I'm going to provide my picks for the best teams in the 1990s. I'm factoring in championships, playoff appearances, amount of winning and losing seasons, and overall consistency throughout the decade. Consistency is the biggest factor in these rankings.
Note: In order to make the top 10, a team had to have won at least one championship in their respective sport. Also, the NBA, NHL, and college basketball seasons start in 1989-90 and end in 1998-99. Here is my top ten teams for the 1990s starting with No. 10:
New York Yankees: I know most are shocked to see the Yankees barely making the list at No. 10. However, the reason is because it was a tale of two halves of the decade for the franchise. They did win three World Series titles in the 1990s, but also failed to make the playoffs in the first four years of the decade in which three of them were losing seasons. They had the best record in baseball in 1994, but a strike cancelled the post-season. They went on to make the playoffs every year for the rest of the decade and they got their three World Series rings in that time period, too. Their early years of the 1990s costed them from moving up higher than this.
Atlanta Braves: Even though the Braves only had the World Series title in 1995, they missed the playoffs only once throughout the entire decade. The team finished with eight straight division titles(three in the old NL West, five in the current NL East) to close out the decade. With only one losing season in the entire decade, the Braves were easily the most consistent team in MLB despite only the one World Series title. With an outstanding starting rotation and Bobby Cox as manager, the team was highly successful after being the laughing stock of baseball in the late-1980s.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Like the Braves in baseball, the Penguins made the playoffs every year except in 1989-90. The Penguins won two Stanley Cups behind the excellence of Mario Lemieux. After drafting Jaromir Jagr in the 1990 Entry Draft, the Penguins went on to win two straight Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Lemieux and Jagr were an awesome 1-2 scoring tandem. Though the team didn't win another Stanley Cup after 1992, they were still competitive for the remainder of the decade by making the playoffs every year.
Detroit Red Wings: Detroit had two Stanley Cup titles in the 1990s, and also made another Finals appearance in 1995. The team had only one losing season in 1990, and made the playoffs every year of the decade after that. The Red Wings made the Stanley Cup Finals more times than the Penguins in the 1990s which is the only reason why they are ranked higher than them. The Red Wings were the most successful NHL franchise in the late-1990s.
Dallas Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the 1990s and that is plenty enough to put them on the list. The team had seven 10-win seasons in the 1990s and only missed making the playoffs twice. Dallas also won six NFC East Division titles in the decade, and put together one of the best dynasties in football history on the field from 1992-95 when they won three Super Bowls in four years.
Duke Blue Devils men's basketball: The Blue Devils make the list after winning two national championships and five appearances in the final game. The Blue Devils only missed making the Final Four tournament once in the decade, and no other team made as many Final Fours or Championship game appearances than they did in the 1990s. Coach K put together some of the greatest teams in NCAA history on the floor in those years.
Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball: Easily the most successful women's program ever, coach Pat Summitt built the women's team from the ground up. In the 1990s, the Lady Vols won four national titles under Summitt including three in a row from 1996-98. What is even more impressive about their dominance is that not only did they make the final tourney game six times, they were only seeded lower than No. 4 once. Oh yeah, the year they were seeded lower than No. 4 was 1997 when they were a No. 10 and that still didn't stop them from winning the championship that year.
Nebraska Cornhuskers football: The Nebraska Cornhuskers may have very well put together the best teams in college football history between 1994-97 when they won or shared three national titles. The team lost only twice in those four years, and finished every season of the decade ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. Coach Tom Osborne went out on top with a national title in 1997(shared with Michigan) by pounding Tennessee in the Orange Bowl.
Florida State Seminoles football: In my opinion, the Florida State Seminoles were the most consistent team of the 1990s. With two national titles in 1993 and 1999, that would be enough for any team to make the list. However, the reason they are ranked No. 2 on the list is because they ranked in the top 5 of the final AP Poll every year of the decade! Also, they won ten games every year for the decade, and had extended that streak they had started in 1987 by finishing in the AP Top 5 and winning at least ten games every year. Consistency is why they are ranked at this spot.
And my No. 1 team for the 1990s is.....
Chicago Bulls: Their six NBA Championships in the 1990s are plenty enough reason for them to ranked No. 1 on the list. They only missed the playoffs once in the decade, and never lost a series in the NBA Finals in six tries. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and company won those six titles in eight seasons. Also, they went a remarkable 72-10 in the 1995-96 season, and that team is widely considered to be one of the best in NBA history. Jordan was not only the face of the NBA in those days, but all of sports. He backed up that image by leading the dominating Bulls team to the promised land with two three-peats in the decade.
Others that I considered:
Denver Broncos:: Winners of back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997-98, the Denver Broncos have a case to make the list. The Broncos missed the playoffs five times during the decade and had three total losing seasons which is why they miss making it.
Green Bay Packers: They barely miss the list as well. They missed making the playoffs four times in the decade, but did win a Super Bowl and was a runner-up in back-to-back years.
Buffalo Bills: They are automatically exempt from making the list with no league titles in the decade. However, they made the Super Bowl for four straight years, but the team had some down years in the late-1990s.
Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball: They quite possibly are the team that has the best argument for making the list. However, they did have two national titles and one other finals appearance in three successive seasons. The fact that they missed the tournament in the first two years of the decade because of probation is why they just missed the cut. It is still very hard to leave them off.
Houston Rockets: Two NBA Titles will get you consideration on this list. They lost a first round series four times in the 1990s and missed making it another time. It's very tough to keep them off the list, but I think the others like the Red Wings, Penguins, and Braves were more consistent.
Toronto Bluejays: They did have two World Series titles in the decade, but fell off too far after that to make the cut.
Portland Trail Blazers: They miss the list because of not winning a league title in their sport. However, they made the playoffs every year for the entire decade, and eventually made it 22 years in a row before their streak was snapped. Thanks mojomike for the info on the Blazers!
Utah Jazz: Like Portland, the Jazz did make the playoffs every year of the decade, but did not win a league title.
LSU Tigers baseball: They had four national titles in the 1990s. It's very hard to leave them off with their accomplishments as a program, but I am not putting them in front of the Yankees. They have the biggest argument on making the top 10.
Top Ten teams by sport:
College Football: 2
College Basketball: 1
Women's College Basketball: 1
That is my top 10 teams for the decade of the 1990s. Be sure to check out my Blog List of friends to the right of the page for more impressive reads out there!