Debating the GOAT—or Greatest of All Time—for a particular sport is probably one of the most common and hotly debated discussions. Ask a bar full of fans: What are the greatest sports teams ever? and you’ll likely receive differing responses and spark a heated argument. The discussion starts as a simple list. But as more possibilities emerge, the debate over the qualities and statistics that actually define a great sports team boils over. Is it the number of championships? Or is it record-breaking stats or win-loss records? Can you even compare a team in the NBA or MLB to Australian rugby or women’s soccer?
At the center of that conversation is where Sam Walker, founding editor of The Wall Street Journal’s sports section, found himself as he set out to write Captain Class, his new book about the 16 of the alltime best sports teams—and what exactly they have in common.
Walker ultimately chose the greatest sports teams ever—from the 1955-60 Montreal Canadiens, to the 1986-90 New Zealand All Blacks, to the 1996-99 U.S. Women’s National Team. Below, we asked Walker and SI editors and writers to tackle the debate for the NFL, NBA, MLB and club soccer.