There are currently 30 teams in the NBA. Each team has a fanbase hungry each season to see their team win the NBA championship and throw a parade in their city. Each year, exactly one team gets to emerge from the season as the NBA champions. If you are lucky enough to see your team winning 2 titles in your lifetime you should consider yourself lucky.
Which NBA team has the most championship wins? Since the first official NBA Championship was contested in the 1946-47 season, two NBA teams have won 17 titles each. These Franchises are the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers (formerly the Minneapolis Lakers). The Lakers first NBA Championship came in 1949 and their latest in 2020. The Celtics first won in 1957, with their latest NBA Championship coming in 2008. The Lakers and Celtics have faced each other directly in the NBA Finals a record 12 times, with the Celtics winning 9 times.
Since the Philadelphia Warriors won the inaugural NBA Championship in 1947, there have been 76 NBA Champions crowned. 20 different NBA Franchises have won the NBA title, below we have a look at some of the more significant winners.
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List of NBA Championships by Franchise (current name listed)
|NBA Team||NBA Championships Won|
|Los Angeles Lakers||17|
|Golden State Warriors||7|
|San Antonio Spurs||5|
|New York Knicks||2|
|Portland Trail Blazers||1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1|
Los Angeles Lakers NBA Championships
The Los Angeles Lakers have won the joint most NBA Championships in history. However they didn’t win them all while based in LA. While their East Coast rivals the Celtics have won all 17 of their titles while based in Boston, the Lakers won their first 5 titles before moving to LA in 1960.
The Minneapolis Lakers, led by George Michan were the first NBA Dynasty, winning 5 titles between 1949 and 1954. It would not be until 1972 that Lakers would bring a title home to LA. The 1972 Lakers featured Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Pat Riley and the win over the New York Knicks was a long time coming, after several Finals defeats to Bill Russell‘s Celtics.
Magic Johnson would team up with Kareem Abdul Jabaar in the 80’s as the Lakers won 5 more titles. Kobe & Shaq and then just Kobe would lead the Lakers to 5 more titles after the turn of the century. Before Lebron James and Anthony Davis arrived in town to claim the franchises 17th title which put them level with the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers have had a long rivalry with the Celtics. From the Russell dynasty in the 60’s to the Magic vs Bird Rivalry in the 1980’s – however they have not fared well when the two great franchises have met in the NBA Finals. The Celtics have won 9 of the 12 meetings.
|NBA Finals Head to Heads: Lakers vs Celtics|
|1959 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–0|
|1962 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–3|
|1963 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–2|
|1965 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–1|
|1966 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–3|
|1968 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–2|
|1969 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–3|
|1984 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–3|
|1985 NBA Finals: Lakers won, 4–2|
|1987 NBA Finals: Lakers won, 4–2|
|2008 NBA Finals: Celtics won, 4–2|
|2010 NBA Finals: Lakers won, 4–3|
Boston Celtics NBA Championships
In almost a mirror image of the Lakers Dynasty based in West Coast LA, the East Coast Boston Celtics have matched them title for title throughout the history of the NBA. Both Franchises are tied on 17 NBA Championships east, the most in NBA history. Between them they have won 44% of the 76 NBA Championships available.
The Celtics won their first NBA Championship in 1957, Bill Russell’s rookie season. Russell would lead the Celtics to 11 NBA Championships before retiring in 1969, just 13 years later.
Tom Heinsohn would coach the Celtics to 2 more titles in ‘74 and ‘76 featuring players like Dave Cowens, John Havlicek and Jo Jo White. Before Larry Bird arrived in the 80’s adding 3 more titles and taking the Celtics total to 16.
It was the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the established scoring punch of Paul Pierce that would inspire the Celtics to their most recent title in 2008, defeating the Lakers in the NBA Finals. This would prove to be the only NBA Championship the group would win after losing to the Kobe led Lakers in 2010.
The Celtics managed to get back to the NBA Finals in 2022 behind the 1,2 punch of Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown. A return trip is on the cards for 2023 and with Lebron and Davis leading a rebooted Lakers squad in a diminished West, we may get the 13th installment of Lakers vs Celtics for the NBA Championship before this season ends.
Golden State Warriors NBA Championships
The Warriors have won the 3rd most NBA Championships. The Warriors have won 7 NBA Championships in total, including the inaugural 1947 title while based in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Warriors also won the title in 1956 before moving to San Francisco and eventually becoming the Golden State Warriors.
Rick Barry would win his only NBA Championship in 1974 with the Golden State Warriors putting the Franchise on 3 total for the next 40 years.
