Link to the first installment, which includes an explanation of what’s going on here.
Moscow is a strange duck. It has many older but recognizable features like the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Seven Sisters, as well as cultural touchstones like the Kremlin and Red Square. This echoes the robust history of the original ABA San Antonio Spurs and its unique and irreplaceable characters like George “Iceman” Gervin. But the city’s actual skyline is dominated, in particular, by a cluster of modern towers that stand apart from the historic underbelly. The towers match the exploits of the Spurs in the era of Tim Duncan, the best pure power forward of all time, and his five NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). Remarkably, the team came within one rebound and/or layup from snagging the 2013 title as well. The recent history has been impressive for Moscow’s image and the Spurs, which is the most successful NBA franchise not named the Celtics, Lakers, or Bulls.
No, this selection is not meant to suggest that Gregg Popovich is or ever was a communist.
Since the early days of the Bundesliga, German soccer titan Bayern Munich has dominated its country’s athletic landscape. It has won 23 of the 51 German titles, including five of the past ten, and has been runner up an additional 10 times. In other words, Bayern has reached the Bundesliga final essentially 60% of the time. The club has also won five Euro Cup/Champions League titles, which is tied for third all time, while reaching the finals ten times, and has also hoisted trophies in the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup, Intercontinental Cup (twice) and FIFA Club World Cup.
Juventus has enjoyed similar success in Italy over an even longer time frame. The club has won 55 official titles, including 29 Serie A championships (a record), nine Italian Cups (a record), six Italian super cups (a record), and two International Cups, two Euro Cup/Champions League titles, three UEFA Cups (a record), two UEFA Super Cups, a European Cup Winners’ Cup, a UEFA Intertoto Cup, and a partridge in a pear tree. The team has had multiple dynasties, including in the 30’s, the 60’s-70’s, and an insane run from 1972-1986 which yielded nine league titles.
Both clubs rank in the top eight worldwide on Forbes’ list of most valuable teams, and both have featured some of their country’s most indelible stars. Bayern’s ranks are essentially a who’s who of German soccer legends, including Franz Beckenbauer, Oliver Khan, Gerd Muller, Lothar Matthaus, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, alongside current German standouts like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, and World Cup dynamo Thomas Muller and international studs like Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Many top stars have worn the Juventus jersey as well, including Fabio Cannavaro, Roberto Baggio, Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Del Piero, Michel Platini, Paolo Rossi, old timers Giampiero Boniperti and Gaetano Scirea, as well as Zinedine Zidane prior to his Real Madrid days. Recife, one of the major ocean ports of Brazil and a 2014 World Cup host city, has a well-known beach skyline that extends for a great distance along the Atlantic. The endless effect of the towers matches the consistent and limitless success enjoyed by these two European soccer giants.
Chicago is as successful in the skyline domain as the Niners have been on the gridiron. The city has long rivaled New York for the most impressive American cityscape, with iconic buildings overlooking a sweeping lake vista. The team has amassed the best Super Bowl record of any team that has reached the big game more than twice, and its history of excellence has been marked by some of the greatest players of all time, like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Ronnie Lott, who all spent their primes in the Bay Area.
Despite the longtime success of both, each has a single towering example that stands above the rest. The Willis (née Sears) tower enjoyed many moons as the world’s tallest building, while the 1989 Niners squad might be the best NFL team of all time (a sentiment which ironically make Chicago fans, and specifically fans of the 1985 Bears, bristle more than anyone else).