On February first, the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX.
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After the confetti had fallen, and the Lombardi Trophy had been passed around, I began to ask myself a question: Are the Patriots the best NFL team since 2000? The answer, of course, is yes. So I began to ponder if they could possibly be the greatest sports team since the turn of the century?
Let’s take a look at the stats. Since 2000, the Patriots have been to six out of the sixteen championship games that have been played, including Super Bowl XXXIV which was played on January 30th, 2000. In comparison, the Giants, Steelers, and the Seahawks have played in the second most Super Bowls since 2000, only three in the past fifteen years. Not only have the Patriots played in more Super Bowls than any other team, but they’ve also been winning them. New England has won four Super Bowls this century, which is more than any other team has played in.
Clearly, no other team in football can match the amount of championships the Patriots have won, but what about teams in other sports(other sports meaning baseball, basketball, hockey, and UEFA Champions League soccer)? In the past fifteen years, only Real Madrid, Barcelona, the Miami Heat, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants have won three championships in their leagues.
There are only two other teams, besides the Patriots, that have won four championships in this young century, and they both are in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs are the only two other teams to win as many championships in their league as the Patriots have. However, the Spurs have only been to five finals, while the Lakers match the Patriots six championship appearances. Despite that fact, let’s compare those three teams and come to a conclusion on which has been the better team since 2000.
In many aspects, all three of these teams are strikingly similar. One similarity is that each team has a coach that is considered among the greatest of all time in any sport.
Bill Belichick has the most postseason wins as a coach in NFL history, and he is tied with Chuck Noll of the Pittsburgh Steelers as the only head coaches to lead their teams to four Super Bowl wins. Gregg Popovich has led the San Antonio Spurs to the best record in the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) since the 1997-98 season, and he is the ninth coach in NBA history to achieve 1,000 wins. Perhaps one of the few coaches that is considered better than Popovich in the NBA is the Chicago Bulls/ Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. Jackson has won eleven NBA titles, the most in NBA history, and he took his teams to ‘three-peat’ the NBA title three times.
Feb 2, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks during the Super Bowl XLIX-Winning Head Coach and MVP Press Conference at Media Center-Press Conference Room B. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
All three of these coaches will go down as some of the best ever. However, when you look at what they each did during the 21st century, I believe that Jackson and Belichick are the two that stand out as the best since 2000.
Another feature that these teams have in common besides the championships and the spectacular coaches is that each team has a player that is in the G.O.A.T talks.
The Patriots have had Tom Brady under center for the past fifteen years, and he has climbed up the ranks for greatest quarterback of all time to sit on top of the mountain right next to Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Brady has thrown the most touchdown passes in Super Bowl history and he holds many other postseason records. Personally, I believe Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, but I do write for the Patriots FAN website so I am a little biased.
The Los Angeles Lakers have had Kobe Bryant for the past fifteen years as well. Bryant is third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and he’s won five NBA titles with the Lakers. The Spurs have Tim Duncan as the player that sticks out to me among the many great players they’ve had on their roster since 2000. Duncan has the most playoff double-doubles in NBA history, and he has also won five championships with the Spurs like Kobe.
The biggest difference between Bryant, Duncan, and Brady is the fact that Brady is probably the best to ever play at his position. While Kobe and Duncan are still overshadowed by players like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, etc. In this case, the Pats have the greatest player on the field every time they leave the locker room to play, and they have relied on him ever since he began starting games under center with the Patriots in 2001.
Feb 4, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the Super Bowl XLIX victory parade. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
The last thing that I look at when deciding which team is the best dynasty of the 21st century is which team has the brightest future, and highest potential for winning a championship in the upcoming years.
The Lakers are the fourth worst team in the NBA, and are in a rebuilding stage. They don’t have a chance to win a NBA Finals for at least another two years. The Spurs are flirting with not making the playoffs right now, and the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili trio has a limited number of years left. On the other hand, the Patriots have the potential to win another Super Bowl next year, if they can keep the majority of their current talent over the offseason.
In conclusion, each team has the same amount of championships since 2000-01 season. However, the Lakers and Patriots have been to more championships than the Spurs, and I believe they have had a better coach and better players than the Spurs.
When distinguishing between the Lakers and Patriots of the 21st century, I look to which team has the brightest future and, personally, I believe that award goes to the New England Patriots.
With everything considered, it is clear to me that the Pats are the greatest sports team of the 21st century so far, and I hope that trend will continue in the next 985 years and ten months.