A short history of the best championship sequels in sports

AP News
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Posted: Jan 03, 2017 2:26 AM
A short history of the best championship sequels in sports

In movies, sequels aren't always as good.

The same applies to sports.

So wish Alabama and Clemson plenty of luck as they go into the College Football Playoff championship game — because they've got a classic to try to recreate in Tampa, Florida on Monday night.

A year ago, Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 in a thriller. Here's hoping this remake is more akin to "Godfather 2" than "Caddyshack 2."

"You can best believe we're going to show up," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "And we're going to lay it all on the line and see if we can find a way to finish."

This is the first time in the college football title-game era — first the Bowl Coalition, then the Bowl Alliance, then the Bowl Championship Series and now the CFP — that the same two teams got to the season's final matchup.

It's not exactly an everyday thing in other sports, either.

The NBA has had two rematches in the last three title series, and 14 overall. There have been 10 instances of the same two teams getting to the Stanley Cup final in successive years, though only one such occurrence since the early 1980s — simply put, dynasties were easier to form when there were fewer teams in the league.

Baseball hasn't had a repeat World Series since the late 1970s, when the Yankees topped the Dodgers in consecutive years. There's only been one rematch in Super Bowl history. And same goes for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, with Cincinnati sweeping Ohio State in 1961 and 1962.

Here's a look at some memorable championship rematches in recent years:

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NBA

Golden State vs. Cleveland, 2015 and 2016

Winners: Golden State in 2015, Cleveland in 2016.

Which Was Better? The sequel.

The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in The Finals in 2016, losing two potential clinchers on their home floor, including Game 7. Golden State won the first matchup in 2015, though in fairness, the Cavaliers were so injury-decimated in that series, it seemed like LeBron James was taking on the world.

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Miami vs. San Antonio, 2013 and 2014

Winners: Miami in 2013, San Antonio in 2014.

Which Was Better? The original.

Not even close, either. The Spurs and Heat waged a classic in 2013, Miami needing that 3-pointer from Ray Allen with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 to stave off elimination and then winning a brilliant Game 7. A year later, the Spurs were in total control and won in five games.

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Chicago vs. Utah, 1997 and 1998

Winners: Chicago swept.

Which Was Better? The sequel.

Both series were won by the Bulls and ended in six games, but give the nod on which was better to the 1998 matchup — Michael Jordan's sixth and last time getting to The Finals , and sixth and last time winning a ring.

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L.A. Lakers vs. Detroit, 1988 and 1989

Winners: Los Angeles in 1988, Detroit in 1989.

Which Was Better? The original.

A very easy choice here. The Lakers needed seven games to topple the Pistons in 1988, getting James Worthy's only triple-double to prevail in Game 7. A year later, the Pistons swept the Lakers in the final series for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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NHL

Detroit vs. Pittsburgh, 2008 and 2009

Winners: Detroit in 2008, Pittsburgh in 2009.

Which Was Better? The sequel.

It's not like 2008 was a boring series; Detroit won Games 1 and 2 in shutouts, then lost a chance to clinch at home in a triple-overtime Game 5 before closing it out in Pittsburgh. But 2009 went seven games , with Max Talbot scoring both Game 7 goals for Pittsburgh as the Penguins won on the road to hoist the Cup.

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NFL

Dallas vs. Buffalo, 1992 and 1993 seasons

Winners: Dallas swept.

Which Was Better? The sequel, though neither was that good.

The first matchup on Jan. 31, 1993 (ending the 1992 season) was a 52-17 romp for Dallas . At least the one the following season was closer, Dallas prevailing 30-13. It marked the end of the four consecutive Super Bowl losses for Buffalo, which led at the half of the rematch before getting outscored 24-0 after intermission.

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NCAA women's basketball

Connecticut vs. Notre Dame, 2014 and 2015

Winners: Connecticut swept.

Which Was Better? The sequel.

Connecticut capped a 40-0 season in the 2014 game, rolling to a 79-58 win. The Huskies were a touch more vulnerable a year later — they actually lost once that season — and had their lead cut to five with about seven minutes left before finishing off a 63-53 win.

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Connecticut vs. Tennessee, 2003 and 2004.

Winners: Connecticut swept.

Which Was Better? The sequel.

The 2003 game might have been better, with UConn needing a pair of Ann Strother free throws in the final seconds to close out the Volunteers. But the stakes in 2004 were historic, since that game was played a night after UConn's men also won the national title — and after Geno Auriemma's women held off every Vols comeback try, they were able to give the Huskies a championship sweep.

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WNBA

Houston vs. New York, 1999 and 2000

Winners: Houston swept.

Which Was Better? The original.

The WNBA Finals were a best-of-three back then, and the Liberty sent the 1999 series to Game 3 when Teresa Weatherspoon — after Houston took the lead with 2.4 seconds left — banked in a 50-footer as time expired for an unbelievable win. But the Comets recovered to take that year's title, then needed just two games to thwart the Liberty again the following year.

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MLS

L.A. Galaxy vs. Houston, 2011 and 2012

Winners: Los Angeles swept.

Which Was Better? The original.

Landon Donovan had what became the game-winning goals in both matches. His score in 2011 , assisted by David Beckham and Robbie Keane, was the lone goal in a 1-0 Galaxy win. Donovan's game-winner in 2012 was a penalty kick, as the Galaxy prevailed 3-1.

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Houston vs. New England, 2006 and 2007

Winners: Houston swept.

Which Was Better? The original, though both were stellar.

Houston prevailed in 2006 in a penalty-kick tiebreaker, after falling behind in the 113th minute of what had been a scoreless marathon and knotting it up 71 seconds later on a goal by Brian Ching. The Dynamo erased a 1-0 deficit again a year later, winning on a golden goal from Dwayne De Rosario.