Ranking Cities Sports Title Droughts

It has been a wild couple of years in sports in terms of ending title droughts. In 2016, Cleveland won its first championship in any sport in over half a century and the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year curse by winning the World Series. In 2017, the Houston Astros won their first ever World Series title. 2018 has already seen the Philadelphia Eagles win a long-awaited championship and the Washington Capitals finally bring home the Stanley Cup. Some of the most historic title droughts in all of sports have ended in recent years, begging the question of which cities remain the most tortured for a title. Here is my top ten.

10. Detroit
Teams: Lions (NFL), Pistons (NBA), Red Wings (NHL), Tigers (MLB),
Last title: 2008

It has only been a decade since a Detroit team has won a title, but the history of sports success in the Motor City is not a great one. The Lions have famously (or infamously) never won a Super Bowl, or even appeared in one. They also hold the NFL record for most consecutive playoff losses. Baseball is a little more promising because the Tigers have won before, three times actually, but the last World Series victory came in 1984. The Pistons have had some great teams, but have also been one of the worst run NBA franchises in the last ten years. In the NHL, the Red Wings represent the true bright spot. Detroit has hoisted the Stanley Cup twice since the turn of the century. It hasn’t been that long for Detroit, but it might be a while before one of these four teams wins another title.

9. Indianapolis
Teams: Colts (NFL), Pacers (NBA)
Last title: 2006

Only two teams reside in Indianapolis and the Colts have won a title. The Peyton Manning era is still one fans could look back on proudly, but for a long time the Colts were one of the most tortured franchises in the NFL. They have resumed that post since then. For a city as crazy about basketball as Indy, zero NBA titles is a real bummer as well. The Pacers have only reached the NBA finals once in franchise history losing to the Shaq and Kobe Lakers. Both the Colts and Pacers have been competitive in recent years as well, but always end up faltering in the playoffs, leaving a bitter taste in fans’ mouths.

8. Charlotte
Teams: Hurricanes (NHL), Hornets (NBA), Panthers (NFL)
Last title: 2006

It has also been 12 years since Charlotte has won a title, but they get the edge for having three teams as opposed to Indy’s two. The Hornets have been one of the worst franchises in NBA history. It has been 30 years since the Hornets were founded and the team has never so much as won a division title. Football has treated fans a little better, as the Panthers did reach the Super Bowl back in 2003. They came agonizingly close to beating that Brady guy, but Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winner as time expired to beat Carolina. The Hurricanes are the only team in Charlotte to win a title. After losing in the 2002 Stanley Cup final, Carolina broke through in 2006 to lift the cup. Still, just one title between three teams over the past 30 years is a poor return.

7. Nashville
Teams: Predators (NHL), Titans (NFL)
Last title: N/A

If you also lump in the Memphis Grizzles, the Tennessee would likely move up a few spots on this list. Seeing as Memphis and Nashville are on opposite sides of the state though, it did not seem too fair. Both teams moved to town in 1997, but the Predators came close to bringing home a title in 2017. On the other hand, the Titans made the playoffs in 2017 for the first time in nearly ten years. What holds Nashville back is how new of a sports city it is. It has only had pro teams for 20 years, so the lack of a title is not totally shocking. Only one appearance in a finals setting is more than enough to qualify for this list though.

6. Cincinnati
Teams: Bengals (NFL), Reds (MLB)
Last title: 1990

Oh, where to begin with Cincinnati. For one, the Bengals have been a punch line in the NFL for quite some time. Head coach Marvin Lewis took over in 2003 and has taken the team to the playoffs seven times in his tenure. He is also 0-7 in the postseason. It has been 27 years since Cincy has won a playoff game, the longest active streak in the league. The Bengals weren’t always this way though. In the ’80s, Cincinnati made it to two Super Bowls, both times losing by less than a touchdown to the Joe Montana led 49ers. The Reds haven’t been a whole lot better. Since winning the World Series in 1990, Cincy’s baseball team has only made the playoffs four times. With the Bengals looking like an average team and the Reds in the middle of a rebuild, it could be a while before Cincinnati celebrates another championship.

