In a new 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 Utah, home of the NBA’s Jazz and MLS side Real Salt Lake.
No. 1 — Real Salt Lake (est. 2005)
- 11 playoff appearances
- 3 CONCACAF Champions League berths
- 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final
- 2013 U.S. Open Cup final
- 2 conference titles (2009 East, 2013 West)
- 2009 MLS Cup champions
While things were tough at the start, RSL was a playoff team by its fourth MLS season. Then in 2009, the unthinkable happened. Led by franchise legends Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, and Nick Rimando, RSL rode their last-day playoff berth all the way to the MLS Cup final. Facing the heavily favored LA Galaxy, Real pulled off the upset, winning the championship in a penalty shootout.
Led by their three franchise legends, RSL reached the CONCACAF Champions League final in 2011, followed by reaching both the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup finals during the 2013 season.
Since that first postseason appearance in 2008, Real has been one of the league’s most consistent clubs, making the playoffs 11 times in 14 years. Just last season, the club clinched a playoff berth on the last day of the campaign, making it all the way to the Western Conference final.
No. 2 — Utah Jazz (est. 1975, relocated 1979)
- 31 playoff appearances
- 11 division titles (6 Midwest, 5 Northwest)
- 2 West titles
- Franchise-best record – 64-18 in 1997
While the first five years in Salt Lake were less than memorable, the Jazz turned a corner during the 1983-84 season. In that season the team reached the playoffs for the first time, winning 45 games and a division title, as well as a first-round playoff series.
Things only got better from there. In the 1984 NBA Draft, the team selected point guard John Stockton, followed by selecting power forward Karl Malone in 1985. From then the Jazz continued to get better, breaking through with a conference finals trip in 1992.
After trading for Jeff Hornacek in 1994, the Jazz finally reached their full potential, making back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998 before losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls both times.
A few more seasons led by Stockton and Malone followed, with 2003 marking a 20th straight playoff appearance. After a few down years, the Jazz returned to relevance by making the playoffs five times in six years from 2007-12, led mainly by Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur.
After a rebuild, the Jazz recently made the playoffs in six straight seasons (2017-22), although a trade of franchise legend Rudy Gobert seems to signal the team is headed in a different direction.