The Miami Heat’s winning streak is now up to 20 games. Only four teams in NBA history have ever won 20 straight games, and at this point you’d have to say that LeBron and company have a legitimate shot at eclipsing the all-time record of 33 games, which was set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
If the Heat do set a new record—and that’s still a big if—it would be a momentous occasion. The mark set by Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and company is one of the greatest streaks in sports. It’s right up there next to the Patriot’s 21 consecutive regular season NFL victories, the Chicago Cubs’ 21 straight MLB wins, and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 17 straight NHL Ws.
However, there are a lot more impressive sports winning streaks out there besides the ones from the four major North American sports leagues. If the Heat get all this attention for getting within 14 games of setting a new record, why shouldn’t some of these other crazy streaks get some attention, too?
Well, today they do. Here is a list of 15 impressive winning streaks from the world of sports that you might not have heard of. Some are from major leagues, others from minor leagues. But they are all impressive, regardless of the sport or the level of competition. So let’s give them their due.
In 2004, this 7x F1 World Champion won a very impressive 5 races in a row. Then he lost one race by a fraction of a second, finishing 2nd. After that, he won 7 races in a row. So while 7 consecutive Formula One Grand Prix victories was a record, Schumacher was actually less than one second away from 13 consecutive...which is probably why he is considered one of the greatest race car drivers of all time.
Oh, and the previous record of 6 wins in a row? Schumacher set that, too. FYI.
15. Michael Schumacher – 7 Grands Prix
Richard Petty had a pretty okay year in 1967. The NASCAR legend won 10 races in a row—from the Myers Brothers 250 on August 12 to the Wilkes 400 on October 1—and 27 races overall. Of course, some people would place an asterisk next to this record since it was set before 1972, when a number of significant changes were made to the NASCAR season. But I say no asterisk is needed here. Dominance is dominance. And 10 victories in a row is dominance.
14. Richard Petty – 10 Races
So Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of all-time, is he? Well, his best winning streak is 7 consecutive tournaments, which he won from 2006-07. And he also has a steak of 6 and a streak of 5. But Byron Nelson won a ridiculous 11 tournaments in a row in 1945. That has to be the most dominant stretch of play in the history of the PGA, doesn't it?
13. Byron Nelson – 11 Tournaments
The Buffalo Bandits joined the indoor National Lacrosse League in 1992 and were immediately successul. That season, they won the championship, and the next season, they achieved the first and only perfect season in the history of the NLL—and they won the championship again. All together, the Bandits won 22 consecutive games between the 1992 and 1994 seasons. Considering they only played 8 games in a season at the time (and only 16 games a season now), that's pretty good.
12. Buffalo Bandits – 22 Games
Last year at this time, everyone was talking about the Detroit Red Wings' impressive home winning streak. Meanwhile, in the AHL, the Norfolk Admirals were busy setting a far more impressive record: most consecutive regular season pro hockey victories. They finished the 2011-12 campaign with 28 straight Ws. After that they went 15-18 in the playoffs to win the AHL's Calder Cup. Then they extended their streak to 32 games by winning the first four games of the 2012-13 season.
Sure, they may just be a minor league team, but that is still an incredible run worthy of the pro hockey record.
11. Norfolk Admirals – 32 Games
The most consecutive wins by any team in one of the world's "major" soccer leagues is 17. That record was set by Inter Milan of Italy's Seria A back in 2006-07. However, the winning streak by Jordanian club Al-Faisaly FC makes that one look like nothing. Apparently they won 32 consecutive games from 2001 to 2003. I say "apparently" because this is hard to verify given that I don't read Arabic, and there doesn't seem to be any reputable English websites with info about the Jordanian Football League.
However, if this record should prove to be false, there's another good one to take it's place: Portugal's Benfica FC (definitely) won 29 straight games from 1971-73. So there.
10. Al-Faisaly FC – 32 Games
The Indoor Football League hasn't been around that long*, and it's not exactly a big deal outside towns like Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Allen, Texas; Loveland, Colorado; or Casper, Wyoming. However, it is a legitimate professional football league, and the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Storm won an impressive 40 straight games from 2005 to 2008.
