these players (Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and Maris) all played for the New York Yankees.

Player (AL) Position Career Span # of MVP (League) # of Champ
Jimmie Foxx 1B/3B/C 1925-42, 1944-45 3 (NL) 2
Joe DiMaggio CF 1936-42, 1946-51 3 (NL) 9
Stan Musial OF/1B 1941-44, 1946-63 3 (AL) 3
Yogi Berra C/OF 1946-63, 1965 3 (NL) 10
Mickey Mantle CF/1B 1951-1968 3 (NL) 7
Albert Pujols 1B/LF/3B 2001- 3 (AL) 2
Lou Gehrig 1B 1923-1939 2 (NL) 6
Mickey Cochrane C 1925-1937 2 (NL) 3
Hank Greenberg 1B/LF 1930, 1933-41, 1945-47 2 (NL) 2
Frank Robinson OF/1B 1956-1976 2 (AL and NL) 2
Roger Maris RF 1957-1968 2 (NL) 3
Joe Morgan 2B 1963-1984 2 (AL) 2
Johnny Bench C/3B/1B 1967-1983 2 (AL) 2

Jetpack

Totals and takeaways

Sport # of players to win MVP Players with multiple MVPs MVPs who won a championship MVPs without championship MVP never played in championship
NFL 47* 9 (19.14%) 25 (53.19%) 22 (46.80%) 9 (19.14%)
NBA 33 13 (39.39%) 26 (78.78%) 7 (21.21%) 2 (6.06%)
NHL 58 18 (31.03%) 46 (79.31%) 12 (20.68%) 6 (10.34%)
MLB (Total) 151* 31* (20.52%) 94* (62.91%) 57 (37.7%) 29 (19.20%)
MLB (NL) 77* 12 49 28 13
MLB (AL) 75 18 46 29 16

*In 1997 (Brett Farve and Barry Sanders) and 2003 (Peyton Manning and Steve McNair) both won that year’s MVP award as they finished in a tie.

*In 1979 the NL MVP race ended in a tie with Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell sharing the award.

*Frank Robinson counted once towards number of players to win MVP for NL and AL. Only counted once for MLB total, hence the one player difference. Same for MVPs who won a championship. Also counted for multi-MVP total since he has one from both leagues.

C MVP 4 Sports

MVP Winners with 7+ Championships, plus top two for the NFL

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Yogi Berra MLB (AL) 1946-63, 1965 3 10
Jean Beliveau NHL 1950-1971 2 10
Joe DiMaggio MLB (AL) 1936-42, 1946-51 3 9
Maurice Richard NHL 1942-1960 1 8
Mickey Mantle MLB (AL) 1951-1968 3 7
Babe Ruth MLB (AL) 1914-1935 1 7
Phil Rizzuto MLB (AL) 1941-42, 1946-56 1 7
Tom Brady NFL 2000- 3 5
Bart Starr NFL 1956-1971 1 5

Russell spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics. Beliveau and Richard both spent their entire careers with the Montreal Canadiens. Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Rizzuto spent their entire career playing for the Yankees.

Ruth is the only one who played for different teams. He played for the Boston Red Sox (1914-19), then the New York Yankees (1920-34) before spending his final season with the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves.

The two NFL players with the most are Tom Brady (5 Super Bowls) and Bart Starr (2 Super Bowls, 3 NFL Championships), who both have five championships. Like the other players in the table, Starr played his entire career with the Green Bay Packers while Brady has done the same so far with the New England Patriots.

*I did not count Starr’s (or anyone else’s) NFL Championships during the four-year span it overlapped with the Super Bowl.

Amount of MVPs won by MVP winners in the four major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB)

The players with 4+ MVPs

Player Sport Career Span # of MVPs # of Championships
Wayne Gretzky NHL 1978-1999 9 4
Barry Bonds MLB (NL) 1986-2007 7 0
Kareem Abdul Jabbar NBA 1969-1989 6 6
Gordie Howe NHL 1946-1980 6 4
Bill Russell NBA 1956-1969 5 11
Michael Jordan NBA 1984-93, 1994-1998, 2001-2003 5 6
Peyton Manning NFL 1998-2015 5 2
LeBron James NBA 2003- 4 3
Wilt Chamberlain NBA 1959-1973 4 2
Eddie Shore NHL 1926-1940 4 2

Out of the players to have not won a championship in each sport, a total of 19/98 of them are currently playing. Broken down for each sport it is 3/7 for the NBA, 3/22 (NFL), 4/10 (NHL) and 9/57 (MLB).

Only 10 players have won multiple MVPs and never won a championship, with eight of them being from MLB and two from the NBA. Mike Trout is the only one of these players currently playing. Barry Bonds is the only player in the four major sports to have 3 or more MVPs and never won a championship.

Only eleven players across the four major sports have won multiple championships and MVPs but ended up with more MVPs. It has happened six times in the NHL but only five times (Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Foxx) in the other three sports.

 
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Out of the 98 MVPs who never won a championship, 48 of them never played in one. 37 of them only made it there once and lost. That means only 13 (13.26%) got at least a second crack at winning a championship and failed. 12 of these times happened in the NFL or MLB, with it only happening once in the NBA and never in the NHL.

Player Sport Career # of MVPs Championship Record
Terry Pendleton MLB 1984-1998 1 0-5 (13-20)
Gabby Hartnett MLB 1922-1941 1 0-4 (3-16)
Thurman Thomas NFL 1988-2000 1 0-4
Ty Cobb MLB 1905-1928 1 0-3 (4-12-1)
Larry Doyle MLB 1907-1920 1 0-3 (6-12-1)
Phil Cavarretta MLB 1934-1955 1 0-3 (5-12)
Y.A. Tittle NFL 1948-1964 1 0-3
Fran Tarkenton NFL 1961-1978 1 0-3
Alan Page NFL 1967-1981 1 0-3
Karl Malone NBA 1985-2004 2 0-3 (5-12)
Bobby Shantz MLB 1949-1964 1 0-2 (6-8)
Carl Yastrzemski MLB 1961-1983 1 0-2 (6-8)
Josh Hamilton MLB 2007-2015 1 0-2 (4-8)

Karl Malone is the only player in the four major sports to win multiple MVPs, play in multiple championships and never win one. This included losing consecutive NBA Finals with the Jazz in 1997 and 1998.

