COMMENTARY | The first part of the 2000s unequivocally belonged to Boston. Between the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox, seven championships were brought home. By comparison, New York's plethora of teams have won it all only four times in the new millennium.
When looking toward the future, each of the four seem capable of doing it again.
The "Big Three" era is over, and the Brad Stevens era has begun. Though they are only two years removed from a hard-fought Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, just three players remain from that team -- Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Rajon Rondo, who may not even be healthy to begin the year.
The Celtics completed a massive overhaul of their roster this offseason, and what they do in 2013-14 is anybody's guess.
Why they'll win it all within 5 years: Brad Stevens. Twice he took mid-major Butler to the NCAA championship game, coming within a shot of upsetting the Duke Blue Devils in 2010. He's used to getting the most out of his players. They swung for the fences with this hire, and if Stevens can adapt to the NBA game, it could pay off big time.
Why they won't: A rebuild takes time, and the Celtics are no different. Though they have a wealth of picks in the next couple years after gutting their roster, many of them look slated for the second half of the round or are otherwise protected. And they are spread over several years. The Celtics are going to need to sign some key free agents to complement their young team. Stevens is a good coach, but he is no miracle worker.
Since their last Super Bowl victory in 2004, the Patriots have made it back twice and lost in the AFC championship game another two times. Many teams would consider that a hugely successful run. Not New Englanders. They expect more from the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, who have respectively won Coach of the Year and MVP twice in that span.
The Patriots are close, and though they are off to an uneasy start in 2013, they are 2-0 and only going to get healthier.
Why they'll win it all within 5 years: Belichick is still the best coach in the game. Though his drafting hasn't exactly been up to par recently, he knows how to assemble a winning team, and players want to play for him. If he can grab castoffs from other teams -- like another Rodney Harrison -- they may finally find themselves on top again.
Why they won't: Brady is 36 years old, and not since John Elway in 1999 has a quarterback over 35 guided his team to the Super Bowl. Elway had a great cast around him, and while Brady's isn't terrible, it also isn't what it once was. Rob Gronkowski can't stay healthy, and his receiving corps is a mess. Brady used to be able to do it alone, but is he getting too old for that?
The most recent championship and championship appearance in Boston both belong to the Bruins. A Game 6 meltdown ultimately caused their downfall a few months ago, but they are still one of the stronger teams in the now-stacked Eastern Conference. Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't stand a chance against them in the third round, only scoring two goals in the four-game sweep.
It will be tougher to make the playoffs in the 16-team East, but the Bruins are eying the division and beyond.
Why they'll win it all within 5 years: Though the Bruins have one of the highest average ages in the NHL, they are young where it counts. At only 26 years old, Tuukka Rask has quietly become one of the best goalies in the league. Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, Patric Bergeron and David Krejci are all on the right side of 30 despite bringing a wealth of experience to the table.
Why they won't: How long until Zdeno Chara starts breaking down? Though he came in 5th in Norris Trophy voting last year, he's heading in to his 16th season and will be 37 before the year is out. Chara has rarely been hurt since coming over from the Ottawa Senators, missing only 15 total games during his tenure in Boston. But he can't last forever. And how will the Bruins' blue-line fare without the 6-foot-9-inch' Chara patrolling it?
Boston Red Sox
Ironically, Boston's worst team over the last few years may have the greatest chance of winning it all.
A year after winning just 69 games, 100 has entered consideration for the Red Sox. And though that isn't a good predictor of postseason success, the way they are steamrolling every opponent might be. With an 11-3 record this month, September swoons have become a thing of the past.
Why they'll win it all within 5 years: The Red Sox appear to have no real weaknesses. Early in the year, the bullpen struggled but the emergence of Koji Uehara has turned it into a strength. They have depth and talent at every position, and while Jacoby Ellsbury may be headed toward free agency, the Red Sox have trucked along without him while he's been hurt.
Why they won't: An act of God. Seriously. The Red Sox look primed to make a strong run at the World Series this year, and if they come up short, there's no reason to believe they won't be in the mix again next year. David Ortiz seems ageless, putting together one of the best years in his career, and young talent like Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks are just getting their feet wet at the MLB level. The future looks bright in Boston.
Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7.
- Sports & Recreation
- Red Sox
- Boston Celtics
- Brad Stevens
- Boston Bruins
- New England Patriots