Winning a national championship is challenging. Winning back-to-back titles is uncommon but can occur with the right coaches and roster. And winning three straight titles is rare. But how many North American professional teams have won four or more consecutive championships? Only five MLB, NBA, NHL, and WNBA teams have won four or more consecutive championships – some even more than once.
The Boston Celtics are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers as the team with the most NBA championships at 17. However, this historic program can surpass its California rival in one category: the highest number of successive NBA championships.
From 1959-1966, the Celtics dominated the league, winning eight consecutive NBA championships. It began when Boston’s coach, Red Auerbach, requested a trade for St. Louis’ Bill Russell in exchange for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan in the 1956 NBA Draft. The rest is history.
Bill Russell became the face of the Boston Celtics franchise when he led the Celtics to their first NBA championship in 1957. Also, he obtained 11 championship rings with the Celtics, making him the player with the most NBA championships. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Thomas “Satch” Sanders, and Bill Sharman later joined the team, which cemented the Boston Celtics legacy. To this day, the Celtics’ eight consecutive NBA championships are one of the most impressive feats in any sport.
The Houston Comets were among the first eight teams to play in the inaugural 1997 season of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). They finished with a league-best 18-10 record and defeated the New York Liberty in the first-ever WNBA championship. The following year, the Comets cruised to a 27-3 regular season record and produced a WNBA winning percentage record of 90 percent. During the postseason, the Comets won their second consecutive WNBA championship in a 2-1 series victory over the Phoenix Mercury.
The 1999 and 2000 seasons saw the Big Three of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson boost the Rockets to two more WNBA championships. Ultimately, this franchise won four-straight WNBA championships, the only WNBA team to accomplish this feat and the only professional American team to win four-straight championships in the league’s first four years.
During 1997 to 2000, the Houston Comets accumulated a 98-24 (.803) regular season record and a 16-2 (.889) playoff record. The Houston Comets franchise disbanded in December 2008 due to the lack of an owner. However, the Comets remain as one of the best teams in WNBA history.
The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, which is more than any other NHL team. To put that into perspective, the NHL team with the second most Stanley Cups is the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13. What is even more impressive than their trophies is how many consecutive times they have won the Stanley Cup. From 1956 to 1960, the Montreal Canadiens accumulated four-straight titles.
Fast forward to 1976. Guy Lafleur led the team to a 60-8-12 record: the third-best regular season record in NHL history. The 1976-1977 Montreal Canadiens also hold the record for the most points scored in a single NHL season with 132. This star-studded squad went on to gain this franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 17 years. The Canadiens carried this momentum into the playoffs the following years and secured an additional four consecutive championships, totaling five from 1976-1979.
New York Islanders
As one of the three NHL teams in the New York metropolitan area, the New York Islanders are contenders to be the champions of the Big Apple. The team held this title shortly after the franchise was born.
The team was founded in 1972. After two seasons of developing the roster, the Islanders found their stride. They completed 14 straight playoff berths and earned four Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983. This success stemmed from players such as center Butch Goring, right wingers Duane Sutter and Anders Kallur, and defenseman Dave Langevin, Gord Lane, and Ken Morrow. The Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, the regular season champions, in 1980, the Minnesota North Stars in 1981, and the Vancouver Canucks in 1982. Following that performance, the Islanders swept Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers 4-0 to cap off their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup championship. This achievement makes the Islanders the last team in any major professional North American sport to win four or more consecutive titles.
New York Yankees
An organization that needs no introduction, the New York Yankees have been a powerhouse since the formation of Major League Baseball. This franchise is home to baseball legends Babe Ruth, Mickie Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mariano Rivera, Yogi Rivera, and Derek Jeter. In addition to its countless MVPs, Cy Young, and Gold Glove winners, the Yankees understand how to win baseball games. With 40 World Series appearances and 27 Championship Rings, this program clenches the top spot for the most World Series appearances and victories by any team in the four major North American professional sports leagues.
Within those World Series victories includes two periods of four or more consecutive titles. From 1936 to 1939, the team accumulated four championships and became the first MLB team to achieve four-straight World Series victories. A mere ten years later, the Yankees did it again, only this time they won five straight. The Yankees took the crown from 1949 to 1953.
Can you name the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL teams with the most championships?