Terry Pendelton lost five championships, with three of those World Series loses coming in game seven. Two of those were with the St. Louis Cardinals and three with the Atlanta Braves, including back-to-back losses in 1991 and 1992. He was on the Braves from 1991-94 and traded back to them in 1996. The one year he was not on the team in 1995, they won the World Series.

Thurman Thomas made it to four consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills (1990-93) and lost all of them.

Ty Cobb lost three straight World Series (1907-09) with the Detroit Tigers and Larry Doyle lost three straight with the New York (now San Francisco) Giants (1911-13). Y.A. Tittle lost three straight NFL Championship games with the New York Giants (1961-63).

Frank Tarkenton and Alan Page both lost three Super Bowls in four years with the Minnesota Vikings in 1973, 1974 and 1976.

Josh Hamilton lost back-to-back World Series with the Rangers in 2010 and 2011.

 
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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Bill Russell” by Kip-koech is licensed under CC BY 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/mvp.html#all_mvp_NBA

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/awards/ap-nfl-mvp-award.htm

https://www.hockey-reference.com/awards/hart.html

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

Used Google Spreadsheet to make all charts and tables

MVPs and championships in the four major sports (Part 1)

In the last week, the NHL Awards and NBA Awards show took place, with Taylor Hall and James Harden both being named the newest MVP winners in their respective sports. Now the NFL, NBA, and NHL are all in the offseason, while the MLB is still a few months away from the playoffs. So this seems like a good time to take a look at the connections between MVPs and championships in the four major North American sports.

Players with at least one MVP and no championship

NBA

There have been 33 different players to win the NBA MVP award since it was first given out in following the 1955-56 season. Out of these 33 players, seven (21.21%) have never won an NBA Championship. Only two of these players, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose, have never played in an NBA Finals.

Note: Any gaps in career span in all tables below are seasons that a player was either retired, completely missed due to injury, was not playing professionally due to WWII/other reasons or there was a lockout.

Player Position Career Span # of MVPs Champ Record (By Game)
Karl Malone PF 1985-2004 2 0-3 (5-12)
Steve Nash PG 1996-2014 2 0-0
Charles Barkley SF/PF 1984-2000 1 0-1 (2-4)
Allen Iverson SG/PG 1996-2010 1 0-1 (1-4)
Russell Westbrook PG 2008- 1 0-1 (1-4)
James Harden SG/PG 2009- 1 0-1 (1-4)
Derrick Rose PG 2008- 1 0-0

NFL

The NFL does not have an officially sanctioned MVP award. However, the one the Associated Press (AP) gives out is as close as it gets especially since it is the MVP award presented at the league’s annual honor show. The award has been given out since the 1957 season, with 47 different players having won it.

22 (46.80%) of these players never won a championship. This is broken down between 13 quarterbacks, eight running backs, and one defensive tackle. Out of those 22, nine of them never played in a championship game.

Player Position Career # of MVPs Championship/Super Bowl Record
Thurman Thomas HB 1988-2000 1 0-4
Y.A. Tittle QB 1948-1964 1 0-3
Fran Tarkenton QB 1961-1978 1 0-3
Alan Page DT 1967-1981 1 0-3
Larry Brown HB 1969-1976 1 0-1
Ken Anderson QB 1971-1986 1 0-1
Dan Marino QB 1983-1999 1 0-1
Boomer Esiason QB 1984-1997 1 0-1
Rich Gannon QB 1987-2004 1 0-1
Steve McNair QB 1995-2007 1 0-1
Shaun Alexander HB 2000-2008 1 0-1
Matt Ryan QB 2008- 1 0-1
Cam Newton QB 2011- 1 0-1
John Brodie QB 1957-1973 1 0-0
Roman Gabriel QB 1962-1977 1 0-0
OJ Simpson HB 1969-1979 1 0-0
Bert Jones QB 1973-1982 1 0-0
Brian Sipe QB 1974-1983 1 0-0
Earl Campbell HB 1978-1985 1 0-0
Barry Sanders HB 1989-1998 1 0-0
LaDainian Tomlinson HB 2001-2011 1 0-0
Adrian Peterson HB 2007- 1 0-0

NHL

The NHL has given out the Hart Memorial Trophy to each year’s most valuable player since the 1923-24 season. In that span, 58 different players have won the award. Out of these, 12 (20.68%) have never won the Stanley Cup. Between those 12, eight have never played in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Players Position Career # of MVPs Champ Record
Chuck Rayner G 1940-1953 1 0-1 (3-4)
Eric Lindros C 1992-04, 2005-07 1 0-1 (0-4)
Joe Thornton C 1997-2004, 2005- 1 0-1 (2-4)
Henrik Sedin C 2000-04, 2005-18 1 0-1 (3-4)
Billy Burch C/LW 1922-1933 1 0-0
Roy Worters G 1925-1937 1 0-0
Herb Gardiner D 1926-1929 1 0-0
Tom Anderson LW/D 1934-1942 1 0-0
Jose Theodore G 1995-2013 1 0-0
Carey Price G 2007- 1 0-0
Taylor Hall LW 2010- 1 0-0
Connor McDavid C 2015- 1 0-0

MLB (NL and AL)

From 1911-1914, 1924-28 and since 1931 both the National League (NL) and American League (AL) have given out an MVP award at the end of the season. However, in 1923 and 1924 only the AL presented an MVP award.  In 1929, the  NL presented one while the AL did not.

