The Cleveland Cavaliers ended more than half a century of suffering for fans in northeast Ohio on Sunday by bringing home the city’s first championship in 52 years. The title drought was the longest-running among cities with at least three professional sports teams.
With Cleveland finally earning its long sought-championship, the title for “Most Tortured Sports City” is now up for grabs. Here are the top contenders, in alphabetical order:
The Braves took home a World Series title in 1995, but Atlanta makes the cut because of what could have been. The Braves made the playoffs 14 straight times from 1991 to 2005 and won five NL pennants during that time span, but could only manage one World Series victory.
Atlanta hasn’t gotten much help from the NFL’s Falcons and the NBA’s Hawks, both of whom have never won championships for the city.
Atlanta has also seen two NHL franchises come and go, as the Flames relocated to Calgary and the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.
Buffalo is no doubt the leader in the clubhouse for most tortured sports city. The Bills won the town’s last championship in 1965, though it came in the fledgling AFL. The Bills famously appeared in four straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993 and lost all of them — including a heartbreaker in Super Bowl XXV, when kicker Scott Norwood’s game-winning field goal attempt went wide right.
The NHL’s Sabers have never won a Stanley Cup since joining the league in 1970, though they’ve had three shots at a title.
Buffalo also saw the loss of its NBA franchise in 1978, when it moved to San Diego. That franchise exists today as the Los Angeles Clippers.
Formerly home to the Big Red Machine, Cincinnati has not seen a title since the 1990 Reds swept the Oakland A’s in the World Series. Since then, the Reds have made the playoffs just four times.
The NFL’s Bengals have appeared in two Super Bowls, but were vanquished by the San Francisco 49ers in 1981 and 1988. They have not won a playoff game since 1991, despite six appearances in the last seven years.
Sure, the nearby Green Bay Packers have won four Super Bowls, but no team representing Milwaukee has won a championship since Lew Alcindor and the Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals. In fact, no other Milwaukee team has ever even played for championship besides the 1974 Bucks and the 1982 Brewers. The 1957 and ‘58 Braves won back-to-back pennants and won a World Series in 1957, but the team relocated to Atlanta after the 1965 season.
Minnesota currently holds the sports title drought record for cities with at least four pro sports teams. Kirby Puckett and the Twins won a World Series in 1991, but before that you have to go all the way back to 1954 when the Minneapolis Lakers won the title.
The NFL’s Vikings won the 1969 Championship, but lost in Super Bowl IV to the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. They also appeared in three Super Bowls in a four-year span between 1973-1976 and lost them all.
In addition to the championship-less Timberwolves and Wild, Minnesota has also suffered the loss of the Lakers (who moved to Los Angeles in 1960) and the NHL’s North Stars (who moved to Dallas in 1993).
The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the world by beating the vaunted New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series — but that’s the only title the city has ever claimed. The NFL’s Cardinals were just a few plays away from clinching an improbable Super Bowl comeback in 2009, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers came away with a 27-23 victory.
The Suns fell short of titles in both their trips to the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993, and the Arizona Coyotes have just a single Division Title to show for their 20-year history.
San Diego currently holds the American record for sports title drought, as no team from the area has won a title since the 1963 Charges took home an AFL title. Since then, the Chargers have made just one Super Bowl in 1994-95, where they were unceremoniously dumped by the San Francisco 49ers 49-26.
Tony Gwynn led the Padres to World Series appearances in both 1984 and 1998, but the Padres won just one combined game in both series in losses to the Tigers and Yankees.
Vote below in the ranker to chose the most tortured sports city.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.