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In the United States, the four major professional sports leagues, the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB, have expanded tremendously in the past century. Their growth has been seen both in popularity and in exploring new markets.
This growth has pushed many teams to rebrand, relocate and make new movements, as you can see on this website. Some of the teams thrived after all these changes, while others struggled to make it and exited from the sports space altogether.
However, some of the now-defunct pro teams experienced success during their active days, unlike some present-day teams that have barely made it to playoffs. Sometimes, one can’t help but wonder when they’ll re-experience the once glory days.
13 Greatest Sports Teams that are now-defunct
Here is a showcase of some of the greatest sports teams that disappeared from the American National Sports League’s radar.
In 1973, the England Whalers managed to win the first championship during the World Hockey Association and made it to playoffs in the subsequent seasons. Whalers later moved from Boston to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1974, becoming one of the many WHA teams to be part of the 1979-1980 season.
The Whalers were loved and celebrated in their city and across the state. Despite being inexistent, the team has found strategies to remain one of the NHL’s most popular sports brands. It sells merchandise with the “Whale Tail” logo, and it is actively mentioned in Movies, some classic rock stations named after it, and featuring in some videogames.
In case you were not aware, there existed a professional basketball team in Buffalo. The Buffalo Braves was based in western New York in the period 1970 to 1978.
The team later moved to San Diego and renamed itself to Clippers. In 1984 the Clippers team then relocated to Los Angeles, and they still play to date. The Buffalo Braves team has made an appearance in three playoffs in their 8-year history.
One of their achievements was winning one postseason series where they beat 76ers in three best of in the year 1976.
Having outstanding players like Billy Cannon and George Blanda, the Houston Oilers were recognized as top class of the AFL. The Houston Oilers won its first two AFL championships in 1960 and 1961 consecutively. They played in Texas for 36 years, starting from 1960 to 1996.
The team made it to 10 playoff appearances in Houston. In 1970 the Oilers joined NFL during the AFL-NFL merger and stayed in Houston up to 1997 when it moved to Tennessee. Two years later, Oilers changed their name to Titans. Later in 2002, Houston Texans replaced them.
You may wonder how a professional Hockey team was feasible in Atlanta, given it was a warm-weather city. For years this has emerged as the new norm. In 1999 the Thrashers were founded and lasted in Atlanta up to 2011 when the franchise moved to Winnipeg, changing Jets’ name.
The thrashers only made it to one playoff in the 2006-2007 season during their 12-year history. The team, unfortunately, failed to win any championship.
The Washington Senators played actively for 60 years from1901 to 1960 in Washington D.C before relocating to Minnesota and rebranding its name to Twins. They were part of the MLB baseball and managed to win one championship.
In 1961 a new Senators team emerged but soon left for Texas in 1971. Washington D.C, in the past, has struggled with grasping onto its baseball teams. This has since been changed by the coming of the Washington Nationals in the year 2005.
Syracuse city used to have a professional sports team called Syracuse Nationals. The frequent contender for the earliest NBA titles, Syracuse Nationals, made it to playoffs every year during their 14-season history.
The Syracuse won themselves the 1955 NBA title and actively played from 1949 to 1963. Unfortunately, in 1963, the team was sold off to a Philadelphia native leading to their name change to Philadelphia 76ers.
This legendary team stood out as one of the few WHA teams that made it to join the NHL in the 1979-1980 season. Quebec has emerged winner in one WHA championship and made it to seven playoffs in the first eight NHL seasons.
Historically it is known as the first Canadian hockey team to relocate to America and renamed itself to Colorado Avalanche. Within its first season in Colorado, the Avalanche managed to win the Stanley Cup.
The most recently defunct team within American pro sports is Seattle Supersonics. Thinking about Supersonics brings to mind its great players like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, its great jersey, and a broken-hearted loyal fan base when it relocated.
Before becoming defunct, the Supersonics flourished for four decades with huge support and success in Seattle, Washington. From 1967 to 2008, the Sonics played in Seattle, managing to win six division titles, three conference championships, and finally not withholding their NBA title in 1979.
However, in 2006 the Supersonics moved to Oklahoma shortly after being purchased by Clay Bennet and Oklahoma City businessman.
Canton, Ohio, is famously known as home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was once home to the biggest early pro football teams. In 1920, the Canton Bulldogs became a founding member of the Professional football Association.
In 1922 and 1923, the Bulldogs remained undefeated after winning the first two NFL championships consecutively. In the new league held in 1926, there were too many teams for the league’s president to support financially.
By lousy luck, Canton was among the teams to be disbanded to keep NFL activities at bay, leaving behind surviving teams like Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants.
You probably know of Baltimore Orioles from the MLB, but that’s not where the name originated. The original Baltimore Orioles dates back to 1882, when the team played for 18 seasons in professional football’s early iterations.
It spent ten seasons in the American Association and the other eight in the National League. However, it never lasted in the NL as it joined the other three teams in packing and leaving the arenas altogether after the 1899 season.
In 1954, the Baltimore Orioles franchise moved to Maryland from St. Louis, Missouri, where they are to date.
There were two great teams in the American Association, an early baseball association in the 1800s, and Philadelphia Athletics.
When the Player’s League got created in 1890, it pushed up player’s salaries and threw these top teams out of business. That saw a new athletics franchise coming up in 1901. The team was forced to move to Kansas City in 1955 and later to Oakland in 1968, where it remains to date.
The Cincinnati Royals were active in the years 1948 to 1972. They played in the Basketball Association of America, which is now the NBA. They emerged as the winners of the second-ever NBA championship back in 1951, making them a team to watch in the association.
The team’s prowess in the game was mostly in the 1950s and 1960s. However, in the 1970s, they started struggling, and their grip for the game became slippery.
In 1972, they moved to Kansas City, where they changed their name to the Kings. They later moved to Sacramento in California in 1985.
Having taken an active involvement in sports between 1920 and 1926, the Akron Indians are one of the teams that helped launch the American Professional Football. These first games were the birth of the National Football League (NFL).
It was known as the Akron Pros when it won the first-ever APFA championship in 1920, a season where it went unbeaten, banking eight wins and three ties. Despite all these successes, Akron folded out after the 1926 season due to financial hitches.
Great Sports teams can seize to function due to numerous reasons like relocation to a new city, rebranding of the franchises name, which makes them a new different team. Teams like Seattle supersonics and Houston Oilers became defunct due to relocation and rebranding despite their outstanding success in their homelands.