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Opinion: The greatest sporting teams in history

Wednesday 19 Oct 2016 12:19 p.m.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

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As the All Blacks seek their 18th consecutive win on Saturday and claim the world record for tier one victories in a row, they now rank as one of the best sporting teams of all time, if not the best. 

A winning record of 77 per cent in 113 years of sporting competition is remarkable, and they've been rugby's benchmark for decades, with three World Cup triumphs.

Throw in the fact that Steve Hansen's win ratio is 92 percent over 63 games and there's no debating their brilliance.

However, sport is all about opinion - and some may argue that only a handful of teams can actually win the Webb Ellis Cup, and the depth of competition isn't there.

So, if not the All Blacks, which is the greatest team of them all? Here's a list of international and club sides who still capture the imagination for their amazing sporting achievements.

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  • Basketball: LA Lakers, 1971-72

(Wilt Chamberlain - Getty Images)

If there's a sport that loves numbers and stats, it's basketball. But there's no denying that this Lakers unit is viewed as one of its finest. 

They won 69 games, including a league-record 33 in a row, on their way to defeating the Knicks in the finals. 

While names such as Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich and Jerry West don't resonate as much as the likes of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, that number of 33 has stood for 44 years. 

Golden State Warriors came closest to eclipsing their success, hitting 28 across two seasons (2015-16) while also setting a new NBA regular season record for wins with a total of 73 of 82 games played.

*An honourable mention also goes to Jordan's 1996 Chicago Bulls, which broke the Lakers' long-standing record for regular season wins with 72.

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  • Football: Brazil, 1958-70

(1970 Brazil side - Getty Images)

Despite not having won the World Cup since 2002, Brazil's history, flair, brilliance and swagger enshrines them as the best of all time. 

They've snared five cups in total, but the 1958-70 side was littered with genius. Pele burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 1958, with the likes of Vava, Jairzinho, Garrincha, Tostao and Rivelino rewriting the football rulebook. 

England's 1966 triumph could have been very different if the South Americans hadn't been hacked, kicked and scythed out of the tournament in 1966. 

*An honourable mention goes to the Manchester United side of 1998-99, who earned the treble of a league title, FA Cup and Champions League crown, a feat that is unlikely to happen again.

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Cricket: West Indies, mid 1970s-early 1990s


(West Indies side 1986 - Getty Images)

The criteria for this article is reasonably broad, but for sheer excitement and viciously terrifying bowling, combined with international dominance and population size, the West Indies has to be on the list. 

From the mid-1970s to late 80s, they cut a swathe through the game. 

A four-pronged bowling attack of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner scared the living daylights out of opposing batsmen, while "Master Blaster" Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge could win a game single-handedly. 

Malcolm Marshall came through in 1978 to continue the "chin music" theme of short-pitch bowling, while Curtly Ambrose once took 7 for 1 against Australia. 

And the stats speak for themselves: 15 years at the top, two one-day World Cups ('75 & '79), 11 consecutive test victories in 1984 and two 5-0 "blackwashes" vs England. 

*An honourable mention goes to the Australia side of 1999-2000, who still hold the record for 16 consecutive wins, and featured the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.

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  • League: Queensland State of Origin, 2006-16


(Queensland State of Origin side - Getty Images)

Considering the competition level, intensity and standard of player on show, Queensland's 10 Origin titles in the last 11 years is remarkable. 

However, the Maroons haven't always been the dominant force. After a drawn series in 2002, New South Wales won three on the spin, before the 2006 series when Darren Lockyer inspired Queensland to a final game victory of 16-14, thanks to late tries from Brent Tate and Clinton Schifcofske. 

With the curse broken, Queensland then won six series in a row. Most galling was the Game III defeat in 2015, as the Blues were pummelled 52-6. 

Having four once-in-a-generation players (Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis) has undoubtedly aided Queensland's superiority, but there are high hopes that the likes of Matt Moylan, Jarryd Hayne and James Tedesco will usher in a new era of success for the Blues. 

*An honourable mention goes to the St George Illawara Dragons of 1956-66, who won 11 consecutive Premierships. 

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