By Steve Silverman
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The Boston Celtics are next in line to win a championship, aren’t they?
After all, the city of Boston and the New England region have been dominating the professional sports landscape, and the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins have all won championships since the Celtics last took home a title in 2008. So it’s their turn next.
Since 2000, no other sports city in America can compare with the success that Boston – yes, we are considering the Foxborough Patriots Boston’s team.
When the Patriots registered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history Sunday night to defeat the heartbroken Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime, it was Boston’s 10th sports championship in the 21st century.
The Patriots have won five of those titles, the Red Sox have won three, and the Bruins and Celtics have won one each.
Most New York sports fans like to think of the Big Apple as the nation’s preeminent sports town. When it is examined from an “all-time” point of view, that assessment is correct, because New York City has 54 championships in the four major sports. That’s 18 more than Boston, which is second with 36.
The Yankees lead the way with 27 World Series titles, while the Celtics are still Boston’s most commanding franchise with 17 titles.
However, when it comes to the current century, Boston is leading the way.
The Yankees won the World Series in 2000 and 2009, while the Giants have a pair of Super Bowl titles since then – both at the expense of the Patriots. The Jets, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders have done nothing to add to the championship total, although the Mets and Blueshirts have at least reached the championship round.
Boston, meanwhile, continues to produce winning teams.
As long as quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are at the helm, the Patriots will continue to be contenders. Old age finishes every great athlete, but the 39-year-old Brady says he wants to play for another four or five years. The fact that the Patriots reside in the AFC East only helps their ability to remain a contender.
The Red Sox are loaded after acquiring left-handed flamethrower Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox and are the favorites to win the American League East this year. While David Ortiz has retired, the presence of young stars such Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi should make Fenway Park an exciting venue this summer.
The Celtics are clearly on their way, as they have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and one of the most exciting and explosive players in the league in Isaiah Thomas. While it will be difficult to overcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics are like to have a tremendous opportunity to come away with the No. 1 pick in the draft this year since they own the pick of the hapless Nets.
The Bruins have been unable to hold up their end, as they have missed the playoffs the last two years. A third consecutive miss would almost certainly result in the dismissal of head coach Claude Julien and force several other changes as well. Still, the Bruins may be the NHL team that comes closest to playing old-time hockey with their ability to punish opponents with their fists and nasty elbows.
It has been a plethora of championship riches in New England, and the region’s latest title may turn out to be the one that is celebrated the most. While few thought anything could ever touch the 2004 Red Sox World Series title that ended that franchise’s 86 years of frustration, the 25-point comeback victory over the Falcons was sensational and shocking.
Atlanta was the younger, faster and better team for three quarters, and it seemed clear the Falcons were about to win the city’s second sports championship ever, joining the 1995 Braves.
But Brady was not about to have any of it, and he found a way to take advantage of Atlanta’s man-to-man coverage in the final 15 minutes and overtime. He distributed the ball to Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Martellus Bennett and mostly James White, and the Patriots came roaring back.
Included in the comeback were two successful two-point conversions that were needed to force the extra session and White’s game-ending, 2-yard TD run to earn yet another championship for the Patriots.
With the Red Sox at the precipice and the Celtics rising, the city’s sports run shows no signs of slowing down.
New Yorkers will hate to admit it, but Boston has become America’s winningest sports city.
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