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Doppelgangers: NBA/NFL Edition


Inspired by the Wall Street Journal’s Chris Herring, we here at The Sports Brunch decided a good way to fill part of this two week football layoff would be to create an entertaining article in which we decide which NFL teams and NBA teams match up most closely with each other.  After hours of collaboration and a draft to decide which writer will provide supporting arguments for which teams, we are very excited to present our results.

New England Patriots and San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs and the Patriots have been the most dominant teams of the century so far, with both franchises winning four titles each since 1999. Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick are geniuses and two of the best all-time coaches in their respective sports. They manage to turn water into wine in with any ordinary player that happens to appear on their roster. Tim Duncan and Tom Brady, the stars who have been there through it all, are the best athletes of their generation. – Chris MolickiCowboys_and_Lakers__250_x_300__display_small2

Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers: Staubach. Magic. Aikman. Kobe. Emmitt. Kareem. Irvin. Shaq. These are all icons from franchises that are known for the legends that have graced their lore. And that’s not even counting guys like Randy White, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jerry West. The Cowboys and Lakers have such rich history and are known for their starpower. America’s Team and Hollywood. It’s no coincidence that high-profile players have brought with them success; Dallas and Los Angeles have the second most championships all-time of any NFL and NBA team. – Will Anari

Pittsburgh Steelers and Boston Celtics: To state the obvious, the Steelers and the Celtics have been the winningest organizations in their respective sports, but this comparison goes much further than that. Both squads have die-hard fanbases in cold-weather cities, and both fan-bases have rooted for some of the all-time best players in sports. I’d venture to bet the Russell-Bird-Pierce trio in Boston probably beats out the Bradshaw-Harris-Roethlisberger trio in terms of hometown popularity, but not by much. These are two of the most storied franchises in the history of sports, and they just belong together. – Joe Caputo

San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bulls: For me, this one was easy. Both teams are respectively defined roughly by one decade, and tremendous supporting casts around a top 3 player in the history of the sport. Not only have Joe Montana and Michael Jordan won a combined 10 titles in an extremely short period of time, they also never lost one. Throw in the fact that neither team has enjoyed much success since the 90s and the legacies of the Niners and Bulls look eerily similar. – Joe Caputo

New York Giants and Miami Heat: Despite some hiccups here or there, the Giants and Heat have been model franchises for success, especially recently. In the past ten years, the two have combined for five titles. Ownership has set the tone, but the teams have been inspired by true leaders, such as Eli Manning, Dwyane Wade, and Michael Strahan. This has led to constantly high expectations for New York and Miami. Players like Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, and Odell Beckham Jr. have the future looking bright. But there is still work to do. – Will Anari

New York Jets and Los Angeles Clippers: These “little brother” franchises are the secondary squads in their great cities. However, that’s about to change. It hasn’t been easy for the Jets, but after building around a dominant defense, it looks like they’re ready to take the next step. On the contrary, the Clippers have emerged thanks to their offense, and have overshadowed the Lakers after drafting Blake Griffin and acquiring Chris Paul. But beware; we’ve heard this story before. The Giants and Lakers can take control of the city in the blink of an eye. – Will Anari

Oakland Raiders and New York Knicks: These are two franchises that have been tortured in recent memory (only 3 winning seasons between the two of them since 2003). Owners Al Davis and James Dolan have made irrational decision after irrational decision that led to a decade plus of hell for the Knicks and Raiders. But it wasn’t always bad, as each team won a few titles in the 70s and 80s. Now, promising youngsters like Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Derek Carr, and Amari Cooper have given hope to these die-hard fanbases. – Chris Molicki

Carolina Panthers and Golden State Warriors: This is certainly arguable, but the Warriors and Panthers are on top of the food chain in their respective sports. Also arguable, but they probably have the best players in each sport in Stephen Curry and Cam Newton. From dabbing to postgame flight music videos, these two squads have started pop culture phenomenon. If there are teams that represent “right now,” it’s these two. – Chris Molicki

New Orleans Saints and Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks had a rough stretch in the 90s (239-549 record), while the the Saints have had nine seasons of three wins or less. But both franchises finally broke through by winning their first titles in in 2009 (New Orleans) and 2011 (Dallas) on the backs of loyal and beloved superstars Drew Brees and Dirk Nowitzki. Sean Payton and Rick Carlisle are both overlooked and underrated head coaches that are two of the top coaches in their respective sports, having sustained success for the most part of the past 15 years. – Chris Molicki

Arizona Cardinals and Toronto Raptors: The Cardinals and Raptors have finally made the move to the top of their leagues, which is big for fans who haven’t seen much winning out of their teams. Toronto has won one playoff series in franchise history (although they have only been around since 1995), while the Cardinals had only won one playoff game up until 2008. Maybe that’s because players have used them as stepping stones for their careers, eventually bolting. The Cardinals and Raptors are where athletes like Anquan Boldin, Tracy McGrady, and Chris Bosh got their starts, but they didn’t give those franchises a whole lot to cheer about. – Will Anari

