March 27, 2013

2013: Year of the Winning Streak

By - Brad Heerschop

It's times like these that sports enthusiasts everywhere live for, because there is nothing more exciting to arm-chair athletes than the incredible streaks that teams go on during their long seasons.

This has been a year of many long runs by teams in professional sports. As such, I have been prompted to look back at some of the longest winning streaks of the four major sporting leagues; the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL.

The obvious place to start this list is the NBA. If you don't currently reside in a cardboard box, you are probably aware of the streak the Miami Heat are in the midst of. LeBron James and company have won 27-consecutive games, and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Photo by: Getty Images
Although their record is currently in peril, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers still hold claim to the longest winning streak in the history of professional sports. Their 33-game streak began the day after Elgin Baylor announced his mid-season retirement, 9 games into the season. Led by Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, the Lakers coasted through the regular season with an impressive 69-13 mark, and went on to win the 6th championship in the history of the franchise -- the first since moving to LA in 1960.

Fans of the Hollywood blockbuster movie "Moneyball" will note that the 2002 Oakland A's hold the American League record for consecutive victories with 20. Some will argue that the MLB record is 26, held by the New York Giants in 1916. However, that statistic includes one tie, so it doesn't qualify in my book.

That places the 1935 Chicago Cubs and 1880 Chicago White Stockings as co-owners of the longest ever streak in the Majors, at 21 games. The great thing about the record, is that both clubs are the same franchise. The White Stockings would become the Cubs shortly after the turn of the century.

The 1935 Cubs hold the distinction of longest run of consecutive wins since the birth of the World Series. The club had their first 100-win season that year, with a mark of 100-54 en route to a National League pennant. They would come up short in the World Series, though, losing to the Detroit Tigers in 6 games.

The 2008 and 2009 Indianapolis Colts hold the record for most consecutive regular season victories with 23. The Peyton Manning led Colts didn't lose a regular season game for a period longer than a calendar year. The streak lasted from November 2nd, 2008 until December 27th, 2009.

The longest winning streak in NFL history counting both regular season and playoff victories is 21, held by the New England Patriots. Led by Tom Brady, the Pats won every game from October 5th, 2003 until October 31st, 2004. Again, a streak of longer than one full calendar year.

It's your call as to which is the record for consecutive wins in the NFL. Personally, I lean towards New England's accomplishment, considering Indianapolis did lose a playoff game in the middle of their impressive streak. Not to mention, the dynasty that is/was the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII during their great run.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Blackhawks were working towards the Philadelphia Flyers' record streak of 35-straight games without a regulation loss, but their run was halted at 24 games. Regardless, as with baseball, the record point streak for the 1979-80 Flyers is not the number I will use for these purposes, since not every game resulted in a Philly win.

With their 1-0 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins have now won 13-consecutive games. During the streak, the Penguins became the first team in NHL history to have 3-straight seasons with a run of 10 or more consecutive wins. They are well on their way to breaking the NHL's all-time record, a mark the franchise already holds.

The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins won a record 17-straight games. The Penguins went on to win the President's Trophy that season, with a remarkable 56 wins and 119 points. However, they would not go on to win their 3rd-consecutive Stanley Cup. Despite their great season, the Penguins lost to the New York Islanders in the second round of the playoffs.

With all the excitement brought about by the current runs of the Heat and Penguins, coupled with the insanity that is the NCAA Tournament, it's no wonder I sleep less in March. This is the best time of year to be a sports fan, and this month has been anything but disappointing.

Next week, we'll take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Stay tuned for the longest winless streaks in the history of professional sports.


  1. Somebody needs to beat the Heat. If they get the all-time record the Lebron lovers will NEVER shut up about it.

  2. The Sockers hold the record for the longest winning streak in United States professional sports history. The streak, which began on December 29, 2010, was snapped after 48 games by a 6–5 overtime road loss to the Dallas Sidekicks on January 27, 2013.