Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! Check out the first round of voting here, the second round of voting here and the Final Four voting here. The championship round poll will close at noon ET on Tuesday.
After a week of voting, we’ve reached the championship round — and the matchups couldn’t be better than this.
The Steel Curtain vs. the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears. Steph Curry’s Warriors vs. Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Jordan’s Tar Heels vs. Bill Walton’s Bruins. Ruth vs. Rose. Gordon vs. Earnhardt. UConn vs. ... well, UConn, of course.
The final round of voting brings matchups between the absolute best of the best, and it should make for a fun conclusion to the Best Teams Ever series. Vote below.
Not that the 1985 Chicago Bears or 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t capable on offense, but it’s not what either team is known for.
In determining which two teams would compete for “Best NFL Team Ever” status in our bracket, fans chose two of the greatest defensive teams of all time.
The ‘75 Steelers, the most dominant of the team’s four Super Bowl champions that decade, took out the 17-0 1972 Miami Dolphins in the semifinals of our “Best Team Ever” NFL bracket. The ‘85 Bears beat Joe Montana, Bill Walsh and the 1984 San Francisco 49ers. While there are some similarities between the two finalists, they differ in a distinct way. The Steelers ruled an entire decade, winning four titles and coming up just short in the loaded AFC playoffs a few other years. The Bears were a one-hit wonder, at least in terms of championships. Chicago made just one Super Bowl with that core, with injuries keeping the Bears from getting back after their one magical season.
Both teams will be remembered forever. Only one gets to be crowned our best ever. Click here or on the image below to vote.
The NBA bracket’s final round features two dynasties fresh in our minds — a Golden State Warriors group that crumbled this season and the Chicago Bulls outfit chronicled in the forthcoming Michael Jordan documentary — pitting the game’s greatest player ever against its greatest collection of talent.
The semifinals produced some fascinating results. The 2017 Warriors received 53 percent of the vote in a narrow win over the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. Recency bias could have sent the Warriors breezing into the finals, but a likely combination of the vast L.A. faithful and a healthy respect for Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain kept it close. On the other side of the bracket, the 1996 Bulls trounced a loaded 1986 Boston Celtics squad, receiving three quarters of the vote. The Jordan mystique is a powerful thing.
Steve Kerr is the tether between the two teams. While some of his former teammates on the 72-win Bulls believe they would have thrashed the 73-win Warriors, Kerr was kinder to the team he now coaches. “I believe it would hinge on a step-back Steph Curry 3 over Michael Jordan at the buzzer,” he told ESPN.com. “And we'll never know if it goes in or not.” Click here or on the image below to vote.
The finals of our MLB Best Team Ever bracket shouldn’t shock anyone. When you talk about the best baseball teams ever, these two are always on the shortlist. They were so good they’ve got great nicknames — it’s Murderer’s Row vs. the Big Red Machine.
The 1927 New York Yankees arrive in the finals without much of a challenge thus far and can be penciled in as the favorite. When you’ve got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at their best, it’s hard to give someone else an advantage. The 1975 Cincinnati Reds, however, will be a more-than-competent challenger, with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan.
The Yankees won 110 games that year and have a roster that includes seven Hall of Famers. The Reds? Still impressive with 108 wins and four Hall of Famers. It would be five, if you count Rose, who if we’re just talking about numbers is well above that bar. It’s quite a matchup. And it’s up to you to decide. Click here or on the image below to vote.
We’ve reached the final round in our Best Teams Ever bracket, and one of the tournament favorites has been eliminated.
We got plenty of grief from Miami fans for having their beloved 2001 Hurricanes as the No. 2 overall seed, but they ended up being upset by college football’s most recent champion: the 2019 LSU Tigers.
Can Ed Orgeron, Joe Burrow and the rest of the boys from Baton Rouge pull off another upset and take home the crown by knocking off top seed 1995 Nebraska? Click here or on the image below to vote.
Men’s college basketball
The championship round is upon us and it pits one of the best teams of UCLA’s dynasty against a team that included the greatest individual player of all time. Michael Jordan may have only been a freshmen during North Carolina’s 1981-82 season, but he didn’t play like it in averaging 13.5 points per game and hitting the game-winning shot in the national title game.
So who deserves the ‘Best Team Ever’ moniker in college basketball? Click here or on the image below to vote.
Women’s college basketball
An all-Connecticut championship was completely expected out of the gate. It would have been an odd final if it didn’t pit two of the 11 national title Huskies teams against each other.
It’s a battle of No. 1 seed versus No. 3 seed, 2010s UConn stars vs. 2000s UConn stars. Breanna Stewart vs. Sue Bird (who we’d far rather see battling together for the Seattle Storm when sports returns).
Both Huskies squad have dominated the bracket. Which one comes out on top? Click here or on the image below to vote.
The 2000 Houston Comets are widely regarded as the best team in WNBA history. It was the squad that capped four championships in four years with three Naismith Hall of Fame inductees. You can’t go wrong when Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper and Tina Thompson are in the starting lineup together.
The bracket’s No. 1 seed cruised into the second round with 87 percent of the vote and into the Final Four with 74 percent. The 2001 Los Angeles Sparks were a 7-seed in the bracket, the last to win titles back-to-back in the WNBA (they won in 2002). Lisa Leslie won her first of three MVPs and the squad went through the bracket with wins of 67 percent, 59 percent and finally 56 percent in an upset over the 2017 Minnesota Lynx dynasty. Click here or on the image below to vote.
The clear pattern in the Best Teams Ever club soccer bracket was a preference for teams that not only won a pure domestic league-domestic-cup-Champions League treble, but also for teams that shifted the paradigm. The 2008-09 Barcelona side knocked off 2015-16 Paris Saint Germain, 1994-95 Ajax and 2016-17 Real Madrid. Which is to say that our voters not only looked at dominance but also at teams that changed the sport.
You can also see it in the other finalist, 1998-99 Manchester United, which not only beat 2003-04 FC Porto — ironically, since that Jose Mourinho-managed Porto side famously upset United in the Champions League quarterfinals — but also 2007-08 United, which was more talented but didn't win the treble, and fellow treble-winner 2014-15 Barca. While United didn't reinvent the game, exactly, it was the first English finalist in 13 years and the first English team to conquer Europe in 15 years, starting a trend. Click here or on the image below to vote.
The NHL has been around for 100-plus years, but it’s beyond evident now that the league’s best-ever teams, existed less than a decade apart.
We’re down to our final round and, shocker, it’s the bracket’s top two seeds — the ‘85 Oilers and ‘77 Canadiens — set to duke it out for the crown. Both these clubs topped the NHL’s centennial celebration fan vote for greatest “Greatest NHL Team of All Time” a couple of years ago, and our voters have once again named these absurdly talented squads as the best we’ve ever seen.
Vote and have your say on whether the Bowman-led Habs or Gretzky-captained Oilers should be deemed the best ever. Click here or on the image below to vote.
Our final round to determine the best individual season ever for a NASCAR driver comes down to two of the most famous drivers in the last 25 years of NASCAR who were each others’ biggest competitors in the 1990s.
Gordon and Earnhardt combined to win seven titles in the 1990s. Earnhardt took home the Cup Series titles in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994 while Gordon won championships in 1995, 1997 and 1998. That third season of Gordon’s was his best season ever. And it might have been the best season of any NASCAR driver in the modern era. Click here or on the image below to vote.
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