Overall, 77 players have won an NL MVP and 75 have won an AL MVP. However, only 151 different players have won either MVP since Frank Robinson won both an NL MVP (1961) and AL MVP (1966). 57 (37.7%)  MVP winners never won a World Series championship, while 29 have never played in one.

NL

Player (NL) Position Career Span # of MVP Champ Record
Barry Bonds LF 1986-2007 7 0-1 (3-4)
Ernie Banks 1B/SS 1953-1971 2 0-0
Dale Murphy 1B/C 1976-1993 2 0-0
Terry Pendleton 3B 1984-1998 1 0-5 (13-20)
Gabby Hartnett C 1922-1941 1 0-4 (3-16)
Larry Doyle 2B 1907-1920 1 0-3 (6-12-1)
Phil Cavarretta 1B/OF 1934-1955 1 0-3 (5-12)
Paul Warner RF 1926-1945 1 0-1 (0-4)
Chuck Klein RF 1928-1944 1 0-1 (2-4)
Dolph Camilli 1B 1933-43, 1945 1 0-1 (1-4)
Bob Elliott 3B/RF 1939-1953 1 0-1 (2-4)
Jim Konstantly P 1944, 1946, 1948-56 1 0-1 (0-4)
Willie McCovey 1B/LF 1959-1980 1 0-1 (3-4)
Ken Caminiti 3B 1987-2001 1 0-1 (0-4)
Larry Walker RF/1B 1989-2005 1 0-1 (0-4)
Jeff Bagwell 1B 1991-2005 1 0-1 (0-4)
Jeff Kent 2B/1B/3B 1992-2008 1 0-1 (3-4)
Hank Sauer LF 1941-42, 1945, 1948-59 1 0-0
Joe Torre C/1B/3B 1960-1977 1 0-0
Andre Dawson OF 1976-1996 1 0-0
Ryne Sandberg 2B/3B 1981-1994, 1996-97 1 0-0
Sammy Sosa RF 1989-2005, 2007 1 0-0
Joey Votto 1B 2007- 1 0-0
Ryan Braun LF/3B 2007- 1 0-0
Clayton Kershaw P 2008- 1 0-0
Andrew McCutchen CF 2009- 1 0-0
Giancarlo Stanton RF 2010- 1 0-0
Bryce Harper OF 2012- 1 0-0

AL

Player (AL) Position Career Span # of MVP Champ Record
Ted Williams LF 1939-42, 1946-60 2 0-1 (3-4)
Robin Yount SS/CF 1974-1993 2 0-1 (3-4)
Juan Gonzalez OF 1989-2005 2 0-0
Frank Thomas 1B/DH 1990-2008 2 0-0
Mike Trout CF 2011- 2 0-0
Ty Cobb CF 1905-1928 1 0-3 (4-12-1)
Bobby Shantz P 1949-1964 1 0-2 (6-8)
Carl Yastrzemski LF/1B 1961-1983 1 0-2 (6-8)
Josh Hamilton OF 2007-2015 1 0-2 (4-8)
Nellie Fox 2B 1947-1965 1 0-1 (2-4)
Harmon Killebrew 1B/3B/LF 1954-1975 1 0-1 (3-4)
Zolio Versalles SS/3B/2B 1959-1969, 1971 1 0-1 (3-4)
Jim Rice LF/DH 1974-1989 1 0-1 (3-4)
Fred Lynn CF 1974-1990 1 0-1 (3-4)
Jason Giambi 1B/LF/DH 1995-2014 1 0-1 (2-4)
Vladimir Guerrero RF 1996-2011 1 0-1 (1-4)
George Sisler 1B 1915-22, 1924-30 1 0-0
Dick Allen 1B/3B/LF 1963-1977 1 0-0
Rod Carew 1B/2B 1967-1985 1 0-0
Jeff Burroughs OF 1970-1985 1 0-0
George Bell LF 1981, 1983-93 1 0-0
Don Mattingly 1B/OF 1982-1995 1 0-0
Ken Griffey CF 1989-2010 1 0-0
Mo Vaughn 1B 1991-00, 2002-03 1 0-0
Miguel Tejada SS/3B 1997-2011, 2013 1 0-0
Ichiro Suzuki* RF 2001- 1 0-0
Justin Morneau 1B 2003-2016 1 0-0
Joe Mauer C/1B 2004- 1 0-0
Josh Donaldson 3B 2010, 2012- 1 0-0

*While Ichiro transitioned into a front-office role with the Mariners after playing 15 games this season, he said that he is not retiring yet.
Jetpack

Distribution of championships among MVP winners

Amount of championships each MVP winner has won (NBA)

*For the four years (1966-69) the NFL Championship and Super Bowl overlapped before the NFL-AFL merger, I only counted the Super Bowl for the graph below.

Amount of championships each MVP winner has (NFL)

Amount of Stanley Cups each Hart Trophy winner has (NHL)

*Only counted Frank Robinson (two World Series championships) once in the chart, counted him once for both NL and AL in the table showing separate leagues.

Amount of World Series championships each AL and NL MVP winner has (MLB)

World Series Won 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10
NL MVP 28 26 15 7 1 0 0 0 0 0
AL MVP 29 18 12 6 3 1 1 3 1 1

Distribution of MVP Winners in the four major sports

Amount of MVPs won by MVP Winners (NBA)

Amount of MVPs won by MVP Winners (NFL)

Amount of Hart Trophies won by Hart Trophy winners (NHL)

Amount of MVPs won by MVP winners for AL and NL (MLB)

*Counted Frank Robinson’s two MVPs as one for the AL and one for the NL in the table below.