Denver Broncos and Houston Rockets: The biggest similarity between the Broncos and the Rockets is they both won their only titles in back-to-back years in the 90s. The championships were led by legends in Hakeem Olajuwon and John Elway. And yet, despite being very competitive in the past decade or so, neither team has been able to get over the hump, as they’re still stuck on the cusp of another ring. Since 2000, Denver and Houston have made the playoffs 17 combined times and come away empty, with their most recent runs being humbled by the Colts and the Warriors. It has fans wondering: are we good enough to win big? – Chris Molicki

Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Pistons: Although the Ravens don’t have as much history as the Pistons, both teams have most recently been defined by flat-out tough defense. If you were ever going to compare an NFL player to an NBA player, look no further than Ray Lewis and Ben Wallace, two of the most feared defensive players in their respective sports. Both of these teams have won recent championships with their defense and clutch play. – Joe Caputo

Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Cavaliers: Despite Seattle finally breaking through in 2014, the Seahawks and Cavs have dedicated fanbases that are hungrier than ever. So it helps that each team is currently having a great run of success on the backs of their respective saviors: Russell Wilson and LeBron James. While other teams are ahead of them at the moment, Seattle and Cleveland will be in the mix for a long time to come. – Will Anari

Minnesota Vikings and Washington Wizards: When you think Vikings, you think disappointment. From Gary Anderson to Brett Favre to most recently Blair Walsh, Vikings fans have felt victory ripped from their hands on more than one occasion, making them a perfect candidate to couple with the Wizards. Known as the Bullets in the 80s, Washington’s team visited the playoffs in all but two years between 1980 and 1988, but were only able to make it out of the first round once. However, both teams seem to be turning the corner now with some young talent and could have championships in their future. But until then, Washington’s one title is all there is between the two cities. – Joe Caputo

Buffalo Bills and Brooklyn Nets: Both the forgotten New York teams in their respective sports (yes, Buffalo is in New York), the Bills and Nets have exactly zero titles to boast. Both franchises have been to successive title games (four straight for the Bills), but neither has anything to show for it. If there were an alternate universe where getting to the end and losing were the objective, these two squads would be immortal. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, that is simply not the case. – Joe Caputo

Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Timberwolves: The bad for Jags and T-Wolves fans: They had to endure a brutal stretch in the late 90s, followed by cellar dwelling in the 2000s. Jacksonville had four straight playoff runs from 1996 to 1999, but never made a Super Bowl. The Timberwolves spent seven consecutive seasons from 1996 to 2003 being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. Neither team has been over .500 since 2007.  The good? They have arguably the best crops of young talent in their respective sports. In Jacksonville, you have Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and T.J. Yeldon. As for Minnesota, there’s Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, and Zach LaVine. Fans are getting giddy, and they have every right to. – Will Anari

Atlanta Falcons and Oklahoma City Thunder: Once upon a time, the Falcons and Thunder (then Sonics) were led by human highlight reel players in Michael Vick and Shawn Kemp. However, when their time with the franchises was over, Kemp and Vick had short resurgences (in Cleveland and Philadelphia) before starting to decline. Now, both teams have an absurdly freakish athlete leading the way (Julio Jones and Russell Westbrook), but have struggled to reach the championship level despite being winning squads for most of the past decade. Atlanta and OKC fired coaches Mike Smith and Scott Brooks, who were annoying fanbases with their incompetence, but it remains to be seen as to whether Kevin Durant and Matt Ryan can lead them to the promised land. – Chris Molicki

Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia 76ers: Two once-great franchises are simply mired in a couple really bad slumps. The cities of Philadelphia and Miami once housed all-time greats like Dr. J, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Dan Marino, and Larry Csonka. Whether it was Miami’s perfect season back in 1971 or the magical run in Philly in 1983, these cities both at one point knew what it was like to be on top, but the way things have gone in recent years, not many Dolphin or Sixer fans remember that feeling. – Joe Caputo

Houston Texans and New Orleans Pelicans: Despite originally being the Hornets, the Pelicans, like the Texans, haven’t been around the block for a very long time. However, they’re both ready to make their mark behind perennial MVP candidates Anthony Davis and J.J. Watt. Except…they haven’t quite made it yet. After this year’s NFL playoffs, Houston showed they weren’t ready yet, while New Orleans continues to flounder in the West. But as long as they have Watt and Davis, the future will remain illuminated. – Will Anari

Los Angeles Rams and Milwaukee Bucks: The Rams have recently relocated from St. Louis to Los Angeles, and the Bucks could be on the move as well. The current makeup of these teams is based on athletic, flashy, defensive talents that make them a pain to play against (Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams, among others). However, that has only led to finishes hovering around .500 for the current squads. It’s up to the development of potentially transcendent talents in Todd Gurley and the Greek Freak to get these franchises their second-ever titles after legendary offenses got them their first titles (The Greatest Show on Turf and NBA Leading Scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). – Chris Molicki

