Dynasty is a word reserved for a special type of team.
It's a team that's unbeatable and unstoppable when it really counts. It's a team other teams fear, whether or not they admit it. It's a team that inspires awe in fans, whether or not they like it. It's the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, the Montreal Canadiens of the '50s, '60s and '70s, the Green Bay Packers of the 1920-30s.
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"If people feel like we deserve that title, we'll gladly accept it," Jimmie Johnson said after he won his third straight NASCAR points title Sunday. "The cool thing about our race team is we're still young, we have a lot of years left ahead of us and we feel like there's more we can accomplish."
Becoming a dynasty is difficult. Maintaining dominance is even harder. Does the No. 48 match up against some of the great dynasties of all time? A look:
Chicago Bulls, 1991-1998
Yes: Both teams had to make spectacular plays at times — Michael Jordan's buzzer-beaters, Johnson's race-saving move. They were unstoppable in the playoffs. The Bulls three-peated twice, taking a two-year break only when Jordan retired in 1993.
No: At Jordan's peak, the Bulls were unbeatable in the regular season, too, posting multiple 60-win seasons and a 70-win season. Johnson is a playoff ace, but he doesn't do it by winning the most.
Montreal Canadiens, 1956-1979
Yes: The Canadiens were machine-like, graceful and tough all at once. Johnson displays the same qualities, and when he's focused, nothing can distract him enough to derail his championship.
No: Twenty-six percent of all Stanley Cups belong to Montreal, which five-peated from 1956 to 1960 and four-peated in the late '70s, winning six more championships between those runs. Johnson will get there if he keeps this up, but he's not there yet.
New York Yankees, 1923-1964; 1996-2003
Yes: Yankees haters claimed they won by buying titles — starting with the purchase of Babe Ruth. Haters of Hendrick Motorsports and Johnson cite Chad Knaus' suspensions in 2006 and '07 and call them cheaters. In reality, both teams just do what all the rest also try to do, only better.
No: The players, owners and stadiums all changed, but the Yankees stayed dominant. Johnson has enjoyed consistency — the same crew chief, many of the same crew members and the same owner.
Green Bay Packers, 1929-1931
Yes: After just eight years in the NFL, they became the first team to win three consecutive championships, before the era of the Super Bowl. Johnson hasn't been around long, either; this is his seventh full season in the Cup series.
No: Green Bay became "Titletown" long before the NFL and AFL merger. Johnson, meanwhile, won his three crowns in an era when technology and sophisticated driver development have made the competition tougher than ever.