California is home to some of the greatest basketball NBA fans have ever witnessed. In the NBA, the current California franchises amass a whopping 24 combined championships. California has changed the NBA more than any other state.
How many NBA teams are in California? There are currently four NBA franchises in California. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, and the Sacramento Kings.
The Los Angeles Lakers have defined what it means to be a successful NBA franchise. Of California’s unrivaled twenty four titles, the Lakes account for nearly 71% of them. The Clippers organization is currently trying to redeem its many failures of the past in the 2021 NBA playoffs, while the Golden State Warriors, fell one game short of making the playoffs in this year’s play-in tournament. As for the Sacramento Kings… well, the Kings have been fighting to gain NBA respectability for what seems like decades. The battle for NBA superiority in California not only captivates NBA fans, but it’s also what drives these organizations each day.
What organization was formed first in California?
The 1949-50 NBA season was home to a new level of professional basketball. The National Basketball Association’s first season would be unrecognizable to NBA fans today. With three divisions and 17 NBA teams, it was just the beginning of something special. In its infancy, the NBA had no team based in California. In that first season the Lakers, Royals, and Warriors were established in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rochester, New York, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania respectively. Unlike the Rochester Royals who took three relocations and twenty-five seasons before they finally found California, The Lakers made their way to California in the 1960-61 season. While the Philadelphia Warriors and Minneapolis Lakers had racked up championships already, the Lakers’ arrival was the true beginning of California basketball in the NBA. It was just two seasons later that the second NBA organization relocated to California. The Philadelphia Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962. Today, the Warriors remain in the same Bay area, but the organization decided to change their geographic name to Golden State. The 1968 offseason was a special one for California in the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain, the NBA’s most dynamic scorer, signed with the LA Lakers for the upcoming season. He, alongside Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, formed a superteam in California. They would go on to reach the finals in the next two seasons, and finally win the title four seasons after the signing of Wilt Chamberlain. This was the first championship that actually occurred in California. In 1970-71, the Buffalo Braves were introduced in the NBA. They relocated to San Diego in 1978, becoming the third NBA team in California, changing their name to Clippers. In 1984 they moved to LA and kept the name Clippers. The next year, the Kansas City Kings relocated to Sacramento, forming the Sacramento Kings.
Did any NBA franchises move to California?
All NBA teams that are currently in California moved at one point. The Lakers started out in Minneapolis, the Warriors in Philadelphia, the Kings in Rochester, and the Clippers in Buffalo. The NBA is prone to change and California is an amazing example of this. Today, making up more than 13% of the entire NBA, we reflect on the past with zero teams in California. The team to relocate the most before becoming an NBA franchise in California is the Sacramento Kings, who became the fourth NBA team in California, in 1985. The Kings relocated a total of three times. The Clippers relocated a total of two times. The Lakers and Warriors relocated once. It is no coincidence that the NBA teams to relocate to California the fastest have the most championships. The Lakers were the first to relocate, and they have gained twelve NBA titles since doing so. The Warriors, second to relocate to California, won four championships in California since relocation. The Clippers and Kings, who relocated over twenty years after the Lakers and Warriors, are still searching for their first title post-relocation. This shows the impact living in California can have on winning. Reasons for this can spur from being a free agent destination, and a state with basketball roots. Examples of this include Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James to the Lakers in free agency. The Warriors have acquired Kevin Durant in the infamous 2016 free agency, and Kawhi Leonard recently headed to the LA Clippers. California produces many of the most talented prospects each NBA draft, and this has to be partially credited to the impact the NBA teams that have relocated to California have on aspiring young hoopers today.
Did NBA teams in California have different names in the past?
Most California teams changed their names. The Lakers never changed their name despite relocation. They kept the name of the Lakers when moving to LA even though it applied specifically to Minneapolis. The Warriors have always been the Warriors, but they did change their geographical name while remaining in the Bay area. After moving to San Francisco, the Warriors changed their geographical name to Golden State and remained in the same location. The Kings have changed their team name a couple of times. From the Royals to the Omaha Kings, to just the Kings which remain their team name to this day. As for the Clippers, they joined the NBA with the team name Braves, which was later changed to Clippers when they moved to San Diego. They decided to keep the team name after relocation to LA.
The NBA has four teams in California today, but it was not always this way. It took thirty-five years for the NBA to display these four organizations in California; The Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, and Kings. The impact California basketball has on the NBA is undeniable. It is this state that helps the NBA’s product stand out to so many people across the globe. Despite many name changes and relocations, the NBA is grateful for the impact California basketball has on its league.