Rangers join 2023's multiple first-time title winners

ByESPN.com ESPN logo
Thursday, November 2, 2023

It has been a good year for fans of the Texas Rangers, Denver Nuggets and Vegas Golden Knights.

On Wednesday night, the Rangers won their first title after 62 seasons -- 10 of which they spent as the Washington Senators -- by defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games. That's just a few months after the Nuggets won the first title in their 47 seasons in the NBA, while the Golden Knights followed up a day later with their first Stanley Cup after first being established in 2017. You might think that it's a rare thing for three teams to win their first championships in the same season, and you'd be right, but it's not completely unprecedented.

Here's a quick list of every time multiple teams have won their first titles in the same season in recent memory.

2019:Toronto Raptors, St. Louis Blues

Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors had a playoffs for the ages, with Leonard bouncing home a Game 7 winner against the Philadelphia 76ers and then taking care of the Golden State Warriors in six. The Blues, meanwhile, got their first Stanley Cup by taking on one of the NHL's most storied franchises, the Boston Bruins, in a back-and-forth series that went the full seven games.

2006:Miami Heat, Carolina Hurricanes

Dwyane Wade averaged an incredible 34.7 points per game in the Heat's Finals win over the Dallas Mavericks, outdueling Dirk Nowitzki. The Hurricanes actually came close to blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Edmonton Oilers, but took care of business with a 3-1 win in Game 7 of the finals.

2001: New England Patriots, Los Angeles Sparks and Arizona Diamondbacks

The 2001 Patriots were the beginning of Tom Brady's legend, and their Super Bowl win over the St. Louis Rams will go down as one of the greatest games of all time. For the Sparks, the 2001 season was the first of Lisa Leslie's two title runs, and she didn't disappoint, scoring 24 points in each of the Sparks' two wins in the best-of-three finals series. For the Diamondbacks, the enduring image of their first (and so far only) title will be Luis Gonzalez lofting a single just past Derek Jeter for the winning run in the ninth inning of Game 7.

1999:San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Rams

Yes, there was a time when the Spurs had yet to win a title. In the last year of the 20th century, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich beat the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals -- and they didn't even have Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili yet. The Stars won their first Cup under a bit of controversy, with Brett Hull's series-winning goal over the Buffalo Sabres coming awful close to a crease violation. There was no such controversy for the 1999 Rams, as "The Greatest Show on Turf" clinched their first Super Bowl title when Mike Jones tackled Kevin Dyson a yard short of a potential game-tying touchdown.

1991:Chicago Bulls, Pittsburgh Penguins

All dynasties have to start somewhere, and for Michael Jordan and the Bulls, that was the 1991 NBA Finals, where they took care of business against the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Mario Lemieux won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Penguins' mini-dynasty began with an 8-0 Game 6 shellacking over the Minnesota North Stars.

1989:Detroit Pistons, Calgary Flames

The Bad Boy Pistons lived up to their name in 1989, demolishing the Lakers in four games to win their first title (they'd repeat as champions the next season). For the Flames, their first (and only) title came at the expense of the Montreal Canadiens, who had an incredible 23 Stanley Cup titles at that point.

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