Getting all the way to a sport’s championship round is a major achievement, even if you don’t win. Here’s a look at the teams in pro baseball, basketball, football, and hockey that have gone the longest between title runs.
- It’s probably the best-known championship drought in sports history: The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Moreover, the team hasn’t appeared in a World Series since 1945 (they lost to the Detroit Tigers). The second-longest drought in the big leagues isn’t nearly as long. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been to the World Series since it won it all in 1979. (At the least the Cubs have been to a World Series—the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners have never made it that far.)
- The Sacramento Kings hold the record for longest time since an NBA Finals appearance, at 64 years. In fact, the last time the Kings went that far, they weren’t the Kings, or even based in Sacramento. In 1951, the Rochester Royals won the NBA title over the New York Knicks, 4 games to 3. The team moved to Cincinnati in 1957, became the Kansas City Kings in 1972, and the Sacramento Kings in 1985. The second-longest drought belongs to the Atlanta Hawks, who similarly haven’t been to the Finals since they were based in other city. In this case, it was in 1960 as the St. Louis Hawks. The team lost to the Boston Celtics in the middle of that team’s run of eight straight titles.
- At 46 years, the longest Super Bowl draught in the NFL belongs to the New York Jets. The team’s last appearance—and victory—in the biggest game of the year game in January 1969. With the Baltimore Colts heavily favored to win, Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed that his team would win, and it did, 16 to 7. (The second longest draught: 45 years. The Kansas City Chiefs are yet to defend their 1970 Super Bowl victory.)
- The NHL team that has gone the longest without winning a Stanley Cup is one of the founding clubs and flagship teams of the league: the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last time they hoisted the Cup was in 1967—its eighth NHL title and 21st finals appearance overall. That’s 48 years without a title. Second-longest title-free streak: the St. Louis Blues with 45 years. In 1970, the team won the Stanley Cup led by legend Bobby Orr…and haven’t been back. The third longest: the New York Islanders. Not competing for a Stanley Cup since 1984, the team lost that year, after having won an amazing four championships in a row from 1980 to 1983.