With the Carolina Panthers having one of their best seasons to date, we thought it might be appropriate to take a look back on some of the great sports teams in North Carolina history. Take a look at our list below of the top 5 teams in North Carolina history – and since this list is highly debatable – feel free to comment with which team you think is the best!
5. 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes
Finishing first in the Southeast Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference, the 05-06 Carolina Hurricanes were a force to be reckoned with. The team hit their stride mid year, winning 13 out of 14 total games in the month of January. Cam Ward emerged as the starting goaltender, with Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Justin Williams and veteran Rod Brind’Amour leading the team in scoring. They beat the Montreal Canadiens in 7-games to become Stanley Cup Champs.
4. 2003-2004 Carolina Panthers
The most amazing thing about this Super Bowl contender was where they came from. The year prior, the Panthers were the worst team in the league, with a 1-15 record. John Fox took over as head coach in 2003 and signed Jake Delhomme, an undrafted quarterback who had previously played in NFL Europe. Receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed helped lead the team to its first ever Super Bowl, where the Panthers fell just shy of beating the Patriots, and lost 32-29.
3. 1981-1982 North Carolina Tar Heels Men’s Basketball
The 1981 Tar Heels squad was stacked with talent. Led by James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and a young freshman named Michael Jordan who you may have heard of, the Tar Heels would win the National Championship under coach Dean Smith. Worthy would go on to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, while Jordan would take home ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
2. 1991-1992 Duke Blue Devils Men’s Basketball
Led by All-American Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, Duke was able to capture its 2nd national championship in as many years. The team won its first 17 games in a row, finishing the season with a 25-2 record. In a game against the number 2 seed Kentucky, Laettner hit a last second turnaround jumper to beat Kentucky and head to the Final Four. The Blue Devils went on to defeat Michigan’s Fab Five in the Finals to become the first team in 19 years to repeat as national champs.
1. 1992 North Carolina Tar Heels, Women’s Soccer
Led by Mia Hamm, the Hermann Trophy recipient for the top female soccer player in both 1992 and 1993, the Tar Heels Women’s Soccer team were literally unstoppable. They went undefeated for a 3-year stretch from ‘91-’93, capturing NCAA championships in all three years. It would be hard to put together a more dominant group of talent in any sport.