A few notes on recent “repeats” in major teams sports (U.S.)

Since the 2000 season, how often do teams have won championships in back-to-back seasons in the four major (U.S.) team sports? To sharpen the question – how many season champions also won the championship the previous year?

In Major League Baseball, there have been no back-to-back championships – ZERO years in which the champion was the same as the season before. A few franchises have been more successful than others – San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox all won more than one championship in that time period. The 2000s, along with the 1980s, are the only decades since the 1950s when the New York Yankees have not won back-to-back championships.

The NFL had one repeat winner during this time period – the New England Patriots in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The NFL has a repeat champion (or two) every decade – Patriots in 2000s, the Broncos and Cowboys in the 1990s, the 49ers in the 1980s, the Steelers and Dolphins in the 1970s, and the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s. During this period of time, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers have all won multiple championships.

This period in the NBA was dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers – they won the championship 5 times, including three “repeat years.” The Heat and Spurs have also won multiple championships during this time.

As with MLB, ZERO teams have repeated in the National Hockey League since 2000. The New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings both won two championships in this period.

Which league has had the most different winners in that period of time?

  1. The National Hockey League: 10 different winners since the start of their 2000 season. This includes one season lost to a lockout.
  2. Major League Baseball: 9 different winners since the start of the 2000 season. MLB is the only sport of the four without a salary cap. In the early years of this period many decried the lack of competitive balance given the free-spending rules for MLB.  No salary cap emerged (though there is a non-trivial luxury tax, mostly paid by the Yankees) yet – by this simple measure – MLB has very good competitive balance.
  3. The NFL: 7 different winners.
  4. The NBA: 6 different winners.
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