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Monday, February 4, 2008

Top 5 Boston What If's

Here's a quick look at the top five teams in Boston sports history that SHOULD have been called World Champions...

5. 1973 Celtics
They may have won the NBA title in 1974 and 1976, but the '73 team was maybe the best. They hold the distinction of having the best record (68-14) in NBA history to never make the finals. They had 11 more wins than any other team that season., but were upset by the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals in seven games. The team was built around Dave Cowens (league MVP), John Havlicek (All NBA team), and Jo Jo White. Plus, they were coached by Celtic legend Tom Heinsohn (Coach of the Year).
4. 2003 Red Sox
My first painful experience as a Boston sports fan. This one hurt so much because the Sox had the lead with five outs to go. Plus, unlike '99 were equal to the Yankees. Many people remember this for Grady Little's decision to leave Pedro in the game, but hindsight is 20/20. Still, this team was an offensive powerhouse with a lineup that set records and their pitching staff was anchored by Pedro Martinez. They have won two titles ('04 and '07) since this heartbreaker, but the footage of Aaron Boone hitting that massive homerun will never be forgotten.
3. 1978 Red Sox
Unlike the '67 and '75 Sox, this team really loss to an inferior Yankee team. Yeah, the Yanks were good, but the Sox had a huge lead on the division (14 games in July). They were led by Jim Rice and his MVP season (led league in HRs and RBIs) as well as six other all stars. They managed to win 99 games, but Bucky F. Dent prevented them from going to the postseason in the memorable one game playoff.
2. 1971 Bruins
Like this year's Patriots, the Bruins of 1971 were an offensive powerhouse. They shattered dozens of records. They ran away with the regular season with 121 points. Bobby Orr was in his prime. Phil Esposito was in his prime. This team should have been a dynasty as they won the Stanley Cup in 1970 (would win in '72 as well). Still the most ridiculous stat for this team was that the top four scorers (goals and assists) in the league were Bruins. Actually, eight of the top eleven were Bruins. Espo set a league record with 76 goals and won the Art Ross (most points in a season) with 152 points. Orr had 102 assists, 139 points, and a +124 (all career highs), and was NHL MVP. The +124 is still an NHL record. Bucyk and Hodge had over 100 points each. They are maybe the greatest hockey team to never win the Cup. What happened? They ran into the Montreal Canadiens and a young goalie named Ken Dryden. They were upset in seven games in the first round.
1. 2007 Patriots
It's impossible not to put them at number one. Won 18 straight games. Were on the brink of perfection and football immortality. Then, they failed to show up for the Super Bowl. Tom Brady was league MVP and threw 50 TDs (NFL record). Randy Moss caught 23 TDs (NFL record). They had a record setting offense (589 points, an NFL record) and the highest point differential in a season (+315, an NFL record). They should have been the second team to ever finish an NFL season undefeated, but lost by three points to the Giants in the final minute of the game.

Interesting Notes:
- In this list, four of the five teams were eliminated by a New York team. The other one (Montreal) is easily the Bruins' greatest rival. Funny how that works.
- Other teams I thought about for this list were '46 Red Sox, '48 Red Sox, '49 Red Sox, '74 Bruins, '75 Red Sox, '85 Celtics, '86 Red Sox, and '90 Bruins. Most of these teams were great, but they lost to teams that were better than them, on a more equal talent level, or just didn't make the top five.

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