December 13, 2007
Top sports franchisesMoney, success make them great
By TED WYMAN -- Sun Media
Motivation is not hard to come by for those involved in professional sports. There's the love of the game, the roar of the crowd, the sights, sounds and smells of the rink, pitch, field or diamond. There's the competitive spirit, the desire to succeed and the opportunity to see the world from the eyes of a celebrity.
But the two most significant motivating factors in today's pro sports world are money and championships, in no particular order. And they almost always go hand in hand.
As such, here's our look at the greatest pro sports franchises in the world, using those two most important factors -- trophy collecting and financial value -- as a guideline.
10. Edmonton Oilers, NHL
Here's one for the little guy. The Oilers are nothing like the rest of the teams on this list. They are owned by a consortium of investors, who stepped in to keep the team afloat in troubled waters, have had difficulty competing in the high-finance sports world in recent years and are worth just $157 million, according to Forbes. Still, the Oilers have five Stanley Cup titles in seven final appearances over just 27 years of existence. Not many franchises can say they make it to the final 26% of the time. With Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr et al, the Oilers should have their own wing in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
9. L.A./Minneapolis Lakers, NBA
The Lakers have 14 NBA titles to their credit in 28 appearances. They have been home to such luminaries as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. As such they are basketball's second-most valuable team, at $568 million.
8. Green Bay Packers, NFL
They play in the perhaps the smallest pro sports market on the planet -- Green Bay has just over 100,000 residents -- and have not only survived, but thrived in a big-money world. The Packers, who are owned by shareholders and play out of classic Lambeau Field, have nine NFL championships to their credit in 12 final appearances and are among the most popular teams in the NFL. The city is synonymous with football and has produced three of the game's greatest legends in coach Vince Lombardi, and quarterbacks Bart Starr and Brett Favre. Their current value is pegged at an incredible $927 million.
7. Manchester United, soccer
The English Premier League team is a perennial contender on the field, with 16 league championships, 11 F.A. Cups and two Champions League titles. Only Liverpool can boast more league titles (18). What sets Man U apart is its worldwide branding. With the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in the fold over the years, Man U has become both a competitive and marketing juggernaut. It is the third-most valuable sports franchise in the world, at $1.453 billion.
6. Boston Celtics, NBA
The Celtics have 16 league championships in 19 final appearances and produced perhaps the greatest dynasty in sports history when they won eight consecutive titles between 1959 and 1966. Featuring such stars as Bill Russell during the '50s and '60s and Larry Bird during the '80s, the Celtics have won championships in 26% of their seasons of existence and are now worth $367 million.
5. Dallas Cowboys, NFL
The most valuable franchise in the world, the Cowboys are valued at $1.5 billion by Forbes. The Washington Redskins ($1.467 billion) are the second-most valuable team on the planet but they don't make the list because they can't quite match the Cowboys' on-field success. Dallas has won five Super Bowls and has produced some of the game's greatest players in Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin and coaches in Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson.
4. Montreal Canadiens, NHL
The Habs have won the Stanley Cup an incredible 24 times in 33 appearances and trail only the New York Yankees in terms of North American team sports titles. Valued at $283 million, the Canadiens are well-back of hockey's most valuable team -- the Toronto Maple Leafs ($413 million). The Leafs have 11 Stanley Cups of their own, but don't make the list because they haven't won a single title in the modern era of the NHL. Meanwhile, the Habs have won 10 times since the NHL expanded from six teams in 1967. With names like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur on their all-time roster, the Canadiens have produced many of hockey's greatest moments.
3. Tiger Woods, golf
He's 31 years old and has already won 13 major golf titles and 61 total PGA events. His winnings alone make him a millionaire many times over, but Woods is more than just a golfer, he's an entity. Tiger will make more than $100 million in 2007, thanks to enormous endorsement deals, and has a net worth approaching $1 billion. He may be only one man, but that one man is a franchise in himself.
2. Real Madrid, soccer
The Spanish side has had unparalleled success on the international stage, winning nine European Champions League titles, along with 30 league championships and 17 Spanish Cups. In the late '90s and early 2000s, Real was deeply in debt, so the club controversially got its training facility rezoned and used the money to secure transfers for players like Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. Seven years later, the team has a value of $1.036 billion.
1. New York Yankees, baseball
With 26 championships to their credit, the Yankees are the most decorated pro sports team in North America. They didn't win a single title in their first 21 years of existence, but have won it all in 31% of the seasons since 1923. Home to many of baseball's all-time greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are a team that much of the sports world loves to hate. That's probably because the "evil empire" has won 16 more championships than any other team in baseball (the St. Louis Cardinals have won 10). George Steinbrenner's Bronx Bombers are valued at $1.2 billion.