The top non-big-4 Arizona pro sports teams of the 2010s
Dec 26, 2019, 11:22 AM | Updated: 7:41 pm
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
The Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes and Arizona Diamondbacks have combined for zero championships in the 2010s.
But that does not mean the Valley did not have its share of titles in that span. To find them, you have to go beyond the big four franchises, where the Mercury, the Rattlers and the Rising made their marks on history.
Here are the top five non-NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL professional teams of the decade in Arizona.
5. 2018 Phoenix Mercury
This Mercury team was not as dominant as another that landed higher on this list, but they were good enough to be the second-best team in the West.
They finished 20-14, had the fourth-highest scoring offense in the league and Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner both made the All-WNBA team.
They got hot at the right time. The Mercury won four games in a row to end the regular season and handily defeated the Dallas Wings and Connecticut Star in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
In the semifinals, a best-of-five-series, they faced the 26-8 Seattle Storm.
Seattle went up 2-0 with a couple of tight wins in the Northwest, but Phoenix stormed back with a dominant Game 3 win and a hard-fought victory in Game 4.
Taurasi already with 14 points in just the first quarter!
Merc 24 | Storm 23 pic.twitter.com/7UZvrWeyKc
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) August 1, 2018
The Storm prevailed in Game 5, but it was an intense series between the two Western-Conference powerhouses. Taurasi also broke the WNBA record for most playoff points during the series.
4. 2019 Phoenix Rising FC
The Rising came up short of the championship in 2019, but it was a historic season nonetheless.
Phoenix finished the year with 24 wins and 78 points on the table. It won the regular-season title as it had 10 more points than any other team in the league. The Rising scored 89 goals on the season, 15 more than any other club.
Their biggest accomplishment came from May 10 to Sept. 21, a span in which they did not lose. Their 20-game winning streak is the most in USL Championship and North American soccer history.
Solomon Asante led the team and league in goals and assists as he was named the league MVP.
3. 2017 Arizona Rattlers
This was the Rattlers’ first year in the Indoor Football League after spending 15 years in the Arena Football League.
It took them a moment to get settled as they started 0-2. But that bump in the road was a distant memory by the end of the regular season when Arizona had the best record in their conference at 12-4.
The Rattlers won their last eight games of the regular season and advanced to the United Bowl after defeating the Nebraska Danger 62-36 in the conference title game.
In the United Bowl, Arizona faced the 14-2 Sioux Falls Storm, the team that beat them in Week 1. The Rattlers got their revenge with a 50-41 victory propelled by a dominant first half.
2. 2014 Phoenix Mercury
It doesn’t get much better than winning the WNBA Finals after losing six games all season.
The Mercury entered the playoffs as the top seed in the league. They were 29-5 in the regular season with the best scoring offense and best defensive rating in the WNBA. They averaged winning each game by 9.5 points.
No team has ever won 29 games in a single regular season, and Phoenix kept that momentum going in the playoffs. It swept through the Los Angeles Sparks 2-0 in round one and beat the Minnesota Lynx 2-1 in round two.
The finals were a cakewalk. The Mercury faced the Chicago Sky and blew them out in games one and two by a combined margin of 50.
The third game was trickier, but a huge fourth quarter for Phoenix led to the sweep. Taurasi scored 24 points in the game and won series MVP.
She and Griner were selected to the All-WNBA team.
1. 2014 Arizona Rattlers
The Rattlers three-peated from 2012-2014. Overall, they went 43-11 during the regular seasons in that span.
In 2012, they defeated the Philadelphia Soul 72-54 in the Arena Bowl. A year later, Arizona beat the Soul again 48-39.
But the last year of the stretch in 2014 was their most dominant. They started the year 14-0, the best start in AFL history.
They stumbled into the playoffs, though, and finished the regular season 15-3.
After a close call in their first postseason game, the Rattlers got back into it in the conference championship and defeated the San Jose Sabercats, 72-56.
In the Arena Bowl, the Rattlers went up against the 17-1 Cleveland Gladiators.
The game was over by halftime. Arizona was up 44-13 at the break and won 72-32. The game MVP was quarterback Nick Davila, who also led the regular season in passing yards and won the AFL MVP.