Heat, Panthers can make history: NBA, NHL teams that have played for championship in same season

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It’s been quite the year for sports fans in South Florida. On Monday, the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and now advance to their second NBA Final in four seasons.

That Game 7 win in Boston came just days after the Florida Panthers upset the No. 1 seed Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final (a Panthers team that won its own Game 7 at TD Garden earlier in the NHL playoffs).

For the first time ever, two South Florida franchises are headed to play for a title in the same season.

Believe it or not, no NBA and NHL team in the same city have ever both won it all since the NBA began play in 1947. However, there have been several instances in which NBA and NHL teams in the same city have advanced to the NBA and Stanley Cup Final respectively in the same campaign.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the cities that have seen their NBA and NHL teams play for their sport’s biggest prize in the same season, to show how legendary it would be if the Heat and Panthers pull this off.

Warriors and Sharks, 2016

The Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks didn’t exactly play in the same city, but they advanced to the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final in 2016. The Warriors played at Oracle Arena in Oakland and famously blew a 3-1 series lead against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. On the other hand, the Sharks made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, but came up short against the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.

A light difference to the rule here is that — like the Heat and Panthers — the Warriors and Sharks don’t play in the same arena, or even the same city. But — like the Heat and Panthers — the two teams play very nearby and represent the same region of the state.

Nets and Devils, 2003

The New Jersey sports scene enjoyed quite a bit of success in 2003. The New Jersey Devils captured their third Stanley Cup in franchise history after they defeated the Anaheim Ducks in seven games. The New Jersey Nets went to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive season, but came out on the losing end against the San Antonio Spurs in six games.

The Nets, making a second straight trip to the Finals, came up two games short of having two 2003 championship banners raised at Continental Airlines Arena after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in six games.   

Knicks and Rangers, 1994

The 1994 season was a magical year for the New York Rangers. They captured their first Stanley Cup since 1940 when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. The New York Knicks were chasing an NBA title around that exact same time. The Knicks were just one win away from winning it all after they beat the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals. However, the Knicks dropped the final two games of the series, including losing 90-84 in Game 7 in Houston.

There were nearly two championship parades down New York’s Canyon of Heroes in 1994. It is still the closest any city has come to winning championships the same year in hockey and basketball. The Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years after beating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on June 14. The following day, in the same building, the Knicks evened the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets at 2-2. The Knicks then won Game 5, putting the team one victory away from its first title since 1973. But they lost Game 6 by two points and then fell by six in Game 7. 

Bulls and Blackhawks, 1992

This was in the middle of the Chicago Bulls dynasty with Michael Jordan leading the way. The Bulls ended up defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in six games to win their second consecutive NBA title. The Blackhawks also made their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since the 1972-73 campaign that year. However, the Blackhawks ended up being swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won their second consecutive Stanley Cup that year.

76ers and Flyers, 1980

The City of Brotherly Love got its moment in the sun in 1980. Behind Julius Erving, the Sixers only dropped two games prior to reaching the 1980 NBA Finals. However, the Sixers were upended by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals. The Flyers rolled through the Campbell Conference before falling short against one of the sport’s most prominent dynasties in the New York Islanders in six games. During that particular season, the Flyers set a record with 35 straight games without a loss.

Celtics and Bruins, 1974

The Celtics were able to reach the NBA’s mountaintop during the 1973-74 season and came away with yet another NBA title. Boston defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1974 NBA Finals behind a talented core that featured the likes of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White. Meanwhile, the Bruins advanced all the way to the 1974 Stanley Cup Final, but fell in six games at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Knicks and Rangers, 1972

The New York Knicks won their first NBA title just two years prior and reached the NBA Finals again in 1972. It didn’t have a similar result, as the Los Angeles Lakers easily dispatched the Knicks in five games. The New York Rangers also reached the Stanley Cup Final in the same season, but fell short as they lost to the Boston Bruins in six games. 

Celtics and Bruins, 1958

The Celtics were one of the NBA’s top dynasties during the 1950s and 1960s. From 1957 until 1969, they won 11 NBA titles, including winning eight consecutive from 1959 to 1966. Meanwhile, the Bruins were also quite successful during this era and reached the Stanley Cup Final during the 1957-58 season. However, the Bruins fell short against the Montreal Canadiens as they lost the series in six games. In addition, the Celtics also failed to get the job done, as they fell to the St. Louis Hawks in six games.

Celtics and Bruins, 1957

Yes, it was a sensational two-year period for the city of Boston. Much like they would one year later, the Celtics and Bruins both played for the biggest prizes in their respective sports. The Celtics defeated the St. Louis Hawks in seven games with star Bob Cousy earning MVP honors. On the other hand, the Bruins were bested by the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

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