The 2010s have been the decade of firsts in sports. Ten different teams in the major sports have won their first championship this decade. There’s been a lot of stories with every team. As the decade comes to a close, we look at all the teams to win their first championship this decade.
Teams To Win Their First Championship This Decade
The Los Angeles Kings did the impossible. They had one of the best stories to win the cup this decade. They finished with 95 points and were the eighth seed in the Western Conference. In December 2011, they fired head coach Terry Murray and a few days later, Darryl Sutter was named the new head coach. The Kings ran through everyone in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They beat the Vancouver Canucks and the now Arizona Coyotes in five games and swept the Blues. They faced the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and beat them in six. That was just their first of two championships this decade.
After 44 seasons, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in Franchise History in the 2017-18 season. The Capitals finished with 105 points in the regular season. They had a very talented team starting with “the great eight” Alex Ovechkin surrounded by T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, and goaltender Braden Holtby. The Capitals finally got past their rival Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and then got past a tough Tampa Bay Lightning team in the ECF. They beat the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one in the Vegas’ inaugural season. Washington was one of the best championship teams this decade.
After 52 long years, the St. Louis Blues did it. They took the hard way but they got it done. The Blues signed Tyler Bozak and David Perron in the off-season as well as traded for Ryan O’Reilly. They were predicted to be the most improved team and one of the best in the league. The Blues got off to a horrible start and fired head coach Mike Yeo and that’s when Craig Berube took over and now is the coach of the Blues. They were in last place in the entire league on January 3rd.
On January 7th, goaltender Jordan Binnington shutout the Philadelphia Flyers in his first start in the NHL. He took over as the starting goaltender and the team took off. They had an incredible run, including a double-overtime goal by Pat Maroon in game seven against the Dallas Stars on the way to the cup. They faced the mighty Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. After a tough battle, the Blues won in seven games and gave the fans what they waited for half a decade.
In their 56th season in the MLB, the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games to win their first championship in franchise history. They won 101 games and were the highest-scoring team in the league. The Astros had an MVP in Jose Altuve and a former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel. They were going all-in so they traded for ace Justin Verlander who won the ALCS MVP. They had other great pieces on that team like Carlos Correa and World Series MVP George Springer. This team was full of talented stars and it was only a matter of time they won the championship.
Finally, a World Series Championship has come to the District of Columbia. After clinching the playoffs for the third time in four years, the Washington Nationals won their first World Series in their 15 year history. The Nationals didn’t get off to a hot start at all. They started 24-33 through the first three months but they got hot in June. In June, they went 18-8 and never looked back. They were the hottest team in the MLB since June and they showed that in the playoffs.
They came back against the Milwaukee Brewers to win the wild card game. Nobody gave them a chance against the Dodgers in the NLDS. In-game 5, a late grand slam by Howie Kendrick gave the Nats a big lead and a win. They swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and faced the Astros in the World Series where they won in seven games. The three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin had to be great and they were. Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto played a huge part in offense in their run to a championship.
This decade, the Seattle Seahawks made it to back-to-back Superbowls. They lost to the New England Patriots in the 2013-14 Superbowl but won it the previous year against the Denver Broncos in a blowout. This was a great period of time for Seattle as the legend of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch grew and one of the most dominant defenses in history was born in the Legion of Boom led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor. Recognition of this organization has grown and they will always be in the conversation as long as they have Wilson.
The Philadephia Eagles have won an NFL Championship before but never a Superbowl until the 2017-18 season. They had a record of 13-3 but they lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL in the process. That’s when Nick Foles stepped in and caught the league by surprise. With the loss of Wentz, the Eagles were underdogs in every game. They beat the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, they destroyed the Minnesota Vikings in the championship round. They defeated the mighty Patriots 41-33 to win their first Superbowl in franchise history.
The whole reason this run was possible was because of the re-signing of Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki to a four-year, $80M deal. He averaged 27.7 points per game, which is about ten more points than the next player. He was dominating and was a huge reason why they won it all. The Mavericks swept the two-time defending champs in the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. They went on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference final and beat them in five games with three fourth-quarter comebacks.
The NBA Finals was a rematch of the 2006 Finals with the Miami Heat. This time, the Heat was more powerful than ever. The big three in Miami of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh was a lot to overcome but the Mavericks did it with an amazing comeback in game two and by winning three games in a row after falling 2-1 in the series. This was one of the most impressive runs and Finals win in a long time.
“Cleveland, this is for you.” Those are the words said after beating the 73-9 Golden State Warriors in seven games on the 2016 NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers had been waiting for a long time and it took the second time around for LeBron to win one for his city. They came back from a 3-1 deficit against one of the best teams in NBA history after getting beat by the Warriors in the Finals the previous year. Cleveland will remember this one for a long time.
The last championship of the decade in the NBA goes to the Toronto Raptors. After trading DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Raptors got stronger and after years of falling short, they thought that they could go all the way and they did. They breezed through the first round, but not the second round where they met the Philadelphia 76ers. Leonard took over the headlines after hitting a buzzer-beater in game seven over Joel Embiid.
They went on to face the mighty Milwaukee Bucks and after being down 2-0 in the series, they won four straight to win the series. The two-time defending and wounded Warriors made the finals yet again. Even though they missed key pieces like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, they still had a lot of championship grit on that team. Kawhi Leonard took over multiple games and brought a championship north of the border for the first time.
A New Decade
As the decade comes to a close, we look at all the memories and wonder if the next can be better than the last. All major sports have seen more than one team win their first championship. That is really great news in the sports world as they get more and more popular. It’s been a good decade for sports and we hope it duplicates this next decade.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images