One of the activities that any Chicago sports fan loves to do is rate where their favorite championship teams lie in the history of the city. Cubs fans will clamor that their recent 2016 World Series Championship run is the greatest team ever. Others will yell about the 2005 Chicago White Sox. Recently, Chicago Blackhawks fans have three separate championship teams to build around. However, the Chicago Bulls teams of the 90s don’t exactly lag behind, and the 1985 Chicago Bears team is STILL considered to be one of the greatest teams in history, not just Chicago. So, perhaps the hardest question is this: where do these teams rank all time?
Number 4: The 2013 Chicago Blackhawks
This team was LOADED. They had Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford and many others that just decimated the rest of the National Hockey League (NHL). Sports Illustrated famously dubbed this team “The Franchise That Brought Hockey Back” as the league was reeling from the lockout that erased part of the 2012-13 season. When the season finally opened, fans were still angry at the NHL and the players. The Blackhawks took care of that, as they went on a 24-game point streak that captured the media’s attention for weeks, including SportsCenter, which has been known not to cover the NHL that often. An insane 21-0-3 start to the season resulted in a ridiculous final record of 36-7-5. The Blackhawks captured the President’s Trophy, which is awarded to the team that has the most points throughout the regular season. The reason they are number four was because they didn’t exactly dominate the postseason, being pushed to the brink of elimination against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals. Showing the world just how resilient the Blackhawks are, the team turned a three-games-to-one deficit into a Game 7 overtime victory that sent Chicago to the Western Conference Finals. There, they eliminated the San Jose Sharks and faced the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. This team wasn’t done making history, as the series-clinching Game 6 is most widely known for its nickname of “17 seconds.” With Boston leading late and about to force a Game 7, the Blackhawks scored twice in 17 seconds, sealing the Bruins’ fate and handing Chicago it’s second Stanley Cup championship in four seasons.
Number 3: The 2016 Chicago Cubs
When a 108-year curse is ended AND the “championship window” is still wide-open, it’s hard to give a reason why this team shouldn’t be on the list. The Cubs’ magical run to the World Series actually began in 2015, when they shocked the world and advanced to the National League Championship Series ahead of schedule. While they eventually lost to the New York Mets, the team had gotten a taste of what the postseason was actually like and they didn’t miss a beat. With the team led by Kris Bryant, the eventual 2016 Most Valuable Player, Anthony Rizzo, 2015 Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta, and Addison Russell, the team won 103 games, a staggering 17.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals. While the regular season was fun to watch, this team made its mark in the postseason, starting with the three-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants…in an EVEN YEAR (baseball fans all over will appreciate that one). The Cubs won three games and advanced to the NLCS, where they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers and their ace, Clayton Kershaw. It took six games, but eventually the Cubs downed the powerful Dodgers and advanced to their first World Series since 1945, where they would face the Cleveland Indians. In a World Series that analysts have called an instant classic, the Cubs rallied from a three games-to-one deficit and forced a Game 7, which is one that NOBODY is going to forget. It took extra innings, a miraculous rain-delay (and the heroics of Jason Heyward to call a players-only meeting) and soon enough the Chicago Cubs recorded the final out, and the party was ON. So, what team can possibly top that?
Number 2: The 1985 Chicago Bears
Never has a team been so dominant…and cocky. The 1985 Chicago Bears had one of the best, if not the greatest, defenses in the entire history of the National Football League. Put it this way, when current NFL teams are being compared to this team, it’s almost guaranteed that they deserve a spot on this list. Also, EVERYONE in the city of Chicago knows about the 85 Bears. This has been the standard of every Bears team since the Super Bowl victory, currently the Bears only Super Bowl. This team also personified the phrase, “Monsters of the Midway.” The defense was phenomenal, allowing under 200 points for the entire regular season (an average of just over 12 points per game), Walter Payton in the backfield and Jim McMahon at quarterback. With a regular season record of 15-1, this championship team was actually ranked as the second greatest Super Bowl team in the history of the game according to a 2007 documentary by the NFL Network, just behind the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who consequently have the only perfect season in the Super Bowl era…sorry Tom Brady. This team was good, and they knew it, releasing the masterpiece known as the “Super Bowl Shuffle” before the team even made the playoffs. It actually reached number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and was nominated for a Grammy award. When a team dominates on the field, and apparently the music world, they deserve to be on this list. Not to mention when most kids in the Chicago area grow up saying “85 Bears,” the team has made an impact. So the question remains: who is number 1?
Number 1: The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
Okay, that was a bit anti-climatic. This is the team that had the record for most wins in the National Basketball Association, going an absurd 72-10. They were led by the greatest basketball player of all time in Michael Jordan, and surrounded by Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc and current Golden State Warriors Coach, Steve Kerr. This team was absolutely insane, holding the record for most wins in a single season until the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors won 73 games…but they didn’t win a ring! The Bulls were an absolute force to be reckoned with, as they took that regular season dominance to the playoffs, going 15-3, losing only to the New York Knicks in the Conference semifinals and the Seattle SuperSonics in the Finals. In that dominance, Jordan led the Bulls in scoring in every single playoff game while Rodman did the same with rebounding. In short, this team knew what they were doing, they had fun doing it and they are going to be compared to every team that wins an NBA championship. There might never be another team like the ’96 Bulls, and the rest of the NBA can sigh in relief.
Honorable Mention: The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks
This was the team that started the Blackhawks run of three championships in six seasons. Led by everyone mentioned on the 2013 team, outside of Crawford, this was a team destined for greatness. They won 52 games, setting a franchise record for wins in a season, had 112 points, one behind the San Jose Sharks for the President’s Trophy and went 16-6 en route to winning the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1961. They had dominated the entire NHL, and people took notice as voters took to NHL.com to claim the 2009-10 Blackhawks as one of the greatest teams in the history of the league. Considering that just years before the Blackhawks were actually named the worst team in all of professional sports, this championship felt extra special.
There you have it; these are the four greatest teams in the history of Chicago sports. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment down below!