Other Notable Sports Winning Streaks – Hartford Courant
The UConn women’s basketball team is approaching a 100-game winning streak. If the Huskies beat South Carolina Monday, they likely won’t be challenged until the NCAA Tournament, so let’s take a look at streaks in other sports.
MLB: The 1916 New York Giants, coached by John McGraw, have what is listed as a major league record 26-game winning streak. But the Giants’ streak actually includes a tie after win No. 12, when a 1-1 game was halted after eight innings by rain. It would have been replayed if necessary at the end of the season, but it wasn’t needed with the Giants in fourth place in the NL. The streak went from Sept. 7 to Sept. 30.
NBA: The Los Angeles Lakers won 33 in a row, a streak that ended on Jan. 9, 1972. They went 69-13 that season, winning the championship. The streak was stopped by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks, 120-104. Abdul-Jabbar, a future Laker, would win the MVP Award that year, ahead of the Lakers’ Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain.
NBA II: This is one of those “will never happen again” things, especially with free agency in the mix. The Celtics won eight straight championships from 1958-59 to 1965-66. The dynasty, built by center Bill Russell and coach Red Auerbach, was halted in 1967 (when the Sixers won), but the Celts won again in 1968 and 1969 for a hard-to-fathom 10 titles in 11 seasons.
NFL: It’s an amazing 18-game winning streak, but the Patriots don’t feel all that good about it. The Pats of 2007-08 lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants, 17-14. But before the big game, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady teamed to set a record for most wins in one season, surpassing the Miami Dolphins’ 17-0 record of 1972-73. Still, that Super Bowl loss remains the most painful of Brady’s career, he says.
NHL: The Pittsburgh Penguins hold the longest winning streak, at 17 games from 1992 to 1993. Throwing in a few ties, the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers had a 35-game undefeated streak. If you want futility, the Winnipeg Jets had a 30-game winless streak in 1980-81. And this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets won 16 in a row but lost 5-0 to the Capitals in their attempt to tie the Penguins.
College football (Div. I): Bud Wilkinson was a player, coach, broadcaster and politician. He also holds one of the greatest coaching records, leading Oklahoma to 47 straight wins from 1953 to 1957. When the Sooners’ run ended with a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame, it was the first time in 120 games they had been shut out. Oklahoma also has 31- and 28-game winning streaks.
Tennis: The remarkable Martina Navratilova had 74 consecutive pro singles wins in 1984, easily topping the No. 1 man: Bjorn Borg had 49 in 1978 and 48 in 1979-80. The closest woman to Navratilova’s mark is Steffi Graf with 66 in 1989-90. Navratilova’s record included 13 straight tournament titles (three of them majors). She also had winning streaks of 58 and 54 matches in her career.
Boxing: What a way to start a career. Julio Cesar Chavez turned pro and won 87 bouts in a row. Chavez, a six-time world champ in three weight divisions, didn’t lose from 1980 to 1993, a record for all divisions. His unbeaten streak extended to 90 (after a draw in fight No. 88), until he lost to Frankie Randall.
Golf: Byron Nelson had 11 PGA tournament wins in a row in 1945, including the PGA Championship, a match-play event then and the only major played that year because of World War II. Tiger Woods is second with seven in a row (2006-07).
College squash: Trinity College, right here in Hartford, coached by Paul Assaiante, won 252 in a row. The Bantams’ streak ran from 1998 to 2012, ending when they were beaten by Yale. Trinity had 13 national championships during that span.
More squash: Jahangir Khan, who was born in Pakistan, won 555 matches consecutively, the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports as recorded by Guinness World Records. Of course, he’s called the Babe Ruth of squash. He retired as a player in 1993 and served as president of the World Squash Federation from 2002 to 2008.
College soccer: North Carolina women’s coach Anson Dorrance didn’t lose for 103 games in a row, until UConn beat the Tar Heels in Storrs. The unbeaten streak that had started in 1986 ended when the Huskies defeated the Tar Heels 3-2 in overtime on Sept. 22, 1990. The Tar Heels rebounded from that lone defeat to win their fifth straight NCAA title in 1990, avenging the loss by beating the Huskies in the final game 6-0 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Track: From 1977 to 1987, Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive 400 meter hurdles races, including 107 finals — 10 years without a loss. Moses, who won gold medals in the 1976 and 1984 Olympics, set the world record in the event four times. Moses was finally beaten by American Danny Harris Madrid on June 4, 1987, but then won his next 10 in a row.
Men’s college basketball (Div. I): We all know about John Wooden’s 88-game winning streak at UCLA, which was surpassed by the UConn women in 2010. The Bruins had more close games than the Huskies, and saw their streak end in a heartbreaking 71-70 loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 19, 1974. Although UCLA’s Bill Walton hit 12 of 14 shots, the Bruins couldn’t get him the ball enough. The Irish, who once trailed by 17, went on a late 12-0 run to close it out.
UConn men’s basketball: Nowhere near a national mark or close to the UConn women, but their record winning streak is 23 games in 1995-96. After losing the second game of the season to Iowa in OT in the Great Alaska Shootout, Jim Calhoun’s team beat Indiana on the final day of the event, then began rolling. They got a 63-62 win over BC in the first Big East game, and a 116-46 rout of Central along the way. The streak ended with a 77-65 loss at Georgetown on Feb. 19, 1996. The team, with Ray Allen, Doron Sheffer, Ricky Moore and Travis Knight, went 32-3, first in the Big East, but lost in the Round of 16.