I’m not sure if anyone else has done a post like this. But either way, I thought I’d throw my two cents out there on the best teams of the decade. I decided to limit this to team sports. I didn’t really want to decide between different years of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer; and sports like boxing don’t have distinct seasons.
I have listed the Big Six team sports in this country (MLB,NFL,NHL,NBA, NCAAF, and NCAABask). Because I like them, I added MLS and NCAA Baseball; and because this is Baltimore, I threw in some NCAA Lacrosse. If you have any team sports I left out, give me your pick and of course feel free to disagree with my selections.
I had a couple of rules to keep in mind when evaluating my picks. One is you had to win the championship. You can still be a great team even if you don’t go all the way, but you can’t be the BEST, in my opinion. Also the Florida State Seminoles and St. Louis Rams technically won their titles this decade; but since they are considered the 1999 champs in their respective sports, I didn’t consider them.
NFL TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2004 New England Patriots
They finished 14-2 regular season and defeated the Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl.
This was Bill Belichick’s 3rd Super Bowl winner. They had the bulls eye on their back all season and came through it spectacularly. They crushed the Colts and Steelers in the playoffs; and the Super Bowl didn’t seem quite as close as the score. Tom Brady had a great year and Corey Dillon provided more punch from running back than the previous Pats clubs. Harrison, Vrabel, Bruschi, McGinest, Seymour et al. on defense. Simply the best of the decade.
Honorable Mention:(in chronological order) 2000 Ravens, 2002 Buccaneers, 2003 Patriots, 2006 Colts.
MLB TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2005 Chicago White Sox
They finished 99-63 and swept the Astros in the World Series.
Alot of people will find fault with this pick and I’m fine with that. But consider this. They had the second most wins of any World Series champ this decade. Once the playoffs started they were untouchable. They went 11-1 in the postseason, only dropping game 1 of the ALCS. Finally, since I believe that baseball is won by pitching, I could not overlook the dominance of the 2005 White Sox rotation. Their lineup wasn’t A+, but was better than you might remember. Konerko, Crede, Dye and Everett all had excellent power numbers and Podsednik stole 59 bases. Their strength of course was Ozzie Guillen’s pitching staff. Their top 4 starters (Buehrle, Conteras, Garcia, and Garland)all had 14 or more wins and an ERA under 3.90. And they were even better in the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Diamondbacks, 2002 Angels, 2004 Red Sox, 2009 Yankees.
NBA TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2008 Boston Celtics
They finished 66-16 and defeated the Lakers in 6 in the NBA Finals.
Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge were both fighting for their jobs before they made the trades that brought them a world title. After they made them, they ran all the way to the league’s best record and an epic finals win over the Lakers. This team led wire to wire behind two Hall of Fame players in Pierce and Garnett and another very fine player in Ray Allen. They also had a host of solid role players that played those roles perfectly. These included Rondo, Perkins, Posey, Cassell, House and, PJ Brown.
Honorable Mention: 2000 Lakers, 2002 Lakers, 2003 Spurs, 2009 Lakers.
NHL TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2001 Colorado Avalanche
They finished with 118 points and beat the Devils in 7 in the Finals.
Coach Bob Hartley’s squad beat the defending champion Devils in an unbelievable 7 game series. The Devils were so good, that if they had won game 7 , they might be at the top of this list. This Avalanche team is mainly remembered for bringing Ray Bourque a Stanley Cup, but they were stacked. I’ll just list some of the players. Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk, Tanguay, Drury,Deadmarsh, Foote, Blake and of course the man I believe to be the best goalie of all-time Patrick Roy. Simply an amazing hockey team.
Honorable Mention: 2002 Red Wings, 2003 Devils, 2006 Hurricanes, 2008 Red Wings.
MLS TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2002 LA Galaxy
They finished 16-9-3 and beat the Revolution 1-0 in the MLS Cup
After some disappointing losses in previous MLS Cups, the 2002 LA Galaxy finished the regular season with the best record and closed out the title with their first cup win. One of the signature franchises did it with a team filled with MLS Stars. Sigi Schmid’s club included American legends Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas, stalwart goalie Kevin Hartman, and quality MLSers like Tyrone Marshall, Ezra Hendrickson, Sasha Victorine, Alejandro Moreno, and Carlos Ruiz.
Honorable Mention: 2000 Wizards, 2003 Earthquakes, 2007 Dynamo, 2008 Crew.
NCAA FOOTBALL TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2004 USC
They finished 13-0 and destroyed Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl.
This team was ranked number one all year. They had the pressure on constantly and came through with flying colors. They embarrassed Adrian Peterson and the Sooners in the title game. Coach Pete Carroll had a stacked roster that included: QB Matt Leinart, RB’s Reggie Bush and LenDale White, WR’s Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, and defenders Shaun Cody, Sedrick Ellis, Mike Patterson, Lofa Tatupu, Darnell Bing and more.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Miami, 2002 Ohio State, 2005 Texas, 2008 Florida.
NCAA BASKETBALL TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2001 Duke
They finished 35-4 and beat Arizona 82-72 in the final.
In this sport there were many good teams to choose from with little to separate them. In a close vote I give the nod to the Blue Devils. Coach K’s team won the ACC regular season and tournament titles. In the NCAA tournament, outside of a tough first half against Maryland in the semis, they were barely challenged. Maybe that was because they were stacked. Consider this line-up. PG Jason Williams SG Mike Dunleavy SF Nate James PF Shane Battier C Carlos Boozer. Chris Duhon came off the bench. That makes 4 players that are still producing in the NBA almost a decade later and a fifth that probably would be if not for injury.
Honorable Mention: 2004 UConn, 2005 UNC, 2007 Florida, 2009 UNC.
NCAA BASEBALL TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2003 Rice Owls
They finished 58-12 and beat Stanford 14-2 in CWS final.
Coach Wayne Graham’s squad ran through the regular season and beat national powers Miami, Texas, and Stanford to gain the title. As I said in the MLB pick, pitching wins titles in baseball and Rice had pitching. With major leaguers Jeff Niemann and Phillip Humber starting and David Aardsma closing, it was tough to score on the Owls. They could also put up a few runs and had future MLBer Paul Janish at SS, but Rice won with a dominant staff that no one could touch in 2003.
Honorable Mention: 2001 Miami, 2002 Texas, 2004 Fullerton, 2009 LSU.
COLLEGE LACROSSE TEAM OF THE DECADE: 2006 Virginia
They finished 17-0 and beat UMass 15-7 in the final.
I don’t know quite enough about lacrosse to tell you why they were the best in an intellectual manner, but they sure felt like the best to me. Undefeated, led the nation in scoring, and had 8 All- Americans. Coach Dom Starsia had them rip through the playoffs with 4 easy victories. They were the best I saw.
Honorable Mention: 2000 Syracuse, 2001 Princeton, 2005 Johns Hopkins, 2008 Syracuse.