The past two decades have been pretty good for Boston sports.
OK, that was an understatement. The last 20 years have been historically awesome for Boston’s Big Four.
Starting with the 2001 New England Patriots’ improbable Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams, Boston’s professional teams have won nine championships in the last 15 years. During a period of just six years, from 2008 to 2014, all four of the city’s major sports teams won rings — the 2008 Celtics, 2011 Bruins, 2013 Red Sox and 2014 Patriots.
The city’s prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, ESPN.com decided to rank the 20 best sports teams of the last two decades. Boston was well-represented.
Coming in at No. 16 were the 2008 Celtics, who teamed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with Paul Pierce to form a Big Three nucleus that went on to destroy the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Cracking the top 20 is good and all, but two of the most memorable squads in Boston sports history found themselves near the top of the list.
At No. 3 were the 2001-04 Patriots, who led by unheralded quarterback Tom Brady and genius coach Bill Belichick won three Super Bowls in four seasons, kicking off a run of excellence that remains unparalleled in the salary cap era.
But even that dominant squad couldn’t top the magic of the second-highest team on the list: The 2004 Red Sox. After a heartbreaking exit from the 2003 playoffs, this beloved band of idiots reversed the curse in a dramatic win over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
The only squad to top the Sox? The 1996-98 Chicago Bulls, who lost a total of 43 games in three regular seasons while winning three consecutive titles. Not too shabby.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images