Number of MVPs 1 2 3 7
NL MVP 65 7 4 1
AL MVP 57 13 5  0

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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “Barry heads to left field after driving in 2 with a single in the 3rd” by John is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/awards/mvp.html#all_mvp_NBA

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/awards/ap-nfl-mvp-award.htm

https://www.hockey-reference.com/awards/hart.html

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

Used Google Spreadsheet to make all charts and tables

Every NBA team’s playoff record since the 1999-00 season

Which NBA teams have performed the best and which have underachieved in the playoffs so far this century? Who has the most playoff appearances and who has the least? All of these questions will be answered as this article takes a look at each team’s playoff history over the last 19 postseasons (1999-2000 to 2017-18) using information gathered from Pro-Basketball Reference.

Every NBA team’s playoff record

Below is a table of every NBA team’s basic information, sorted by the number of playoff appearances that each team has. It also shows each team’s overall playoff record and their series record.

Out of the 30 NBA teams, 18 have made the playoffs at least 10 times. The San Antonio Spurs have made the playoff every single year. In contrast, the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Charlotte Hornets have the least appearances having only made it six times.

Team Playoff App Playoff Record Series Record
San Antonio Spurs 19 148-103 (59%) 32-15 (68.1%)
Dallas Mavericks 15 70-78 (47.3%) 13-14 (48.1%)
Miami Heat 14 110-76 (59.1%) 23-11 (67.6%)
Boston Celtics 14 94-89 (51.4%) 17-13 (56.7%)
Indiana Pacers 14 70-75 (48.3%) 11-14 (44%)
Los Angeles Lakers 13 123-75 (62.1%) 30-8 (78.9%)
Portland Trail Blazers 12 30-52 (36.6%) 4-12 (25%)
Oklahoma City Thunder 11 63-60 (51.2%) 11-11 (50%)
Houston Rockets 11 47-53 (47%) 6-11 (35.3%)
Chicago Bulls 11 39-52 (42.9%) 5-11 (31.3%)
Utah Jazz 11 37-57 (39.4%) 7-11 (38.9%)
Detroit Pistons 10 73-64 (53.3%) 16-9 (64%)
Philadelphia 76ers 10 44-52 (45.8%) 7-10 (41.2%)
Atlanta Hawks 10 38-54 (41.3%) 6-10 (37.5%)
Toronto Raptors 10 32-50 (39%) 5-10 (33.3%)
Memphis Grizzlies 10 29-46 (38.7%) 4-10 (28.6%)
Milwaukee Bucks 10 26-43 (37.7%) 2-10 (16.7%)
Denver Nuggets 10 22-42 (34.4%) 2-10 (16.7%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 9 97-55 (63.8%) 21-8 (72.4%)
Brooklyn Nets 9 53-50 (51.5%) 10-9 (52.6%)
Orlando Magic 9 36-42 (46.2%) 6-9 (40%)
Phoenix Suns 8 43-43 (50%) 8-8 (50%)
Washington Wizards 8 29-37 (43.9%) 4-8 (33.3%)
Golden State Warriors 7 77-36 (68.1%) 17-4 (81%)
Sacramento Kings 7 32-32 (50%) 5-7 (41.7%)
New Orleans Pelicans 7 20-29 (40.8%) 2-7 (22.2%)
Los Angeles Clippers 7 31-38 (44.9%) 4-7 (36.4%)
New York Knicks 6 18-28 (39.1%) 3-6 (33.3%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 6 15-25 (37.5%) 2-6 (25%)
Charlotte Hornets 6 14-24 (36.8%) 2-6 (25%)

The Spurs have more playoff appearances this century then seven NBA franchises have in their entire histories. They also have as many or more playoff losses (103) this century then 20 NBA franchises have total playoff games in the same span.
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Best and worst performing playoff teams this century

Over the 19 playoffs that have taken place so far this century only five teams have won at least 55% of their games. The top two teams are the Warriors and the Cavaliers, which is unsurprising considering both have dominated the league in the last four seasons.

On the other end of the spectrum, there have been 10 teams that have won less than 40% of their playoff games. The five worst teams are listed in the table below, with the Nuggets occupying the bottom spot.

Team Playoff Record
Golden State Warriors 77-36 (68.1%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 97-55 (63.8%)
Los Angeles Lakers 123-75 (62.1%)
Miami Heat 110-76 (59.1%)
San Antonio Spurs 148-103 (59%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 15-25 (37.5%)
Charlotte Hornets 14-24 (36.8%)
Portland Trail Blazers 30-52 (36.6%)
Los Angeles Clippers 21-38 (35.6%)
Denver Nuggets 22-42 (34.4%)

Every NBA team's playoff wining percentage this century (2000-2018 playoffs, by game not series) (1)

In terms of winning playoff series, only six teams have won over 60% of the ones they have played in this century. Unsurprisingly, it is the same five teams from the above table, plus the Detroit Pistons. Only six teams have worst than a 25% series win rate, with the Bucks and Nuggets tying for last place.

Team Series Record
Golden State Warriors 17-4 (81%)
Los Angeles Lakers 30-8 (78.9%)
Cleveland Cavaliers 21-8 (72.4%)
San Antonio Spurs 32-15 (68.1%)
Miami Heat 23-11 (67.6%)
Detroit Pistons 16-9 (64%)
Minnesota Timberwolves 2-6 (25%)
Charlotte Hornets 2-6 (25%)
Portland Trail Blazers 4-12 (25%)
New Orleans Pelicans 2-7 (22.2%)
Milwaukee Bucks 2-10 (16.7%)
Denver Nuggets 2-10 (16.7%)

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Playoff sweeps so far this century

Out the 285 series to be played over these past 19 playoffs, there has been a total of 53 sweeps to take place. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the most accounting for 10 (18.86%) of all sweeps. Golden State has the most sweeps (5) without having been swept.

Meanwhile, the Hoston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers stand out for having not swept anyone or gotten swept this century. The Memphis Grizzlies have been swept the most (five times), one more than Toronto, Atlanta, and Portland.