Philadelphia Eagles and Phoenix Suns: High-powered offense is what these franchises are about, whether it was Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, Steve Nash and the “7 Seconds or Less” Suns, or Chip Kelly, who is always in a hurry. But they always manage to come up short, with the Suns losing in three conference finals in six years and the Eagles losing three straight NFC championship games and four in eight years. We’ll see if the thirst for innovation will help these teams get to the top of the mountain (0-4 combined in championship games/series). – Chris Molicki

Chicago Bears and Portland Trail Blazers: Everyone knows that Chicago loves their Bears. But did you know that Portland adores their Blazers? That’s right, the fans of Rip City are among the best in all of sports. Both franchises have great history, but only one title to their names; the Bears in 1985 and the Blazers in 1977. Both rings were earned by popular franchise faces who are now T.V. guys in Mike Ditka and Bill Walton. Now, it’s time to look to the future after years of being solid, but not quite good enough. With Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Portland may have a leg up on their counterpart in Chicago. – Will Anari

Tennessee Titans and Utah Jazz: The Titans and Jazz combine for the same amount of titles as the Nets and Bills, but have been to half the title games. While both franchises have had their share of minor success and elite talent, neither has been able to maintain any type of consistency. Both organizations have experienced a relocation and both seem to be in perpetual rebuilding mode. – Joe Caputo

Washington Redskins and Atlanta Hawks: Here are two devoted fanbases who haven’t seen a ton of success as of late. But that may be about to change. The Redskins made it to the playoffs this past year and seem to have found their quarterback for the future, while the Hawks are on the rise after making the Eastern Conference Finals last year (LeBron is still in the way, though). – Will Anari

San Diego Chargers and Denver Nuggets: I’m not going to sit here and spew bullsh*t to try to convince you this is a spot-on comparison. Trust me, when the number one argument for the couple is that the teams share the same colors, you know you’re running out of ideas. While both squads are relatively seasoned, neither has experienced even remote success…ever. In the past decade, both had been defined by primadonna star players (until Carmelo left for New York), and neither seems to have a clear direction going forward. We’ll see these two in the playoffs every few years, but rarely do they take advantage of those opportunities. – Joe Caputo

Cleveland Browns and Charlotte Hornets: Nobody can match the agony that Browns fans have had to endure, but the Hornets have tried to keep up by posting the worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history in 2012 as the Bobcats (.106). Jimmy Haslam and Michael Jordan have been horrific owners in recent years for two teams that have had cases of identity crisis (Ravens-Browns, Hornets-Bobcats). The organizations haven’t sniffed postseason success in far too long (no playoff wins in the past decade) and have become laughingstocks. – Chris Molicki

Detroit Lions and Sacramento Kings: While both teams once had the greatest player of his time, neither took advantage. Oscar Robertson and Barry Sanders passed through Cincinnati (now the Kings) and Detroit and neither team even had a championship appearance to show for them. We see glimpses from these franchises every now and then, but that’s pretty much it. – Joe Caputo

Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Orlando Magic: There’s a lot of new talent on these two Florida squads. Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and (most likely) Doug Martin are the future for the Bucs, while the Magic have a plethora of young guns in Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, and Mario Hezonja. And they’ll need all the upside they can get to bring their franchises success that was tasted not too long ago. Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in 2002 thanks to a dominant defense; now it may be their offense that brings them back. Orlando made two NBA finals in a 15-year span behind Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. This time, their backcourt may be the main attraction. – Will Anari

Kansas City Chiefs and Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies weren’t an NBA franchise until 1995, so these similarities can only go back so far. However, the current model of both teams is pretty much the same: play conservative on offense and smashmouth on defense. Mike Conley is the quarterback for Memphis, while Alex Smith is the point guard on Kansas City (see what I did there?), and neither team turns the ball over much. The defenses of the Chiefs and the Grizzlies are certainly forces to be reckoned with, but with both seemingly a step or two away from a championship, is the game passing them by? – Chris Molicki

Cincinnati Bengals and Indiana Pacers: Let’s face it. There’s not much rhyme or reason for this one. Recently, both teams have been perpetual contenders, but nothing more. Both cities have enjoyed the rise of big-time homegrown talents like Paul George and AJ Green, but that has not equated to much playoff success. However, neither team seems to be going anywhere and both teams always fine themselves in the playoff hunt, so it’s only a matter of time before one breaks through…………right? – Joe Caputo

With 32 NFL teams and 30 NBA teams, there was always going to be two football franchises left out. Who knew it’d be the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts. There just didn’t seem to be the right comparison for either of them. However, they do have some similarities to each other. Both won titles at the very beginning of the NFL behind legendary quarterbacks Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas, then won again with top QBs Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. The Packers got another ring from a stud signal caller in Aaron Rodgers, and maybe Andrew Luck isn’t too far off from doing the same.

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