In this special series, I’ll be ranking each major professional sports franchise (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, etc.) in each of the states with at least two teams.
The teams will be ranked by the amount of success they’ve had in their current market, not accounting for previous locations of the franchise. However, if the team played in a different league but still played in its current home state, those records will contribute to the rankings.
Any playoff or tournament appearances, wild card berths, division titles, conference/league titles, major championships, and the franchise’s single-season wins/points records are accounted for, as well as the overall success of the team and certain eras of its history.
Next up, is the state of North Carolina, home of the NBA’s Hornets, NFL’s Panthers, NHL’s Hurricanes, NWSL’s Courage, and MLS side Charlotte FC.
No. 4 — Hornets (est. 1988, returned 2004)
- 10 playoff appearances
- Franchise-best record – 54-28 in 1996-97
Established in 1988, the Hornets drew large crowds immediately even as the team struggled.
Led by Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues, Alonzo Mourning, and Dell Curry, the Hornets first reached the playoffs in 1993, winning a first-round series over the Celtics.
During the next 10 seasons, Charlotte made the postseason seven times while finishing with a .500 record or better each year.
After the original franchise relocated to New Orleans in 2002, the Bobcats were reborn in 2004. Once the Hornets rebranded to the Pelicans, the Charlotte franchise was given back all of its previous records and branding and returned to being known as the Charlotte Hornets in 2014.
Since the franchise was reborn in 2004, the Hornets have struggled to find consistent winning, making the playoffs just three times. Now led by LaMelo Ball, Charlotte will look to build on a winning season in 2021-22 and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
No. 3 — Panthers (est. 1995)
- 8 playoff appearances
- 6 division titles (5 NFC South, 1996 NFC West)
- 2 NFC titles
- Franchise-best record – 15-1 in 2015
Playing their inaugural season in 1995, the Panthers won the NFC West title and reached the NFC Championship game in just the second season of their existence.
After six straight non-playoff seasons, Carolina won the NFC South title in 2003, reaching the Super Bowl as NFC champions before falling to New England.
A playoff appearance in 2005 with an NFC South title in 2008 came next before four consecutive non-playoff seasons followed.
For the next five years (2013-17), the Panthers went on the best run in franchise history. After back-to-back NFC South titles from 2013-14, Carolina won another division title and recorded a franchise-best 15-1 in 2015, marching all the way to a Super Bowl appearance.
The Panthers returned to the playoffs in 2017 after a one-year hiatus but are now in the fifth season of no postseason berths.
No. 2 — Hurricanes (est. 1972, relocated 1997)
- 9 playoff appearances
- 5 division titles (3 Southeast, 2020-21 Central, 2021-22 Metro)
- 2 Eastern Conference titles
- 2005-06 Stanley Cup champions
- Franchise single-season points record – 116 in 2021-22
Originally the Hartford Whalers, the franchise relocated to Raleigh in 1997. By year two, the newly-named Hurricanes reached the playoffs and won the Southeast Division title.
After a postseason appearance in 2001, Carolina returned as Southeast Division champions the following year, making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Following two-non playoff seasons and a one-season NHL lockout, the Hurricanes returned with vengeance. Winning the Southeast Division during the 2005-06 season, Carolina defeated Montreal, New Jersey, Buffalo, and Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup championship.
A playoff appearance in 2009 was followed by a nine-year playoff drought, but the Hurricanes have returned to contention since.
Beginning in 2018-19, Carolina has reached the playoffs four straight times, winning two division titles while setting a new franchise single-season points record during the 2021-22 campaign.
No. 1 — Courage (est. 2017)
- 4 playoff appearances
- 3 NWSL Shields
- 3 NWSL finals
- 2 NWSL championships
- 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup winners
Kicking off in 2017, the Courage immediately established themselves as a force in professional women’s soccer.
In their first season, the Courage won the NWSL Shield and reached the NWSL final. During the next two years, North Carolina won two more NWSL Shields, winning back-to-back NWSL championships in 2018 and 2019.
After a shortened 2020 Covid campaign where no NWSL playoffs were held, the Courage returned to the playoffs in 2021 before winning the third annual NWSL Challenge Cup in 2022.
Not ranked — Charlotte FC (est. 2022)
It’s a bit difficult to rate a team just wrapping up its inaugural campaign and while they’ll just fall short of a playoff berth, Charlotte FC has a lot to look forward to in the future.