Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Greatest Sports Franchise – Boston Celtics vs. New York Yankees

The Boston Celtics destroyed the Lakers last night, 131-92, en route to the 17th title in franchise history - their first since 1986.

Congratulations. Once again, sports fans throughout New England can celebrate.

Revelence? Bear with me here:

The Celtics win brings up a larger issue; which professional sports franchise can claim the title, “Greatest.”

So without further ado, I give you the following arbitrary, biased opinion piece:

Track Record

The Celtics were formed in 1946 as a member of the Basketball Association of America. They became an NBA franchise with the merger in 1949. Boston has since won 17 NBA titles (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, and 2008).

For argument’s sake we will say the Yankees existence began in 1901. Then known as the Baltimore Orioles, the organization underwent several identity changes before becoming exclusively known as the New York Yankees in 1913. Since that time the Yankees have captured an amazing 26 World Series trophies (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000).

For those of us who aren’t math majors here is the breakdown:

  • Celtics: 17 championships in 62 years (27%).
  • Yankees: 26 championships in 106 years (25%).

Head-to-head: Slight advantage, Celtics.

The Players - All-Time Rosters

We are all familiar with how well decorated the Garden’s rafters are (be it new or old). The Boston Celtics have retired the following numbers*:

00 Robert Parish
1 Walter Brown
2 Red Auerbach
3 Dennis Johnson
6 Bill Russell
10 Jo Jo White
14 Bob Cousy
15 Tom Heinsohn
16 Tom Sanders
17 John Havlicek
LOSCY* Jim Loscutoff
18 Dave Cowens
19 Don Nelson
21 Bill Sharman
22 Ed Macauley
23 Frank Ramsey
24 Sam Jones
25 KC Jones
31 Cedric Maxwell
32 Kevin McHale
33 Larry Bird
35 Reggie Lewis
MIKE* Johnny Most

* - Loscutoff's jersey was retired but the number was kept active for Dave Cowens
* - Microphone was retired in honor of Johnny Most

New York’s majestic monument park, located beyond the left-center field fence, features an awe-inspiring collection of monuments, plaques and retired numbers. The Yankees legendary all-time roster includes:

1 Billy Martin
3 Babe Ruth
4 Lou Gehrig
5 Joe DiMaggio
7 Mickey Mantle
8 Bill Dickey
8 Yogi Berra
9 Roger Maris
10 Phil Rizzuto
15 Thurman Munson
16 Whitey Ford
23 Don Mattingly
32 Elston Howard
37 Casey Stengel
42 Jackie Robinson
44 Reggie Jackson
49 Ron Guidry

Head-to-Head: With all due respect to Bill Russell, Larry Legend, John Havlicek, and a host of other All-Stars and fantastic role players, advantage Yankees. Ruth? Gehrig? DiMaggio? Mantle? Berra? These aren’t just Hall of Famers, they’ve transcended sports and become cultural icons - worldwide.


The Yankees greatest period of dominance occurred between 1927 and 1953. During that period, the Yankees won 24 pennants and 18 World Championships. From 1949-1953, the Yankees won five consecutive World Championships, the only team in baseball history to accomplish the feat.

In December of 1956, the Celtics drafted the most dominant big man of all time, Bill Russell. By the time he retired after the 1969 season, the Celtics had won 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. The streak of 8 consecutive NBA championships (1959-1966) is the longest streak of consecutive championships in U.S. professional sports history.

Head-to-Head: Even. It’s a cop out. I admit it. But those are two ridiculous periods of dominance.

Greatest Single Season

The 1998 New York Yankees are widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest teams in baseball history. The Joe Torre-led squad compiled a then-AL record 114 regular season wins against just 48 losses. They went 11-2 in the playoffs (including a four game sweep of the Padres in the World Series). Their 125 wins is a major league record.

Some of the names: Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Orlando Hernandez, Jorge Posada, David Wells, David Cone, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, Joe Girardi, Chili Davis, Mike Stanton, and Shane Spencer.

Side note: The 1998 season also featured David Wells perfect game against the Twins.

The 1985-86 Boston Celtics won 67 games en route to their 16th NBA championship. At the Boston Garden, the Celtics were nearly unbeatable (40-1). Boston defeated the Rockets in the Finals, four games to two.

The team included: Larry Bird (MVP), Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton (6th Man), and Rick Carlisle.

Head-to-Head: Even. Come on… those are two dominant teams. Look at the star power there.

The Verdict?

“The Yankees win! Thhhheeeee Yankees win!” But it was close. When I sat down to write this I had every intention in the world of going with the Yankees. However, as I went through step-by-step, I was actually surprised at how close it was.

At the end of the day, I went with the Yankees. What did you expect? This is a Yankees blog.


Emily said...

GREEN 17 all the way babbbbbyyyyyyyy!!!!

Anonymous said...

congrats celtics.

canadian born and bred said...

what about the montreal canadians?

Anonymous said...

FANtastic comparison! You should be a writer

Jeff said...

The Montreal Canadians? If you want to talk about hockey, you are barking up the wrong tree.

As entertaining as the NHL Playoffs are - and they're great - I just can't get into hockey. I've tried; can't do it.

Frank Quirindongo said...

If you note these two teams. The Boston Celtics won their 17 title.

1+7=8 for year 2008

New York Yankees won their 27 title

2+7=9 for year 2009

This cannot get any better!!! for the two best teams in franchise history.