Who Are the Best Florida Sports Teams of All-Time?

By  //  April 20, 2023

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By Shaun Stack

Florida is one of the best vacation destinations in the US. The Sunshine State is more than just a tourist spot, though. It has also been home to some of the best sports teams that we have ever seen.

Florida sports fans have enjoyed championship parades in just about every major sport. However, winning a championship is but one criterion for making this list of the best-ever sports teams from the Sunshine State. 

In this space, I’ll remember the five best Florida sports teams of all-time. To qualify for my list, I considered regular and postseason dominance as well as the number of championships each team won. I took into account how the top sports betting sites viewed each modern team’s championship odds during their respective runs, as well.

  1. 2019-2022 Tampa Bay Lightning 

The first team on my list is also the most recent. Tampa Bay won back-to-back Stanley Cups during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons. They dominated the NHL for three seasons and fell just short of completing a three-peat.

Tampa Bay tied the NHL record for most wins in a single season (62) in 2018. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay fell flat in the playoffs, losing in a first-round sweep to the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Fueled by the disappointment of the previous season, Tampa Bay once again made the playoffs in the 2019-2020 season. The Lighting finished the season winning 23 of their final 26 games and avenged their early exit from the previous season. 

Tampa entered the playoffs as Stanley Cup favorites at 6:1 odds. They would go on to topple the Dallas Stars and claim their first Stanley Cup since the 2003-2004 season.


In the following season, the Lightning once again proved they were one of the best teams in the NHL. Tampa finished third in the division with a record of 36-17-3, but was still favored to the Stanley Cup heading into the postseason.

In the playoffs, the Lightning had to defeat the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Islanders en route back to the finals. The Lighting then upended the Montreal Canadiens to claim their second straight Stanley Cup. 

  1. 2001-2003 Miami Hurricanes Football 

The Miami football program enjoyed success in the 1980s, winning three national championships. However, the teams of the early 2000s were even better. 

After losing one game in 2001, the Hurricanes came back the following season and left no doubt about which team was the best in college football. Miami (11-0) capped off an undefeated season with a 37-14 triumph over Nebraska to win the ’02 national title. 

In the 2002-2003 season, Miami once again made the National Championship Game on the heels of a perfect 12-0 campaign. The Hurricanes fell short of repeating as champions, though. The Maurice Clarett-led Ohio State Buckeyes upset Miami, 31-24, in a double-overtime thriller.

Despite the loss, there is no denying that the early-2000s Miami teams were some of the best college football squads of all time. Those rosters were loaded with future NFL talent, including:

  • Ed Reed
  • Willis McGahee
  • Andre Johnson 
  • Reggie Wayne
  • Vince Wilfork
  • Frank Gore
  • Sean Taylor
  • Jonathan Vilma
  • Clinton Portis
  • Santana Moss

That’s an impressive collection of talent, to say the least. However, the Canes aren’t ranked higher on the list because they only came away with one championship. 

  1. 2010-2014 Miami Heat 

The third team on my list also underachieved to an extent. In 2010, LeBron James announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach to join Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat. James’ decision changed the landscape of the NBA, and he declared Miami would win more than a handful of championships. 

Chris Bosh also signed with the Heat, officially tipping off the “Big 3” era. Miami claimed the second seed in the East in the 2010-2011 season. Heat fans would have to wait to schedule their championship parade, though. 

Oddsmakers had Miami (+175) as the preseason favorites to win the title. In the end, LeBron and the Heat fell in an upset to the Dallas Mavericks (+2000) in a six-game series. 

A lockout delayed the start of the 2011-12 season, resulting in a truncated 66-game schedule. Miami finished 46-20 and once again claimed the second seed in the East. The Heat again made the Finals, and this time they’d finish the job. LeBron and co. topped a young Oklahoma City Thunder side in a five-game series. 

Miami would make another championship run in the 2012-2013 season. Sharpshoooter Ray Allen joined Wade, Bosh, and LeBron in Miami the previous summer. The Heat earned the best record in the league at 66-16 and enjoyed a 27-game winning streak at one point during the regular season. 

James would go on to win his second Finals MVP that season. Miami defeated the Spurs in a seven-game series to win the franchise’s third NBA title. The Heat made a fourth straight trip to the Finals the following season but lost the rematch to San Antonio.

It was an impressive run, but James fell short of the eight rings he promised the fans in South Beach

  1. 2006-2007 Florida Gators Men’s Basketball 

Professional teams in Florida are not the ones that have gone on dominant runs. There have been plenty of great teams at the collegiate level, too. The 2006-2007 era of Florida Gators men’s basketball certainly fits the bill.

All five of the Gators’ Final Four appearances have come since 1994. The 2006 and 2007 March Madness tournaments were the only times that Gators won it all. Those teams were among the most talented we’ve seen in recent decades. 

Florida’s starting five for their consecutive championship runs included:

  • Joakim Noah 
  • Al Horford
  • Taurean Green
  • Corey Brewer
  • Lee Humphrey

As we have seen year after year, even the best basketball teams can struggle in the NCAA Tournament. The single-elimination bracket leaves no margin for error. The overwhelming talent on the Gators’ roster during this time was able to overcome all the trials and tribulations of the tournament. 

Four players from Florida’s starting five in those two seasons were selected in the 2007 NBA Draft. The lone exception was Humphrey, who went undrafted. 

Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer won the Most Outstanding Player award in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Noah would go on to be an All-Star center in the NBA and won the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Al Horford has also earned All-Star honors in the NBA. 

  1. 1971-1973 Miami Dolphins

The top spot on my list goes to the early 1970s Miami Dolphins. During this time, the NFL was in the early stages of the Super Bowl Era. Don Shula and the Dolphins were one of the most dominant teams in the league back then.

Miami won the AFC Championship three years in a row. This resulted in three consecutive Super Bowl appearances for Shula and the Dolphins. 

In 1971, the Dolphins defeated the Baltimore Colts to advance to Super Bowl VI. However, they’d eventually lose to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-3. Despite the loss, the Dolphins first Super Bowl appearance set the tone for the next two seasons. 

Miami followed up their Super Bowl loss with the first-ever undefeated regular season in the Super Bowl era. The Dolphins capped off their perfect season with a 14-7 triumph in Super Bowl VII. 


Shula and the 1972 Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete an undefeated season and win the Super Bowl. It is widely considered to be the best single season by any team in NFL history. 

The Dolphins’ success continued the next season, too. Miami finished the regular season with a 12-2 record. They defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders to earn a spot in Super Bowl VIII. 

Miami won the Super Bowl again, upending the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. The Dolphins became just the second team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls. They also were the first team to ever appear in the Super Bowl in three consecutive years. 

The Dolphins were 6-point underdogs to the Cowboys in their first Super Bowl appearance, but Miami won the next two as betting favorites.

Which Florida Sports Team Is Your Favorite?

The Sunshine State has a rich history of dominant sports teams. Personally, I think the early 1970s Dolphins are the best Florida sports team of all-time. Miami won two Super Bowls in three straight appearances and are still the only team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated.