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Readers' List: Greatest streaks by teams
From the Page 2 mailbag
On Monday, Page 2 offered its list of the greatest streaks, stressing the most unbreakable, by teams in sports history. We asked for your take, and you filled our mailbag with plenty of choices.
1. UCLA's seven NCAA men's basketball titles (48 letters)
First of all, most of the other streaks on the list exceed the second best streak by 50 percent or 75 percent. UCLA's seven titles is 350 percent more than the next best team on the list. Second, UCLA's streak contains within it another unbeatable streak -- 88 straight games won. Third, the argument that UCLA's accomplishment means less because the tournament had fewer games is nonsense. There is no way UCLA would ever have lost to a 16 seed or an eight or a nine seed, so the team derived no particular benefit from playing a shorter tournament.
Los Angeles You've picked UCLA's seven national titles as No. 2, but did not note the more significant streak. UCLA won 38 straight NCAA tournament games, 38 games against the top teams in the country in a single-elimination tournament. Those 38 wins with are a greater accomplishment than the Lakers' 33 wins against some good, some bad teams. In addition, the Lakers' 33 wins were accomplished by one great team. The Bruins' 38 wins were accomplished with four different teams (Hazzard/Goodrich/Erickson, Alcindor, Wicks/Rowe, Walton/Wilkes).
Seattle The streaks are all great, but UCLA's streak outshines all the other professional team streaks because the Bruins didn't get to keep their dominant players over the seven years as professional teams can. And their incredibly dominating streak lasted over a longer period of time than the others. Also, UCLA had absolutely no room for an off-night when you are talking about a single-elimination tourney in a highly competitive sport. Did the Boston Celtics or New York Yankees go undefeated during their playoff streaks?
Newport Beach, Calif.
2. De La Salle High School football team's 119 wins (44 letters)
The greatest streak by a team now currently stands at 119 consecutive victories, following their 64-7 victory over Antioch. Of course, I'm talking about the win streak of De La Salle High of Concord, Calif. De La Salle beat the top two programs in Southern California this year, and there is no end of the streak in sight. It hasn't lost a game since 1991. Enough said.
Walnut Creek, Calif. This is in a sport where you have a completely new team every three to four years, and they have not lost since 1991. The previous record was in the mid- to low-70s. So they have almost doubled that. This has to be there in the top 10, if not No. 1. High school sports are still sports.
3. Philadelphia Flyers' 35 games without a loss (35 letters)
The greatest streak by a team is without a doubt the 1979 Philadelphia Flyers, who went 35 games without a loss. No team since has come close at all and this is one streak that will never be broken. With the NHL as competitive as it is, this feat hardly seems imaginable, yet Bobby Clarke and the rest of the Broad Street Bullies refused to lose. It is difficult for a team to rack up 10 in a row nowadays, which makes this streak even more unbelievable.
Cherry Hill, N.J. They weren't the best team to play the game. They weren't stacked with talent three men deep at every position (à la Wayne Gretzky's Oilers). But somehow the Flyers went 35 games unbeaten. No professional team will, in any sport, ever repeat that accomplishment.
4. Boston Celtics' eight NBA titles (31 letters)
I don't care if there were two playoff rounds or 10. Two playoff rounds means fewer teams in the playoffs, so every team needed to have a great year just to have a shot at the playoffs. Nowadays, you can have a fifth seed in the finals. Fifth seeds back then were playing golf during the finals. Eight straight championships is the most impressive team streak ever, hands down.
5. United States' 24 America's Cup victories over 132 years (24 letters)
I don't know the first thing about racing sailboats, except that when Dennis Conner lost the America's Cup in 1983, it was the first loss for the United States in 132 years. That's 24 consecutive defenses! It was so automatic the United States would win, they named the prize after it. Imagine the Ravens and the Giants battling over the "Cowboys' Cup ..."
6. Atlanta Braves' 10 division titles (22 letters)
The 10 consecutive division titles won by the Atlanta Braves is my choice for most impressive team streak. No team in any major sport -- not the even the legendary Boston Celtics, Montreal Canadiens or New York Yankees -- can make that claim. Consistency is the factor, and in this day of free agency and players asking "what have you done for me lately," we might never again see a core group of players stay with one team long enough to keep its team on top.
Winter Springs Fla.
7. Tennessee's 71 shutout quarters (19 letters)
UT (Tennessee) has a record streak of 17 straight shutouts from 1938 from 1940. For comparison, Nebraska, consistently among the best in the country defensively, has 14 shutouts since 1990.
8. Iowa's nine NCAA wrestling titles (15 letters)
How could the University of Iowa's nine consecutive titles from 1978 through 1986 not appear anywhere on your list? Wrestling is the only sport that requires both team success and individual success in order to win. Two great players can win the basketball title (or one, see Danny Manning and Kansas) and a great QB or RB can carry a football team. But every person has to significantly contribute to win a wrestling championship, and Iowa won nine in a row!
9. Miami Dolphins' 17-0 season (13 letters)
The 1972 Miami Dolphins undefeated season ... no letdown in the playoffs, no beaten by a last second field goal, no rest everyone for the playoffs and let a game slip away, just one full season of greatness, week in and week out, culminating with a Super Bowl championship.
10. Boston Red Sox's 83 years without a World Series title -- and counting (12 bitter letters)
OK, I know it's not a "great" streak, but you should consider it as an amazing streak. How about the fact the Red Sox have not won a World Series title since 1918? I mean it amazes me to know that for almost 90 years, a team has not been able to win a championship with some of the most talented players in history throughout the years. Think about the last time they were in the Series: They were not only one inning away from winning, but they were one strike away from winning: three times! How can a team keep up a streak like that unless they were trying really, really hard to do so? I know this probably won't make the list, but it is an amazing streak.
Honorable mention (five or more letters):
Pittsburgh Penguins' 17-game win streak (11 letters), New York Yankees' 11 straight playoff series wins (10), New York Yankees' 14 straight World Series games won (9), Buffalo Bills' four straight AFC titles (8), Chicago Cubs' 93 years without a World Series title (7), Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak (7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 26 losses (5)
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