5. San Diego
Teams: Padres (MLB), Chargers (NFL)
Last title: N/A

Technically, there is only one pro team still in San Deigo, but to not include the struggles of the Chargers in evaluating the drought this city has gone through would be unfair. I actually think the fact the Chargers left makes life as a fan in this city even more torturous. Boasting one of the greatest offenses in NFL history, San Diego never managed to reach a Super Bowl. Its lone appearance was a blowout loss to the 49ers in 1994. Even during the early 2000s, it seemed like the Chargers would finally break through, but never managed to reach the Super Bowl. For the Padres, opportunities for postseason success have been few and far between. In 49 years as a franchise, the Padres have made the playoffs just five times, including two different losses in the World Series. San Diego has long awaited a title and now will have an even tougher time securing one with only the Padres left in town.

4. Phoenix
Teams: Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), Diamondbacks (MLB), Suns (NBA)
Last title: 2001

It has been 17 years since the largest city in Arizona brought home a sports championship. The Cardinals came agonizingly close in 2009 before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild Super Bowl. The Suns haven’t been good in years, but still remember the days of Charles Barkley and Steve Nash fondly. Neither of the ever managed to bring home a title. The Coyotes have never made it to a Stanley Cup final, much less won one. That leaves the Diamondbacks, who won the cities last championship in 2001. It is the only title in the city’s history. The Cardinals won an NFL Championship in 1947, but that was actually while the team was located in Chicago. Only one title between four teams is tough for fans to swallow and it does not seem like any of them are close to a title for a least a few more years.

3. Atlanta
Teams: Hawks (NBA), Falcons (NFL), Braves (MLB),
Last title: 1995

Between the Hawks, Falcons and Braves, Atlanta has only brought home one title in the history of sports in the city. The Braves broke through in 1995, which isn’t really that long ago, but this city definitely knows what it is like to want a title. The Hawks have never made it to the NBA Finals while in Atlanta. The 2016 Falcons made it to the Super Bowl and blew the largest lead in the history of the game. It marked the second time the Falcons lost in the championship. Looking at the Braves, they lost four other World Series during the ’90s. Had it not been for that World Series in ’95, Atlanta might very well top this list.

2. Buffalo
Teams: Bills (NFL), Sabres (NHL)
Last title: N/A

Western New York is home to one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports. The aptly named “Bills Mafia” provides a fun home field advantage whenever the Bills are hosting. Sabres fans have suffered through many years of woeful play on the ice, but still support the team nonetheless. Between these two franchises, Buffalo has appeared in six different championships, winning none of them. The Bills came up short in four consecutive Super Bowls! Talk about torture for fans. The Sabres made two different runs to the Stanley Cup final over the years, but fell short in both. It was the NHL team who made Buffalo’s last championship appearance in 1999. Up until last year, the Bills hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 1999. What holds Buffalo back from the top spot is the fact that the city only has two teams.

1. Minneapolis
Teams: Timberwolves (NBA), Twins (MLB), Wild (NHL), Vikings (NFL)
Last title: 1991

21 years ago was the last time a team from the Twin Cities won a title. Minneapolis is home to some of the most tortured fan bases in sports. On one hand, you have the Vikings. The Purple People Eaters lost four Super Bowls from 1969 to 1976. The Vikings have never made it back to the big game since their loss in ’76. It seemed like they would in 1998, with a historically good offense, only to lose in their first playoff game that year. Then there are the Timberwolves. Minnesota finally broke the second longest playoff drought in NBA history in 2018 after 13 years of failing to qualify. In a league where more than half the teams make it to the postseason, that is quite a feat. The Wild haven’t been in town long, but like the Timberwolves, have never even reached the finals. The Twins are the only team in town with a title, but have not returned to the World Series. While Minneapolis has won a title, none of the teams in the city have even reached the championship stage in the 27 years since. This city is starved for a title and well-deserving of the top spot on our list.

