Updated March 12, 2019
When you think “decades without a championship,” you probably think of the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in more than 100 years. That got us thinking: what city has gone the longest without a championship in all of the Big 4 sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) put together? (Note: We only considered cities with teams in at least two leagues.)
MILWAUKEE, 48 YEARS
With stellar play from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was still known as Lew Alcindor, the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA title in 1971. The Brewers have never won the World Series, but when the Braves played there, they won it…way back in 1957.
CINCINNATI, 29 YEARS
The Reds were the first all-professional baseball team, and were a major contender in baseball in the 1970s, when teams led by Pete Rose reached the World Series four times, winning twice. The team’s last appearance, and win came in 1990. That marks the last Cincinnati championship—the last time the NFL’s Bengals played (and lost) in a Super Bowl was in 1989.
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, 28 YEARS
All four major sports teams in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul go by “Minnesota” to make things easier, but they haven’t had much sports luck in a while. The last big sports triumph was when the Twins won the World Series in 1991. The Minnesota North Stars of the NHL never won a Stanley Cup before they moved to Dallas, and its replacement, the Minnesota Wild, are yet to hoist that famous trophy. Over in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves reached the playoffs just once in 14 years, a far cry from the days of the Minneapolis Lakers, who won three league titles (1952–1954) before heading to Los Angeles.
TORONTO, 26 YEARS
Toronto is represented in all of the Big 4 except for the NFL. The storied Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and baseball’s Blue Jays won their second of two World Series in 1993. That’s a championship drought of 26 years. (If you factor in the Canadian Football League, however, Toronto isn’t sports-starved at all. The Argonauts have won the Grey Cup 17 times, as recently as 2017.)
ATLANTA, 24 YEARS
Atlanta has teams in all four big leagues, but has won few championships. The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, the Hawks have never won the NBA title (in Atlanta; they did when they were based in St. Louis), and the NHL’s Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011 after seven uneventful seasons. The Atlanta Braves, however, won the World Series…but not since 1995.
All-time longest wait: CLEVELAND, 51 YEARS
Cleveland rocks…but not in sports. In basketball, the Cavaliers have LeBron James on the roster and went to the NBA Finals in 2007 and 2015, but lost both times. Baseball’s Cleveland Indians—so famous for losing that it was the premise of the 1989 comedy Major League—last won a World Series in 1948. Since the NFL and AFL merged in the late ‘60s, the Cleveland Browns have never contested a Super Bowl. However, it was a constant contender in the pre-merger NFL days in the mid-20th century, appearing in 11 championship games and winning four times. The last win came in late 1964…and Cleveland would endure more than five decades of athletic futility thereafter. Finally, in 2016, the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Finals over the favored Golden State Warriors after rallying from a 3 games to 1 deficit. It’s the first time in NBA history a team has come back from being down that far to then win it all.