The Braves floundered through most of the 1980s before beginning their stunning streak with a worst-to-first turnaround in 1991, when they won 55 of their final 83 games to make it all the way to the World Series. That was just the start of their 14-year playoff run that included five National League pennants, 14 divisional titles and six NL Cy Young awards by future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux (pictured), Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.
2 of 12Brian Lanker/SI, Chuck Solomon/SI
Following a 14-year playoff drought noted more for its off-field drama than on-field success the Yankees managed to edge their way into the playoffs in 1995, only to lose to the Mariners in the AL Divisional Series. But once Joe Torre stepped into the dugout, New York ushered in a 13-year playoff streak that included four World Series titles, six pennants and 10 division titles.
3 of 12Walter Iooss Jr./SI
With fresh new talent spread across its roster and a solid set of QBs (Roger Staunbach, then Danny White) the Cowboys lured fans and enemies as they embarked on a nine-year playoff run, claiming five Divisional titles and the Super Bowl XII trophy and established their reputation as America's Team.
4 of 12Al Tielemans/SI
Everything started to fall into place for the Colts once Peyton Manning, a quarterback from the University of Tennessee, was selected by Indianapolis as the first pick in the 1998 Draft. Head coach Tony Dungy arrived in '02 and since then, the Colts have made the playoffs ever year, winning five Division championships and Super Bowl XLI along the way.
5 of 12AP, Icon Sports Media
First as the Syracuse Nationals in the NBL, then as the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, the league's oldest franchise managed to make the playoffs a draw-dropping 25 years in a row. Owned by Italian immigrant Danny Biasone, the Nationals/Sixers, followed the lead of stars like Dolph Schayes (left) and Wilt Chamberlain (right) to win two NBA championships from 1946-1971.
6 of 12Michael O'Neill/SI, Al Tielemans/SI
Being so bad couldn't have happened at a better time for the Spurs. After posting the third-worst record in the NBA during the 1996-97 season, San Antonio won the top pick in the Draft Lottery -- a pick it used to select Wake Forest University All-American Tim Duncan. With Duncan and veteran center David Robinson serving as the team's "Twin Towers," the Spurs went on to appear in the playoffs every year since, winning NBA titles in 1999, 2003 (Robinson's last season), 2005 and 2007.
7 of 12Tony Triolo/SI
It's no coincidence that the Bruins playoff streak began shortly after the arrival of a skilled teenage defenseman from Ontario named Bobby Orr. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 on Orr's memorable game-winning overtime goal, and won another two years later.
8 of 12Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images/NHLI
The Red Wings were not far removed from their "Dead Wings" era when they began their current streak in 1991. By 1995, Detroit had won its first Stanley Cup since 1955, and have added three more since, highlighted by such stars as (from left) Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan.
9 of 12Neil Leifer/SI, Rich Clarkson/SI, Robert Rogers/SI
Despite its recent struggles, it wasn't long ago that the Big Red Machine rolled over opponents year after year. Under head coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, the Cornhuskers won national championships in 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995 and 1997.
10 of 12John Biever/SI
The Wolverines bowl would not doubt be longer if not for Big Ten rules from 1946 to 1974 that prohibited more than one team from going bowling and from the same team going to a bowl in consecutive seasons. As it is, they've won 16 Big Ten championships in the past 33 years, but only one national title, in 1997.
11 of 12Rich Clarkson/SI, Lane Stewart/SI
Once the NCAA Tournament was expanded to allow multiple teams from each conference, the Tar Heels became annual visitors to the big dance. UNC advanced to 19 Sweet 16's, 13 Elite 8's and nine Final Fours and won national titles in 1982 (thanks to a jump shot by a freshman named Michael Jordan) and 1993 under Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.
12 of 12John W. McDonough/SI, John Biever/SI
The Wildcats had made just three NCAA Tournaments in their history before Lute Olson's arrival in 1983. Starting in 1985, the Wildcats began their ongoing streak that includes nine first round losses and three second round defeats, but also Final Fours in 1987, 1994 and 2001 and a surprising national title run in 1997, when the Wildcats beat three No. 1 seeds on their way to the title.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!