Team Swept Opponent Got Swept
Cleveland Cavaliers 10 2
Los Angeles Lakers 7 2
San Antonio Spurs 7 3
Golden State Warriors 5 0
Miami Heat 5 2
Dallas Mavericks 3 1
Brooklyn Nets 3 2
Phoenix Suns 2 0
Orlando Magic 2 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 1 0
Chicago Bulls 1 0
Indiana Pacers 1 1
New Orleans Pelicans 1 1
Washington Wizards 1 2
New York Knicks 1 2
Charlotte Hornets 1 2
Boston Celtics 1 3
Detroit Pistons 1 4
Houston Rockets 0 0
Philadelphia 76ers 0 0
Milwaukee Bucks 0 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 0 1
Los Angeles Clippers 0 1
Denver Nuggets 0 1
Sacramento Kings 0 1
Utah Jazz 0 3
Atlanta Hawks 0 4
Toronto Raptors 0 4
Portland Trail Blazers 0 4
Memphis Grizzlies 0 5

Getting to each playoff round

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs everytime they have made the playoffs. Detroit has the best ratio of making it out of the 2nd round, having done so 6/7 times. Meanwhile, the Lakers are the best at getting to the Finals, having made it there every time (7/7) they got to the conference championship round.

Only four teams have never made it to the conference championship round so far this century. The Washington Wizards have the most playoff appearances (8), without having reached the conference championship round. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have the most playoff appearances (12) without having reached the Finals.

Team Playoff App. 2nd Round App. Conf. Champ App. Finals App.
Los Angeles Lakers 13 10 7 7
San Antonio Spurs 19 14 9 5
Miami Heat 14 9 6 5
Cleveland Cavaliers 9 9 6 5
Golden State Warriors 7 6 4 4
Boston Celtics 14 9 6 2
Detroit Pistons 10 7 6 2
Dallas Mavericks 15 7 3 2
Brooklyn Nets 9 6 2 2
Indiana Pacers 14 6 4 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 11 6 4 1
Orlando Magic 9 3 2 1
Philadelphia 76ers 10 5 1 1
Phoenix Suns 8 5 3 0
Houston Rockets 11 4 2 0
Utah Jazz 11 6 1 0
Sacramento Kings 7 4 1 0
Toronto Raptors 10 4 1 0
Atlanta Hawks 10 5 1 0
Chicago Bulls 11 4 1 0
Portland Trail Blazers 12 3 1 0
Memphis Grizzlies 10 3 1 0
New York Knicks 6 2 1 0
Denver Nuggets 10 1 1 0
Milwaukee Bucks 10 1 1 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 6 1 1 0
Los Angeles Clippers 7 4 0 0
Washington Wizards 8 4 0 0
New Orelans Pelicans 7 2 0 0
Charlotte Hornets 6 2 0 0

NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors have dominated this century so far, winning 15/19 (78.94%) of all NBA Finals. All 19 NBA Finals have featured at least one of these four teams playing for the championship.

The Western Conference has been dominated by the Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors who have 16/19 (84.21%) total Finals appearances. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference has been dominated by LeBron James, who has taken the Heat and Cavaliers to the Finals 9/15 (60%) times since he entered the league.

Team Finals App Finals W/L Finals Game Record
Los Angeles Lakers 7 5-2 23-15
San Antonio Spurs 5 4-1 19-10
Miami Heat 5 3-2 15-14
Cleveland Cavaliers 5 1-4 7-19
Golden State Warriors 4 3-1 15-7
Detroit Pistons 2 1-1 7-5
Boston Celtics 2 1-1 7-6
Dallas Mavericks 2 1-1 6-6
Brooklyn Nets 2 0-2 2-8
Indiana Pacers 1 0-1 2-4
Oklahoma City Thunder 1 0-1 1-4
Orlando Magic 1 0-1 1-4
Philadelphia 76ers 1 0-1 1-4

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “2014 NBA Playoffs” by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/ (Used to get playoff information for each team)

https://www.printyourbrackets.com/winning-percentage-calculator.php (Used to find win percentage for each team)

LeBron James: An NBA Finals history

The 2017-18 NBA Finals ended a few days ago with the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers. While this Finals saw a lot of historical notes, it was the eighth consecutive one that LeBron James played in, an accomplishment only matched by several 1960s Boston Celtics players. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at how LeBron has performed over the 49 Finals games he has played in across nine series.

Minutes played

LeBron James has played at least 40 minutes in 40/49 (81.63%) of NBA Finals games that he has played in. His most minutes played in a Finals games was when he logged 50:20 in the Cavs game two win in 2015.

Minutes

Points

LeBron has scored at least 30 points in 21 (42.85%) Finals games and at least 20 points in 41 (83.67%) of them. His best performance came this past Finals, where he dropped 51 points in game one, while his worst showing was in game four back in 2011 when he only managed 8 points.

Points

Rebounds and Assists

LeBron has nabbed at least 10 rebounds in 26 (53.06%) Finals games. He has gotten 18 rebounds twice, in game one in 2013 and game six of the 2015 Finals. The only times he managed less then five rebounds was in game three and game six of the 2011 Finals.

Rebounds

LeBron has dished out at least 10 assists in 14 (28.57%) Finals games. His best dime dropping was in game two of the 2017 Finals when he had 14, while his worst performance was in game four of the 2014 Finals when he only managed two.

Assists

Steals, Blocks, and Turnovers

LeBron has had at least one steal in 37 (75.51%) of the Finals games he’s played in. His best performance was when he had five against the Spurs in the Heat’s game three loss in 2014.

Steals

LeBron has swatted at least one shot in 26 (53.06%) of NBA Finals games he has played in. From game seven in 2013 to game four in 2014 he had a five-game drought in the Finals without a block. LeBron recorded three blocks in game two in 2013 and four straight games to close out the 2016 series against the Warriors.

Blocks

LeBron has had 15 (30.61%) Finals games with two or fewer turnovers. He has had five games with only one, while his worst showing was the eight he had in game one of the 2017 Finals.

