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Fastest Expansion Teams to Win Championships

Check Out These Expansion Teams Which Were The Fastest To Win A Championship

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights /

When Las Vegas begins its first NHL season in 2017-18, it's difficult to say how quickly it will be able to become a championship contender.

When Las Vegas begins its first NHL season in 2017-18, it's difficult to say how quickly it will be able to become a championship contender.

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After all, the Expansion Draft rules seem to favor immediate success better than ever before. Traditionally, however, expansion teams have often struggled in the win/loss column their first few seasons.

Despite this, pro sports are littered with teams that have won championships only a few years after they were born.

Read below on the fastest expansion teams to win championships in the four major sports.

National Hockey League
Philadelphia Flyers
First Season-1967-68
First Championship-1973-74

Although the NHL enjoyed its first major expansion in the 1920s, 1967 is widely referred to as the year of the first NHL expansion, when the league doubled in size from six teams to 12.

The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the six 1967 expansion teams, and after several early postseason setbacks where they were physically manhandled by their opposition (particularly the St. Louis Blues), started acquiring the biggest, baddest bullies they could find.

The transformed "Broad Street Bullies," emphasizing physical play and the team concept (and exceptional goaltending from Bernie Parent), became a Stanley Cup contender by the early 1970s.

Facing the favored likes of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the Big Bad Bruins, the Flyers stunned Boston in the 1974 Stanley Cup Final, and won another championship the following season.

Watch: Youtube Video

Major League Baseball
Arizona Diamondbacks
First Season-1998
First Championship-2001

When the Arizona Diamondbacks entered Major League Baseball in 1998, their 65-97 record in their inaugural season had them buried deep in the National League West's basement.

Things started to change the following winter, when they signed future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson, and won more than 100 games during their second season. When the Diamondbacks added Curt Schilling to the rotation during the summer of 2000, the new team became a World Series favorite, even if buoyed by a top-heavy starting rotation.

After their second division title in four years in 2001, Johnson and Schilling carried the Diamondbacks to the World Series, where they faced the three-time defending champion New York Yankees.

A rally in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 later, and the Diamondbacks were World Series champions in their fourth season.

Watch: Youtube Video

National Basketball Association
Milwaukee Bucks
First Season-1968-69
First Championship-1970-71

It was a future decided by the flip of a coin.

After the Milwaukee Bucks posted the NBA's second worst record when they entered the league 1968-69, their futility earned them a chance at securing the first pick in that year's draft.

At stake in the coin flip between the Bucks and the Phoenix Suns (also a 1968 expansion team, and the NBA's worst team in 1968-69) was the chance to select a gangly 7-foot-2 center named Lew Alcindor.

Later changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his team into a contender after Milwaukee won the coin flip, the Bucks captured an NBA championship in their third season, 1970-71.

The Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings) and Minneapolis Lakers (now Los Angeles Lakers) also won championships in their third seasons in the 1940s and '50s; however, Milwaukee is the only one considered true expansion team, earning the Bucks the claim as the quickest NBA expansion team to win a championship.

Watch: Youtube Video

National Football League
Cleveland Browns
First Season-1950
First Championship-1950

It was back when the Cleveland Browns were a dynasty.

Cleveland wasn't a true expansion team when it entered the NFL in 1950, having been born into the All-America Football Conference in 1946. The Browns did, however, win a championship in their first season in the NFL.

Depending on your definition for "expansion team," you could also cite the New York Jets and Giants as overnight success stories.

The Giants, purchased by the Mara family for a grand total of $500 and brought into the NFL in 1925, won their first championship in 1927; the Jets won a Super Bowl in only the third year of its existence in 1969, after joining the American Football League in 1960.

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