*The IFL was created when the Intense Football League (founded in 2003) merged with the United Football League (founded in 2005). The Sioux Falls Storm's winning streak occurred while they were members of the UFL.
9. Sioux Falls Storm – 40 Games
Indoor soccer hasn't really been that popular since the late 80s, and even then it was only popular in certain regions. However, the sport is still around today, and the San Diego Sockers of the Professional Arena Soccer League just saw their 48-game winning streak come to an end. The streak began on December 29, 2010, and it ended just a couple months ago on January 27, 2013.
This is the longest winning streak ever by an American professional sports team. Way to go, Sockers.
8. San Diego Sockers – 48 Games
Did you ever wonder about the longest winning streak for a thoroughbred horse? Well, it is a ridiculous 56 races. The feat was accomplished by Camarero, a stallion bred and raced in Puerto Rico. He didn't lose from April 1953 to August 1955, and even after that, Camero only lost twice. His final record was 73-2.
When Camarero died in 1956, about 10,000 people attended his funeral ceremony.
How many people do you think will be at your funeral?
7. Camerero – 56 Races
Just how dominant was Martina Navratilova in the mid-80s?
Well, Björn Borg won 49 matches in a row in 1978, then another 48 in a row from 1979-80. That was pretty amazing. Down below him there is Novak Djokovic with 43 in a row in 2010-11, and of course Roger Federer, whom some call the greatest of all time, with 41 wins in a row from 2006-07.
Over on the women's side, the winning streaks are a little longer. Whereas the guys max out in the 40s, most of the big women's streaks max out in the 50s. However, Steffi Graf has a streak of 66 straight wins. But then there is Navratilova, with a whopping 74 straight victories in 1984.
That is a record.
Oh, and just prior to that record, Martina won 54 in a row from 1983-84. So that beat's Borg's stretch of dominance by...I don't know...a lot.
6. Martina Navratilova – 74 Matches
Just let this number sink in for a moment: Julio César Chávez started his career 87-0. From 1981 to 1993, the guy fought 87 times and didn't lose or draw one. And this streak was only broken by a controversial draw against Pernell Whitaker.
Do you think even an NBA team with LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell could win 87 straight games?
Actually, maybe. But that's still amazing.
5. Julio César Chávez – 87 bouts
The UCLA Bruins men's basketball team won an insane 88 straight games from 1971-1974. Nobody ever thought that record could be beat in the modern era. But then along came the UConn Huskies women's basketball team, and they won 90 straight games from 2008-2010. That streak included two 39-0 National Chamionship seasons in a row.
Now, I know some will say that women's basketball isn't as competitive as men's, and I guess that is true in one sense. But there are an awful lot of good female ballers in college and a lot of good programs, and it's not like the Huskies didn't have to play them. So for my money, this streak is one of the best of all-time in any sport.
4. UConn Women's Basketball – 90 games
From 1977 to 1987—that's right, an entire freaking decade—Edwin Moses did not lose a 400m hurdles race. The record during that time? An unbelievable 122-0. And he would have won more if the U.S. had not boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics. As it is, the dude still won two gold medals ('76 and '84) and one bronze ('88).
3. Edwin Moses – 122 races
Speaking of decade-long winning streaks, private California high school De La Salle won 151 straight games from 1992 to 2004. That streak doubled the previous high school football record of 72 straight victories. During that span, they were named California state champs all but one year (1994), and they were named national champions by USA Today 5 times.
That's a pretty good run. But it's only #2 on the list. You won't believe this next winning streak.
2. De La Salle High School Football – 151 games
With 555 straight wins from 1981 to 1986, Jahangir Khan isn't just the greatest squash player of all-time. He's got to be considered one of if not the most dominant athlete of all-time. Period. I mean, 555 straight wins? Not one blister, not one cold, not one plain old bad day? That is insane. But it happened, and I'm willing to bet you've never even heard of this guy.