Turnovers

Shots taken and shooting percentages

LeBron has taken at least 30 shots in a Finals game nine times, five of which came in the 2015 Finals against the Warriors. The 19 shots he made in game one of this year’s Finals tied 2017’s game five for the most he has made. He has shot at least 50% from the field 21 times in the Finals and shot under 40% 10 times.

Field Goals

Field Goal %

LeBron made a Finals high five three-pointers in game seven of the 2013 Finals. He has also had seven games where he did not make a single one. The only time he has shot 100% from three was in game two of the 2014 Finals when he went 3-3.

3 Pointers

3P%

LeBron’s high in free throws made and attempted came in game two of the 2015 Finals when he went 14-18 from the line. His best showing was in game two of the 2012 Finals when he went a perfect 12-12. In game three of the 2013 Finals, he did not attempt a single free-throw.

Free Throws

Free Throw %

Plus/Minus

In LeBron’s 49 NBA Finals games, he has had a positive plus/minus in 19 (38.77%) of them and a negative plus/minus in 28 (57.14%) of them. He has also had a plus/minus of zero twice. His best plus/minus was +32 in game four of the 2017 Finals, while his worst was -32 in game three of the 2013 Finals.

Plus Minus

Total averages for each series

Below are LeBron’s per game averages for each NBA Finals series that he has played in. The table after that show how many double-doubles and triple-doubles he recorded in each series.

Series Result MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO
07 Spurs 0-4 42.5 22.0 7.0 6.8 1.0 0.5 5.8
11 Mavs 2-4 43.7 17.8 7.2 6.8 1.7 0.5 4.0
12 OKC 4-1 44.0 28.6 10.2 7.4 1.6 0.4 3.8
13 Spurs 4-3 43.1 25.3 10.9 7.0 2.3 0.9 2.6
14 Spurs 1-4 38.0 28.2 7.8 4.0 2.0 0.4 3.8
15 GSW 2-4 45.8 35.8 13.3 8.8 1.3 0.5 3.5
16 GSW 4-3 42.0 29.7 11.3 8.9 2.6 2.3 4.4
17 GSW 1-4 42.4 33.6 12.0 10 1.4 1.0 4.2
18 GSW 0-4 45.0 34.0 8.5 10 1.3 1.0 5.0
Series Field Goals (%) Three-Pointers (%) Free Throws (%)
07 Spurs 8.0-22.5 (35.6%) 1.0-5.0 (20.0%) 5.0-7.3 (69.0%)
11 Mavs 7.2-15 (47.8%) 1.5-4.7 (32.1%) 2.0-3.3 (60.0%)
12 OKC 10.2-21.6 (47.2%) 0.6-3.2 (18.8%) 7.6-9.2 (82.6%)
13 Spurs 9.6-21.4 (44.7%) 1.7-4.9 (35.3%) 4.4-5.6 (79.5%)
14 Spurs 10.4-18.2 (57.1%) 2.8-5.4 (51.9%) 4.6-5.8 (79.3%)
15 GSW 13.0-32.7 (39.8%) 2.2-7.0 (31.0%) 7.7-11.2 (68.7%)
16 GSW 11.7-23.7 (49.4%) 1.9-5.0 (37.1%) 4.4-6.1 (72.1%)
17 GSW 13.2-23.4 (56.4%) 2.4-6.2 (38.7%) 4.8-7.4 (64.9%)
18 GSW 12.3-23.3 (52.7%) 1.5-4.5 (33.3%) 8.0-9.5 (84.2%)
NBA Finals Series Double-Double Triple-Double
07 Spurs 1 0
11 Mavs 0 1
12 OKC 2 1
13 Spurs 3 2
14 Spurs 2 0
15 GSW 3 2
16 GSW 5 1
17 GSW 3 2
18 GSW 1 1

As I mentioned in my article looking back on the 2017-18 NBA Finals, LeBron’s 51-point performance was only the sixth in history during the Finals. This performance gave LeBron his seventh 40 plus point game in the Finals, only behind Jerry West who has ten.

In the 49 NBA Finals games, Lebron James has played in his teams have an 18-32 record and a 3-6 series record. He has recorded 21 double-doubles and an NBA Finals record 10 triple-doubles.

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “LeBron James” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/j/jamesle01.html (Used game log to note stats from each Finals game he played in)

http://www.espn.com/nba/player/gamelog/_/id/1966/year/2007/lebron-james (Used to get LeBron’s averages for each Finals series)

All table and graphs made using Google Spreadsheet

Looking back at the 2017-18 NBA Finals

Last night the Golden State Warriors easily defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to pull off the NBA’s first Finals sweep in over a decade. It also gave the Warriors their third championship in four years, as they managed to once again overwhelm LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

What this means historically for the Warriors and Cavs

This win gives the Warriors their third championship in four years. This puts them in elite company in the history of the NBA in terms of teams who won three titles in four years or less. They are also only the third team to win back-to-back championships while only losing one game in the Finals.

*The early 1950s Lakers and 1960s Celtics ended up overlapping each other by definition.

Team Years (Span) Finals made in span Record in Finals
Minneapolis Lakers *Four Years (1949-52) 3 3-0
Minneapolis Lakers *Three Years (1952-54) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1957-60) 4 3-1
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1960-62) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1961-63) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1962-64) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1963-65) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Three Years (1964-66) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1965-68) 3 3-0
Boston Celtics *Four Years (1966-69) 3 3-0
Los Angeles Lakers Four Years (1985-88) 4 3-1
Chicago Bulls Three Years (1991-93) 3 3-0
Chicago Bulls Three Years (1996-98) 3 3-0
Los Angeles Lakers Three Years (2000-02) 3 3-0
Golden State Warriors Four Years (2015-18) 4 3-1
Team Span Finals Record
Detriot Pistons 1988-1990 8-1
Los Angeles Lakers 2000-2002 8-1
Golden State Warriors 2016-2018 8-1

In getting swept by the Warriors, the Cavaliers became only the ninth team to get swept in the NBA Finals. Ironically, the last team to get swept in the Finals was also the LeBron led Cavs back in 2007.

