There are more than 120 teams in the “big 4″ leagues of North American professional sports. They reach all the way from Edmonton, which is more than 300 miles north of the Canada/US border, to Miami, which sits in the tropics of the southern tip of Florida. Aside from covering a wide geographic range, the fanbases these teams command are immense, and they are passionate. Ask a fan of any team why his/her team is the best, and he/she will unload a list of reasons, whether true or imagined.
Unfortunately, in sports not everyone can be the best. In fact, a lot of the teams are flat-out bad. While losing is certainly not the point of sports, it is necessary for sports to remain exciting and it will always be part of competition. For me, this raises the questions: Historically, which teams are the very best? Which are the worst? After looking through this study, we should have the answers to those questions and more.
Without further ado, I give you the win percentages of every North American professional sports team in the “big 4″ leagues.
After the obvious names, we see some teams that you might not have guessed off the top of your head – at least I didn’t – like the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Phoenix Suns. The Suns in particular come as a surprise to me, but when you give it some thought, it is not all that surprising. The Steve Nash era saw elite play from the Suns, as did the Barkley era. The Suns have been the the playoffs 28 times since 1975. That’s 28 out of 39 years, which is very impressive.
At the bottom of the pack we see the Charlotte Bobcats. This team truly has been awful, but I’m willing to let them slide since they are such a young team. Which brings us to our next and far more concerning apparent dumpster fire of a franchise: the Los Angeles Clippers. In their 44-year history, the Clippers have had ten winning seasons. Three of their ten winning seasons have come in the last three years. These last three seasons tied their existing record for most consecutive winning seasons. Twice in franchise history, the Clippers have gone 12 straight seasons under .500. For all of you 50+ year-old Clippers fans, I am truly sorry.
Below, I’ve separated the teams by league for your slightly more specific enjoyment.
Bottom Five: Charlotte Bobcats, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors
Middle of the Road: Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, NY Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks
Bottom Five: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints
Middle of the Road: St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs
Bottom Five: Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies
Middle of the Road: LA Angels of Anaheim, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays
Bottom Five: Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, LA Kings, Vancouver Canucks
Middle of the Road: San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes
Now after reading this, some of you may argue that despite the fact that your team has a poor overall record, they have won more championships than other teams. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Below, each team’s championship count.
The elite teams on this chart are also elite teams from our win percentage chart. In fact, the top five teams on this list are all on the top five on their league’s win percentage chart. The Yankees, Canadiens, Celtics, Lakers, Packers and Maple Leafs have won 30% of all the championships in North American pro sports.
There are 32 North American pro sports teams who have yet to win a championship in their respective league. The Phoenix Suns are the winningest team to never win a championship. With the tenth best win percentage in North American sports, you’d think at least one Larry O’Brien trophy would have made it into the Suns’ locker room, but it’s just not the case.
Sports have a way of developing a fan’s pride for his/her city. After all, sports teams may be the most famous group of people a city has to offer. They are ambassadors for their hometown and reflect upon the city as a whole. With that in mind, let’s shift our focus a bit to see which cities have the greatest winning heritage in pro sports.
These single-team cities that win championships at a high rate experience all of the success of having a good team represent their city, without any of the disappointment of a bad team. It’s no wonder that Packers fans are considered some of the most dedicated and rabid fans in all of sports. I can tell you from personal experience that the following for the Spurs here in San Antonio is utterly insane and can at times, flirt with being cult-like. As a resident of one of these high-performance single-team cities, it’s hard to avoid becoming a fan of the team that single-handedly brings a winning heritage to your city.
As a ticket seller, we thought it might be fun to take a look at the cost of seeing these teams and comparing it to how successful they have been over the years. Which teams offer the very best bang for you buck? The worst? Let’s find out. We’ll start with the NBA.
On the other end of the spectrum, we see an appearance from the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn (or New Jersey if you prefer) does not have a sparkling history, nor did they have a fantastic season last year. After losing their head coach and reporting more than $114 million in losses last season, it’s not only the past that looks dark for the Nets; it’s the future as well. Nothing about this team justifies their average ticket price, which is the fourth highest in the NBA. The lowly Bobcats, whose expectations are even lower than those of the Nets, are still trying to demand an average ticket price that sits in the top half of the league.
Houston Texans tickets command the 13th-highest ticket price in the league, but why? They have the second-worst historical win percentage of any NFL franchise, have won zero championships and were the worst team in the NFL last year. This one is a real head-scratcher.
There is a team low on the NFL list for whom I will make an appeal. Stadium awesomeness did not play a factor in my rankings and according to recent news, this is doing the Jacksonville Jaguars an injustice. The Jags plan to add the largest video screen in all of sports to their stadium in 2014. On top of that, they are putting in special poolside cabanas for the fan who wants to take a dip during a game. That is seriously cool and should bump them up a spot or two.
The New York Yankees have the most expensive tickets by a wide margin. Despite this, they fall in the middle realm of price per value thanks to their status as one of the most recognizable and successful sports franchises on earth. Plus, anyone who has been to a game at Yankee Stadium knows that there’s just something about being there.
The Seattle Mariners are historically not a very good team, with no exception for last season. Were they charging a price closer to that of Cardinals tickets, we might have some leniency for their price per value but in reality, they are charging about $15 more than the St. Louis team. Not seeing the justification for this.
The Yankees of the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, charge a premium price for a premium product. At $224, they have the seventh-most expensive tickets in the league, but they have earned the right to charge whatever they want. The LA Kings, on the other hand have not proven themselves to be a winning franchise until just recently. With two Stanley Cups in the last three seasons, the Kings have proven they are on the upswing as a franchise. With that in mind, their last-place price per value rating is not really fair.
The most appropriate winner of the worst bang for your buck in the NHL is the New York Rangers, whose tickets cost $338 on average. That’s $33 more expensive than the second-most expensive team. For a team with a less than stunning historical win percentage, that price simply is not justified. Teams in New York can generally get away with charging more per ticket than other teams, but the Rangers may have overdone it this time.
That does it for this study. Here’s to continued excellence for your favorite team or hope to get them out of the gutter! Let me hear your thoughts in the comments or on twitter @andrewpomo.