Regardless of the sport, winning games at the professional level is no easy task. In fact, very few American professional sports fanbases are lucky enough to see their favorite franchise consistently win games throughout back-to-back decades. It’s even more rare for teams to find success for the majority of three decades, but that is exactly what the five teams on the following list have done.
To achieve long-term success, teams must draft well; they must maintain consistency with their front office and coaching staff; they must make wise and calculated moves during free agency; and they must hope that their key players stay healthy. Failure to perform well in any of these areas can quickly result in a franchise fading into professional sports oblivion.
You’ll notice that every franchise that made our list won multiple championships under Hall of Fame (or soon-to-be Hall of Fame) head coaches and have had several Hall of Fame-caliber players on their respective rosters. Now, without further adieu, here are the five winningest franchises in American professional sports (of the current generation).
Note: Rankings are based off of overall win/loss records since 1984.
5. San Francisco 49ers – 59.31% winning percentage
Overall record: 309-212-2
Since 1984, the 49ers have won four Super Bowl titles (tied for the league lead), five NFC titles, and 14 division titles; they had players win NFL MVP awards four times; and they have five players, one coach, and their former owner inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 49ers have fallen onto hard times recently, but for most of the last 30-plus years, the franchise experienced massive amounts of success.
4. New England Patriots – 60.80% winning percentage
Overall record: 318-205
Outside of a handful of solid seasons in the 1980s and 1990s, the Patriots can attribute their inclusion on this list to their ongoing dynasty, which began in 2001. Since 1984, the Pats have won four Super Bowl titles (tied for the league lead), eight AFC titles, and 16 division titles; they have had players win NFL MVP awards two times; and they have had four former players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with several more coming).
The Patriots have an excellent chance of winning a fifth Super Bowl title this year. When it’s all said and done, Bill Belichick will likely go down as the best head coach in NFL history. Likewise, Tom Brady will likely go down as the best quarterback in NFL history.
3. Los Angeles Lakers – 61.46% winning percentage
Overall record: 1,598-1,002
The Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. Since 1984, they have won eight NBA Championships, 12 conference championship, and 15 division titles; they have had players win the NBA MVP award five times; and they have had 10 former players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (with more to come, including Kobe Bryant). They may be rebuilding, but it’s only a matter of time until the Lakers are back among the NBA’s elite teams.
2. Denver Broncos – 61.49% winning percentage
Overall record: 321-201-1
With their 27-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend, the Broncos moved past the LA Lakers to No. 2 on this list. Current Denver owner Pat Bowlen bought the franchise in 1984. Since then, the Broncos have won three Super Bowl titles, seven conference titles, and 13 division titles; they have had players win NFL MVP awards three times; and they have had two former players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with several more on the horizon, including Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware).
With the Broncos’ roster for 2016, we expect them to contend for another Super Bowl title, which means we will definitely see their franchise’s winning percentage continue to increase.
1. San Antonio Spurs – 63.47% winning percentage
Overall record: 1,649-949
What the Spurs accomplished over the last 30-plus years is truly remarkable. Since 1984, they have won five NBA Championships, six conference championships, and 16 division titles; they have had players win NBA MVP awards three times; and they have had six former players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (with several more from their current team to come).
The Spurs luck undoubtedly changed for the better in 1997, when they drafted Tim Duncan, who retired this offseason. With the foundation head coach Gregg Popovich, another future Hall of Famer, has built, the Spurs will continue to win boatloads of games for several years to come.