Team that got swept Opponent Year
Minneapolis Lakers Boston Celtics 1959
Baltimore Bullets Milwaukee Bucks 1971
Washington Bullets Golden State Warriors 1975
Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers 1983
Los Angeles Lakers Detroit Pistons 1989
Orlando Magic Houston Rockets 1995
New Jersey Nets Los Angeles Lakers 2002
Cleveland Cavaliers San Antonio Spurs 2007
Cleveland Cavaliers Golden State Warriors 2018

The Cavaliers also joined the small list of NBA teams who lost three Finals in a four-year span or less.

*The 1960s Lakers spans all ended up overlapping with each other.

Team Span (Years) Finals Record
New York Knicks Three Years (1951-53) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1962-65) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1963-66) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1965-68) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Four Years (1966-69) 0-3
Los Angeles Lakers *Three Years (1968-70) 0-3
Cleveland Cavaliers Four Years (2015-18) 1-3

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The Ying and Yang of Steph Curry

In their game two victory, Steph Curry set the NBA playoffs and Finals record by making nine three-pointers. Since the NBA added the three-point line in 1979-80, there have only been 13 occasions where a player has made at least seven three-pointers in a playoff game. Curry is now responsible for five of those after making seven in game four on top of his game two performance.

However, he followed that up with a disastrous performance in game three. Curry was 3-16 from the field, making it only the 79th playoff game (since 1963-64) in which a player took at least that many shots and made three or fewer.

He was also 1-10 from beyond the arc. This made him only the ninth person to take at least ten three-pointers in a playoff game and make one or fewer. This game is also what likely cost him the Finals MVP.

With the Warriors third championship, Steph Curry joins a small group of eight players in the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) to win at least two MVPs and three championships in a four-year span.

*All of Russell’s years overlap with each other by definition of this, as does Gretzky’s 1987 season.

Players Sport Span MVPs Championships
Joe DiMaggio MLB 1938-41 2 3
Yogi Berra MLB 1951-54 2 3
Gordie Howe NHL 1952-55 2 3
Bill Russell NBA *1958-61 2 3
Bill Russell NBA *1961-64 3 4
Bill Russell NBA *1962-65 3 4
Bill Russell NBA *1963-66 2 4
Guy Lafleur NHL 1977-80 2 3
Wayne Gretzky NHL *1984-87 4 3
Wayne Gretzky NHL *1987-90 2 3
Michael Jordan NBA 1990-93 2 3
Michael Jordan NBA 1995-98 2 3
Steph Curry NBA 2015-18 2 3

*While this has never happened in the NFL and never took place in the AFL, it did happen in the AAFC (merged with NFL in 1949). In four years (1946-49), Otto Graham won 2 MVPs and 4 championships.

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Durant and LeBron’s historic performances

In game three of the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant dropped 43 points to give the Warriors an insurmountable 3-0 led over the Cavaliers. This game was the catalyst to him earning his second Finals MVP and a playoff career high for him.

His 43 points were the most by a Warriors player in the playoffs since Curry’s 44 point performance against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013. It was the most by a Warriors player in the Finals since 1967, when Rick Barry scored 44 in game six.

In game one of the NBA Finals, LeBron James dropped 51 points. This made LeBron only the 12th player (20th occurrence) since 1963-64 to score at 50 points in a playoff game. However, the Cavaliers lost the game in heartbreaking fashion due to some slight time mismanagement at the end of regulation before losing in overtime.

*Bob Pettit’s game log on Basketball-Reference has no assists tally for that game

Players Year (Game, Result) Series Result Points Rebounds Assists FG%
Elgin Baylor 1962 (Game 5, Win) Lost 4-3 61 22 1 47.80%
Michael Jordan 1993 (Game 4, Win) Won 4-2 55 8 4 56.80%
Rick Barry 1967 (Game 3, Win) Lost 4-2 55 12 5 45.80%
Jerry West 1969 (Game 1, Win) Lost 4-3 53 3 10 51.20%
LeBron James 2018 (Game 1, OT Loss) Lost 4-0 51 8 8 59.40%
Bob Pettit 1958 (Game 6, Win) Won 4-2 50 19 N/A* 55.90%

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Sources and Info: (All sources not listed here linked/mentioned in the article)

Featured Image: “2014 NBA Finals logo” by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Most_Valuable_Player_Award

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart_Memorial_Trophy

https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/mvp_cya.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-America_Football_Conference#Most_Valuable_Player

https://www.basketball-reference.com/ (Used to find the box score for players with over 50 points in NBA Finals)

The rarity of Cavs-Warriors IV in sports

Game one of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors tips off tonight. With that in mind, let’s take a look into the historical rareness of the same two teams meeting for a fourth consecutive season to play each other for a championship.

NBA

This is the 14th time in NBA history that the same two teams have met in the Finals for at least two consecutive seasons. The Cavaliers and Warriors are the first to ever meet three (and four) times in a row for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Teams Years Result
Minneapolis Lakers v. New York Knicks (2) 1952-53 Lakers 2-0
Boston Celtics v. St. Louis Hawks (2) 1957-58 Split 1-1
Boston Celtics v. St. Louis Hawks (2) 1960-61 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1962-63 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1965-66 Celtics 2-0
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1968-69 Celtics 2-0
Los Angeles Lakers v. New York Knicks (2) 1972-73 Split 1-1
Seattle Supersonics v. Washington Bullets (2) 1978-79 Split 1-1
Los Angeles Lakers v. Philadelphia 76ers (2) 1982-83 Split 1-1
Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1984-85 Split 1-1
Detroit Pistons v. Los Angeles Lakers (2) 1988-89 Split 1-1
Chicago Bulls v. Utah Jazz (2) 1997-98 Bulls 2-0
Miami Heat v. San Antonio Spurs (2) 2013-14 Split 1-1
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Golden State Warriors (4) 2015-18 Warriors 2-1

NFL

In the NFL, there have only been eight times where the same two teams met in the Championship Game consecutive times. Since the Super Bowl era started in 1967, it has only happened once.