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Trends at the NBA trade deadline

This was one of the craziest trade deadlines in recent memory. I read somewhere that close to eight percent of the league’s player pool switched teams on Thursday. It was interesting to see teams who have been on the verge of being contenders drop out, or other look to bolster themselves for a playoff run. It became very clear which teams thought they had a shot and which teams were throwing in the towel this year to build for the future.

Out in the Eastern Conference we saw two teams really make a push to bolster their roster in hopes of making a playoff run. It is widely known that the East is weaker and that point was highlighted Thursday with Milwaukee and Miami landed two big name point guards. The Bucks snagged Michael Carter-Williams from the 76ers in a three-team deal. Miami acquired former Sun Goran Dragic also in a three-team trade.

For the Bucks, this is their chance to make a run at a top four spot in the East. Milwaukee currently sits just one and a half games behind Washington for the fifth spot in the conference. The Bucks could also catch Cleveland or Chicago who are only two and two and a half games ahead of Milwaukee respectively. Having home court advantage in the playoffs in the NBA can make a major difference who advances. Milwaukee’s lineup now will feature talented guards with MCW, Giannis Antetokounmpo and O.J. Mayo to carry this squad. This also bodes well for next season, as the Bucks will receive a nice boost with Jabari Parker’s return. This team now has a solid young core to build around in Parker, Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams. The Bucks made a very solid investment as they continue to take advantage of a very weak Eastern Conference.

For Miami, the impact of their move to land Dragic is mellowed by the news breaking that Chris Bosh is likely done for the rest of the year. Bosh in many ways has carried this Heat team with Dwayne Wade nursing an injury so his loss will come as a major blow. However, Miami has to be happy to land Dragic. This allows the Heat to move Mario Chalmers to the bench. Dragic has proven to be a dynamic scorer and solid floor general in his time in Phoenix. This will be a much-needed injection to a Heat offense that will surely struggle with Wade and Bosh sidelined. Dragic can also shift to shooting guard at times to play alongside Chalmers. The Heat just landed a very versatile piece that will likely help them hold onto their seventh spot in the standings. The Heat, who only sit one game above Brooklyn Nets and half a game above the Charlotte Hornets, do not have much breathing room right now.

On the flip side of the Heat trade, out west we saw the Suns blow up their current core. Not totally but Phoenix shipped off two of its four leading scorers. They also sent three young prospects packing along with them. The Suns acquired a solid point guard in Brandon Knight, veteran depth in the form of Marcus Thorton and some expiring contract. The biggest thing for Phoenix is the acquisition of three future first round draft picks. The Suns have realized that they simply cannot compete quite yet with the rest of the Western Conference with as deep as it is. The plan right now is to stock pile picks and wait for talent to develop. The West is too stacked right now. With the number of potential big name free agents in the 2016 offseason, it looks like Phoenix is banking on a power shift opening up some room for them to compete out in the desert.

The Nuggets began their remodeling process on Thursday. Denver traded away Javelle McGee, Aaron Afflalo, Alonzo Gee, the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum and a top-18 protected first round pick. The Nuggets received a couple of young pieces in return and a protected first round draft pick for 2016. The reason why this is just the start for Denver is because of the rumors swirling the front office is looking to trade Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. My guess is they did not find a deal and were smart enough not to force a subpar one. This Denver team will continue to take shape during the offseason. This Denver squad has gone through a lot of change in the least three seasons since the Carmelo Anthony trade. Right now, the team is still searching for a new identity and unfortunately for Nuggets fans, it will probably be a few years before they manage to find one.

It is interesting to me how different the dynamics in each conference are. Denver was just about out of the hunt for a spot before the trades were made anyway but Phoenix was right in the thick of the race. Rather than stay the course, the Suns are looking to rebuild. In the East, Miami is in the same position as Phoenix and instead it made a move to hang on to their playoff hopes. The Heat believe they will have a shot against any opponent in the Eastern Conference. The Suns know they have some work to do first. 2016 might change all of that but that is still a long time away.