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What Really Qualifies Any Sports Team to be the Best in History?

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    Ok, so I'm liking this a great deal. Ever had the infamous debate on what teams should be considered the best in history? It more than likely ends with bruised egos, and sore throats. Perhaps the guy in this article has found the formula to end all arguments. It really looks like he used an in-depth scientific approach. Feel free to check out his full explanation here, but I'll leave you with the meat and potatoes of his argument with some excerpts.

    Take the notion of excellence. How do you define it? Do you look at the number of championships a team has won throughout its entire lifespan (Yankees fans would say absolutely) or do you focus on teams like the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors that achieved unmatched results in a single season?

    Beyond that -- where do you draw the line? Does European pro basketball warrant the same consideration as the NBA? Do you include Irish hurling teams? And what about ice dancing? Is that a team sport?

    Here are his 6 qualifying tests he used to determine whether a team deserves to be considered:

    1. It wasn't small. On teams with only a few members, an individual can easily determine the outcome. To make sure that a team's results were mainly a function of collective teamwork, I axed every team with fewer than five members. This eliminated curling, polo, beach volleyball, doubles luge, and, yes, ice dancing.

    2. Its members interacted. For a group of athletes to be a genuine "team," they have to cooperate, or at least coordinate their efforts, during competition. This rule knocked off teams from individual sports like Olympic boxing and wrestling and Ryder Cup golf, whose members compete separately toward an aggregate score.

    3. It engaged an opponent. In most team sports, the outcome depends both on how a team plays and also how well it defends against an opponent. But in swimming and track relays, rowing and bobsled (among others) the real race is against the clock. The two sides never come into direct contact. These sports are missing that crucial element of defense, so off they went.

    4. It played a "major" sport. To separate sports where the athletes are truly world class from small, regional ones where they aren't (hurling, for instance, or that undefeated Ultimate Frisbee team of yours) I limited my pool to sports that have hundreds of thousands of global participants at all levels and TV audiences that routinely creep into the millions.

    5. It competed at the highest level. There are dozens of sports leagues, from American college sports to Russian pro hockey, where the level of play is inferior to that found in another league somewhere else. I eliminated teams whose success occurred in these substandard arenas.

    6. It achieved lasting success. With a little luck, lots of teams can win a single championship, even two. To make sure a team's record was the product of a winning "culture" rather than a lucky bounce or two, I restricted my list to dynasties that lasted for at least four years.

    In the end, I came up with two claims any truly elite team would have to make:

    1. It had no major holes in its resume. Twenty-eight of these finalist teams missed out on some major opportunity to prove themselves. Some, like the 1961-67 Green Bay Packers, did not always meet the champions of a rival league. Others, like the dynastic men's field hockey teams from India in the 20th Century and the 1992 U.S. Olympic men's basketball "Dream Team," rarely competed outside the Olympics. Others won Olympic titles or World Cups in years when some of the top teams didn't participate.

    2. Its accomplishments were unique. This was the simplest claim, but also the toughest one to make. To rank among the all-time greats, a team must have achieved some streak of wins or titles that is unmatched in its sport. This test narrowed the list from 106 to just 16 -- and that's where I stopped.

    After this, I'm sure you're still wanting to see who his top all-time best teams in history were. Well, here you go:

    These are considered by him the top 10% of the top 1% of teams in sports history, chronological order.

    Collingwood Magpies Australian rules football (1927-30): This Melbourne team, known as The Machine, won a record four consecutive Grand Finals.

    • New York Yankees MLB (1949-53): The only team in baseball history to win five straight World Series titles.

    • Hungary International soccer (1950-55): The "Golden Team" lost only twice in 53 straight matches, outscoring opponents 222-59.

    • Montreal Canadiens NHL (1955-60): The only team to win five straight Stanley Cups.

    • Boston Celtics NBA (1956-69): Won an unparalleled 11 titles in 13 seasons, including eight in a row.

    • Brazil Men's soccer (1958-62): The only team to win consecutive World Cups when all the world's top teams participated. Went undefeated in three of five seasons.

    • Pittsburgh Steelers NFL (1974-80): Won an unrivaled four Super Bowls in six seasons. (The 2001-17 New England Patriots and 1981-95 San Francisco 49ers each won five Super Bowls over long stretches of excellence, but neither team's record was unique).

    • Soviet Union International ice hockey (1980-84): The Red Army team went 94-4-9, winning an Olympic title and three straight world championships. Once defeated a team of NHL All-Stars 8-1 in an exhibition.

    • New Zealand All Blacks Rugby union (1986-90): This All Blacks team won the World Cup and went undefeated in 23 straight international tests.

    • Cuba Women's volleyball (1991-2000): Won three straight Olympic gold medals, four World Cups and back-to-back world championships.

    • Australia Women's field hockey (1993-2000): The Hockeyroos won two Olympic gold medals, back-to-back World Cups and four consecutive Champions Trophies.

    • United States Women's international soccer (1996-99): The "99ers" won the Olympics and the World Cup, posting an 84-6-6 record and a 31-match unbeaten streak.

    • San Antonio Spurs NBA (1997-2016): Reached the playoffs a record 19 straight times (winning five titles) and posted an unmatched 71 percent long-term win rate. No NBA team has ever sustained excellence for so long.

    • Barcelona Club soccer (2008-13): Won 15 overall trophies including four Spanish titles and two Champions League crowns while winning or drawing 92 percent of its league matches.

    • France Men's handball (2008-15): Les Experts won three of four world championships, two European crowns and back-to-back Olympic titles.

    • New Zealand All Blacks Rugby union (2011-15): The only team to win consecutive Rugby World Cups amassed a 55-3-2 overall record over this time span.

    And Micheal Jordan's Bulls are no where to be found, and he apparently has reasons for that. :) So, do you agree with his thesis? It seems to hold weight in my book, especially over the argument that one team or another is just "better" over all.

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    Hard to argue with his logic. I certainly agree with the Yankees and Spurs entries. Though there's one metric he might should also consider - the competition for those teams at the time.

    This would be a really hard one to factor in, and very subjective. But to give an example, the Celtics reign from 56-69 was in large part do to the league being considerably smaller.

    Check this out.. in 1960, the NBA's 15th season ever, only had a grand total of 8 teams. Only 4 in the West, and 4 in the East. That means the Celtics only needed to compete with 3 other teams to make it into the finals.

    Compare that to today's league of 30 teams, having to compete with 14 others to make it to the finals, and it's pretty hard to say that the Celtics feat was that impressive, over what the Bulls did in the mid 1990's (when there was 26-30 teams during Jordan's reign).