This past Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended their city's 52-year major sports title drought by beating the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, which were clearly rigged. It was the first championship for the Cavaliers in their franchise's 45-year history.
Amazingly, this is not the longest an NBA team has gone before winning its first title, and definitely not as long as a lot of teams in the other three major sports leagues have gone before winning their first titles.
Here are the longest first-championship droughts in each of the four major sports leagues –- that is, the longest it has taken a franchise to win its first title since joining its league. Here are a couple caveats and clarifications:
- I'm not counting AFL, ABA, or WHA championships.
- I'll be starting a former ABA and WHA team's clock from the year it began playing in the NBA and NHL, respectively.
- For former AFL teams, I'll be starting from the first Super Bowl season (1966-1967), even though the NFL and AFL didn't merge for another few years.
- For the NBA, NFL, and NHL, I'm counting the year the season ended as the season, so for instance, Super Bowl XX was played after the 1985 season, but it was played in 1986, so that counts as 1986.
- For MLB, I am counting 1903 as the first year possible, since that was the year the first World Series was played.
- For the NHL, I am counting 1927 as the first year possible, since that was the year of the first official NHL playoffs and the year Lord Stanley's Cup became a permanent fixture in the NHL, although that really didn't come into play, since the Original Six all won titles pretty soon after 1927.
- Since the NBA, NFL, and NHL seasons have ended this year, I've added another year to any current droughts, since obviously a team that hasn't won the title this year cannot win one until 2017.
With that, here you go:
1. 77 years: Philadelphia Phillies (1903-1980)
2. 63 years: Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns (1903-1966)
3. 56 years: Texas Rangers/Washington Senators (1961-present)
4. 55 years: Houston Astros/Houston Colt .45s (1962-present)
5. 52 years: Los Angeles Dodgers/Brooklyn Dodgers/Brooklyn Robins/Brooklyn Superbas (1903-1955)
6 (tie). 47 years: San Diego Padres (1969-present); Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots (1969-present); Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos (1969-present)
9. 41 years: Los Angeles Angels/Anaheim Angels/California Angels (1961-2002)
10. 38 years: Seattle Mariners (1977-present)
1. 49 years: Detroit Pistons/Ft. Wayne Pistons (1950-1989)
2. 48 years: Phoenix Suns (1969-present)
3. 46 years: Los Angeles Clippers/San Diego Clippers/Boston Braves (1971-present)
4. 45 years: Cleveland Cavaliers (1971-2016)
5. 42 years: Utah Jazz/New Orleans Jazz (1975-present)
6 (tie). 39 years: Brooklyn Nets/New Jersey Nets/New York Nets (1977-present)*; Denver Nuggets (1977-present); Indiana Pacers (1977-present)**
9. 30 years: Dallas Mavericks (1981-2011)
10 (tie). 27 years: Minnesota Timberwolves (1990-present); Orlando Magic (1990-present)
*The Nets won ABA titles in 1974 and 1976 prior to joining the NBA
**The Pacers won ABA titles in 1970, 1972, and 1973 prior to joining the NBA
1. 56 years: Minnesota Vikings (1961-present)
2 (tie). 50 years: Atlanta Falcons (1967-present); Buffalo Bills (1967-present)*; San Diego Chargers (1967-present)**; Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers (1967-present)***
6. 48 years: Cincinnati Bengals (1969-present)
7 (tie). 42 years: Pittsburgh Steelers/Pittsburgh Pirates (1933-1975); New Orleans Saints 1968-2010)
9. 37 years: Seattle Seahawks (1977-2014)
10. 36 years: San Francisco 49ers (1946-1982)
*The Bills won AFL titles in 1964 and 1965 prior to joining the NFL
**The Chargers won the AFL title in 1963 prior to joining the NFL
***The Oilers won AFL titles in 1960 and 1961 prior to joining the NFL
1. 49 years: St. Louis Blues (1968-present)
2 (tie). 46 years: Buffalo Sabres (1971-present); Vancouver Canucks (1971-present)
4. 44 years: Los Angeles Kings (1968-2012)
5. 42 years: Washington Capitals (1975-present)
6. 37 years: Arizona Coyotes/Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets (1980-present)*
7. 31 years: Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars (1968-1999)
8. 26 years: Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers (1980-2006)**
9. 25 years: San Jose Sharks (1992-present)
10. 24 years: Ottawa Senators (1993-present)
*The Jets won WHA titles in 1976, 1978, and 1979 prior to joining the NHL**The Whalers won a WHA title in 1973 prior to joining the NHL