Before the Warriors: 11 G.O.A.T. Teams You Should Not Be Forgetting

RealClear Staff


What the Golden State Warriors have accomplished -- a 73-9 NBA regular season -- is amazing. While we're not ready to crown them one of the Greatest Of All Time teams just yet, their accomplishments have re-sparked that never ending debate...

Miracle on Ice? Dream Team? '85 Bears (And the Super Bowl Shuffle)? See where these unforgettable teams rank on the "Greatest Of All Time" list.

1. The 1980 Miracle on Ice Team

"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" screamed ABC announcer Al Michaels. The United States hockey team, a rag-tag collection of amateurs and collegiate players, came from behind to beat the vaunted Soviet Union, a program that had won six of the last seven gold medals with hardened professional players, 4-3 in the Olympic semifinals at Lake Placid, New York. The Americans would go on to beat Finland 4-2, again coming from behind, to win the gold medal. Coach Herb Brooks, captain Mike Eruzione, goalie Jim Craig and others became legends.

2. The 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

The "Showtime" Lakers won five NBA titles in the 1980s behind Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Co. -- no small feat when you consider the Celtics (Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale), 76ers (Dr. J) and Pistons (Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer) were also in their prime. L.A.'s best team was likley the '86-87 team. Johnson won his first career MVP Award while leading the Lakers to a 65–17 record and Michael Cooper was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals by sweeping the Nuggets, defeating the Warriors in five games, and sweeping the SuperSonics in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers defeated Boston in six games, the series highlighted by Johnson's running "baby hook" shot to win Game 4 at Boston Garden. 

3. The 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup Team

When Brandi Chastain made the winning penalty kick to beat China before 90,185 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the perception of women's sports was changed forever. Critics scoffed when FIFA announced plans to have the 1999 Women's World Cup in the same stadiums that hosted the 1994 Men's World Cup. No one would fill 90,000 seat stadiums, right? Wrong. The 1999 Women's World Cup was more than a sporting event -- it was a cultural revolution, a direct outgrowth of the passage of Title IX in 1972 that guaranteed equality in sports programs in colleges and high schools across America.

Chastain, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers, goalkeeper Briana Scurry and many other members of the team became national heroes as they played through the tournament, selling out big stadiums like Giants Stadium, Stanford Stadium, FedEx Field, and Foxboro Stadium. They made the covers of not just Sports Illustrated, but Time and Newsweek.

4. The 1972-73 UCLA Men's Basketball Team

Or was it the 1971-72 team? Both went 30-0 and won NCAA titles behind coach John Wooden and center Bill Walton. UCLA won 10 titles in 12 years, the '72-73 team winning the ninth title and becoming Wooden's last unbeaten team. In addition, they won 30 of the NCAA-record 88-game winning streak -- the Bruins did not lose a game between January 23, 1971 and January 19, 1974.

5. The 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team

We won't say this was the greatest basketball team ever assembled -- after all, they played their meaningful games over a two-week period, instead of being tested over an 82-game season. But a team led by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson steamrolled over opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal against Croatia at the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain. It was like a fantasy team come to life.

6. The 1970 Brazil World Cup Team

Pele. The name itself is magic. The greatest soccer player of all time. When Brazil won its first World Cup in 1958, Pele was the youngest player (17) to play in a World Cup, but he wasn't the star. When Brazil defended their title in 1962, Pele was injured early in the tournament. Brazil lost in 1966, and then came World Cup Mexico 1970. Pele dominated, scoring six goals and as Brazil went unbeaten in the World Cup for the first time. Brazil was so dominant that after Brazil beat Italy 4–1 in the final, Pele not only received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament, but Brazil was awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy, which had been passed on from winner to winner since 1930, permanently.

7. The 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers

Few sports teams dominated a decade the way Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers dominated the NHL in the 1980s. But their first of five Stanley Cup champion teams might have been their best. In 1983–84, the Oilers finished first overall in the NHL, winning a franchise record 57 games and earning 119 points (fifteen points ahead of the second place New York Islanders). They were the first team to feature three players with fifty goals (Gretzky, Jarri Kurri and Glenn Anderson). Gretzky, who would finish with 87 goals and 118 assists, scored at least a point in the first 51 games of the season and the Oilers scored 446 goals as a team, an NHL record. They defeated the Islanders in five game to become the first former WHA team to win a Cup.

8. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls

They may no longer hold the record for wins in a season, but the Chicago Bulls still stands as arguably the greatest NBA team in history. Consider the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen-Phil Jackson led Bulls of the 1990s won six titles, and have three of the top 10 won-loss records. They not only went 72-10 in 1995-96, but followed that up with a 69-13 record the following season. And the year they won their second championship, 1991-92, the Bulls went 67-15. The Warriors have a long way to go to match that legacy.

9. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens

The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens are considered the best team in modern NHL history. They played 80 games that season and only lost eight (60-8-12) while outscoring opponents 387-171.  Montreal scored more goals than any other team in the league while giving up fewer tallies than any other club. They also finished 20 points ahead of any other team in the league in the standings. The Habs had eight players with 20 or more goals and featured future Hall of Famers like Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt. Shutt led the club with 60 goals while Lafleur 56 goals and 136 points. The capper to such a special season: Sweeping the rival Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, their second of three straight championships.

10. The 1927 New York Yankees

The major-league record for wins in a season in baseball is 116 games -- by the Chicago Cubs in a 154-game season in 1906 and the Seattle Mariners in a 162-game season in 2001. Neither team won the World Series. The gold standard is the 1927 Yankees, a team that featured a feared lineup of hitters, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (above), known as Murderers Row. The Yankees went 110-44, outscored opponents by 371 runs, and then ambushed Pittsburgh in the World Series. Ruth (60 home runs) and Gehrig (47)  combined to hit 107 homers and scored 307 runs.

11. The 1985 Chicago Bears

With apologies to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to go through an entire season and postseason unbeaten, the 1985 Chicago Bears were the most dominant team in NFL history. Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle? Consider that the Bears made the video during the regular season. They actually recorded it after their only loss, to Miami on Dec. 2, 1985. But Chicago -- led by coach Mike Ditka, quarterback Jim McMahon, running back Walter Payton and one of the all-time great defenses in NFL history -- backed it up with a 46-10 destruction of New England in Super Bowl XX. Here’s defensive dominance: The Bears allowed 10 or fewer points in 11 regular-season games. They clamped down even harder in the playoffs, pitching consecutive shutouts against the Giants (21-0) and Rams (24-0) before the Super Bowl. The '85 Bears are the GOAT. In the Super Bowl, the Patriots managed an early field goal (after a fumble recovery) and a late, meaningless touchdown. The Bears set a Super Bowl record with seven sacks and held New England to a record-low 7 yards rushing.



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