Teams Years Result
Chicago Bears v. New York Giants (2) 1933-34 Split 1-1
Green Bay Packers v. New York Giants (2) 1938-39 Split 1-1
Chicago Bears v. Washington Redskins (2) 1942-43 Split 1-1
Cleveland Browns v. Los Angeles Rams (2) 1950-51 Split 1-1
Cleveland Browns v. Detroit Lions (3) 1952-54 Lions 2-1
Baltimore Colts v. New York Giants (2) 1958-59 Colts 2-0
Green Bay Packers v. New York Giants (2) 1961-62 Packers 2-0
Buffalo Bills v. Dallas Cowboys (2) 1993-94 Cowboys 2-0

MLB

There have been nine times in baseball history that two teams played each other consecutive years in the World Series. However, it has only happened only since 1960 and last took place four decades ago.

Teams Years Result
Chicago Cubs v. Detroit Tigers (2) 1907-08 Cubs 2-0
New York Giants v. New York Yankees (3) 1921-23 Giants 2-1
Philadelphia Athletics v. St. Louis Cardinals (2) 1930-31 Split 1-1
New York Giants v. New York Yankees (2) 1936-37 Yankees 2-0
New York Yankees v. St. Louis Cardinals (2) 1942-43 Split 1-1
Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1952-53 Yankees 2-0
Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1955-56 Split 1-1
Milwaukee Braves v. New York Yankees (2) 1957-58 Split 1-1
Los Angeles Dodgers v. New York Yankees (2) 1977-78 Yankees 2-0

NHL

The NHL has seen eight teams meet at least back-to-back times to play for the Stanley Cup. However, it has only happened once in the last four decades.

Teams Years Result
New York Rangers v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1932-33 Split 1-1
Detroit Red Wings v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1948-49 Leafs 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Montreal Canadiens (3) 1954-56 Red Wings 2-1
Montreal Canadiens v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1959-60 Canadiens 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Toronto Maple Leafs (2) 1963-64 Leafs 2-0
Montreal Canadiens v. St. Louis Blues (2) 1968-69 Canadiens 2-0
Boston Bruins v. Montreal Canadiens (2) 1977-78 Canadiens 2-0
Detroit Red Wings v. Pittsburgh Penguins (2) 2008-09 Split 1-1

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Three-peat matchups in the big four

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meeting for a fourth straight time is truly historical among the combined histories of the four major North American sports.

It is not a surprise that the NBA was the first league to do so. Since 1980 there have been six times in the NBA two teams played each other back-to-back years for the championship. In the MLB, NFL and NHL combined it has happened twice in that same span.

Teams Sport Years Result
New York Giants v. New York Yankees MLB (3) 1921-23 Giants 2-1
Cleveland Browns v. Detroit Lions NFL (3) 1952-54 Lions 2-1
Detroit Red Wings v. Montreal Canadiens NHL (3) 1954-56 Red Wings 2-1
Cleveland Cavaliers v. Golden State Warriors NBA (4) 2015-18 Warriors 2-1

Four-peat matchups in other sports

While the Cavaliers and Warriors meeting for a four straight time is historical among the four major North American sports, how often has it happened in sports in general? I took a look at championship matchups in various other professional, Olympic and college sports to see if anything like this had occurred before.

Players/Teams Sport/Event Event Year/Span Result
USA v. Canada Hockey World Championships Met in 4 straight gold medal games 1931-34 Championships* 3-1 Canada
USA v. Soviet Union Olympic Men’s Basketball Met in 4 straight gold medal games 1952, 56, 60 and 64 Olympics 4-0 USA
S.Williams v. V.Williams Women’s Singles Tennis Met in 4 straight majors 2002 French Open to 2003 Aus Open 4-0 S. Williams
Mount Union v. Wisconsin-Whitewater Division III College Football Met in 7 straight championship games 2005-2011 4-3 Wisconsin
Djokovic v. Nadal Men’s Singles Tennis Met in 4 straight majors 2011 Wimbledon to 2012 French Open 3-1 Djokovic
Cavaliers v. Warriors NBA Met in 4 straight NBA Finals 2014-15 to 2017-18 2-1 Warriors

*The 1932 Winter Olympic’s Ice Hockey Tournament also counted as the World Championship

List of all sports/leagues checked:

Soccer: MLSWorld Cup, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League

Basketball: NBLABAG-League, WNBAEuroLeague, EuroLeague WomenFIBA World Championship

Baseball: Japan Championship Series, Baseball World Cup, World Baseball Classic

Hockey: WHAMemorial Cup Champions (CHL)KHL (Gagarin Cup)World Championships

Football: AAFC, AFL, CFL, Arena League

Tennis: Men & Women’s Singles in majors

Lacrosse: National Lacrosse League

Cricket: ICC Champions Trophy

Darts: World Professional Darts Championship

Summer Olympics: Men & Women’s Singles Tennis, Men & Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men and Women’s Soccer

Winter Olympics: Men & Women’s Hockey, Men & Women’s Curling

College Sports (Division I): Football (BCS) (Playoff) (FCS), Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Women’s Hockey, Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (D II): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s HockeyMen’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (D III): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Women’s HockeyMen’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer

College Sports (NAIA): Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Men’s Hockey, Men’s Soccer
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Sources and Info:

Featured Image: “SD attends NBA Finals” by James N. Mattis is licensed under CC BY-2.0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NBA_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NFL_champions_(1920%E2%80%931969)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_Bowl_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Series_champions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Stanley_Cup_champions