Then in 2015 Steph Curry exploded onto the scene transforming the Franchise and winning 4 NBA titles boosting them to 7 total and grabbing the 3rd spot for most NBA Championships in history.
Chicago Bulls NBA Championships
The Chicago Bulls have won 6 NBA Championships. The 4th most in NBA History. Rather than their titles sprawling out since the start of the NBA, the Bulls have only won titles in 1 decade. The 90’s. After losing to eventual Champions Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990, the Bulls finally made it to the NBA Finals in 1991. They would win the title and repeat the feat in 1992 and 1993 before Michael Jordan retired to play Baseball.
On Jordan’s full return for the 1995-96 season they would again resume winning ways. With his ever-present sidekick Scottie Pippen in tow, Jordan would rampage through the league winning another 3 titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998 before retiring again.
Since Jordan left in 1998 the Bulls haven’t come close to winning another NBA title.
San Antonio Spurs NBA Championships
The San Antonio Spurs came over from the ABA in the 1976 merger. Having failed to win a title in the ABA the trend would continue in the NBA until they had the opportunity to draft a 4th year center from Wake Forest. Taking Power Forward Tim Duncan with the first pick in the 1997 NBA Draft their fortunes would change. Pairing him with center David Robinson to form a formidable front court partnership the San Antonio Spurs would win their first NBA Championship in 1999. What would follow was 2 decades of dominance. While they never managed to win even back to back titles the Spurs would win 5 titles before Duncan retired in 2016. Their most recent came in 2014 when they destroyed Lebron James’ Miami Heat side in a repeat of the previous year’s Finals that had gone the other way.
Led by Coach Greg Popovich and supported by players like Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker the Tim Duncan Spurs won 5 NBA Championships, the 5th most in history.
NBA Championship winners who have changed names
The complex system of NBA franchises changing their names or location and keeping their franchise records often leads to some confusion. Below is a list of NBA Championship winners who no longer operate under the same name.
- Philadelphia Warriors 1947 & 1956
- Baltimore Bullets 1948
- Minneapolis Lakers 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 & 1954
- Rochester Royals 1951
- Syracuse Nationals 1955
- St Louis Hawks 1958
- Washington Bullets 1978
- Seattle Supersonics 1979
Let’s take that list from the top and explain who each NBA Franchise are now.
The Philadelphia Warriors won 2 titles before moving to San Francisco and becoming the Golden State Warriors. They have now won 7 titles in total.
The Baltimore Bullets won their only title in 1948. Despite the later emergence of the Washington Bullets, they are not in fact the same franchise. The title winning Baltimore Bullets ceased to exist on November 27 1954, the Bullets became the last NBA franchise to fold.
The 5 title winning Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and became the 17 title winning LA Lakers.
The Rochester Royals won their only title in 1951. The team relocated to the larger market of Cincinnati in 1957, becoming the Cincinnati Royals. In 1972, they relocated again, to Kansas City, Missouri, becoming the Kansas City–Omaha Kings splitting home games between Kansas City and Omaha, Nebraska. The nickname was changed so as not to clash with baseball’s Kansas City Royals. After just three seasons, the team picked a home and became the Kansas City Kings. This was short-lived and by 1985 they had moved to Sacramento. Becoming the current Sacramento Kings. They have still not won a second title.
The Syracuse Nationals won the NBA Championship in1955. After the departure of the Warriors from Philadelphia the Nationals moved into the large market city in 1963. They changed their name to the 76ers in honor of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 that took place in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia 76ers have now won 3 NBA titles.
The St Louis Hawks won an NBA Championship in1958 before moving to Atlanta in 1968 and becoming the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have yet to win a title in Atlanta.
The Washington Bullets won their only NBA title in 1978. They had initially been called the Chicago Packers but moved location and became the Baltimore Bullets between 1963 and 1973, but not the original Baltimore Bullets (as discussed above). In 1973, the team moved again to Washington DC and changed its name to the Capital Bullets, then the following season to Washington Bullets. They would win their only title under this moniker before finally, in 1997, they rebranding themselves as the Washington Wizards.
The Seattle Supersonics won their only NBA Championship in 1979. After drafting Kevin Durant in 2007 they would soon leave Seattle and become the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2008-2009 season. They remain the OKC Thunder to this day.
Active NBA Franchises who have not won an NBA Championship (yet)
The below is a list of active NBA teams that have never won an NBA title as of 2022.
|Team||First Year in NBA||Best Finish In History|
|Indiana Pacers||1967||NBA Finals Runner Up|
|Brooklyn Nets||1967||NBA Finals Runner Up|
|Denver Nuggets||1967||Western Conference Finals Runner Up|
|Phoenix Suns||1968||NBA FInals Runner Up|
|Utah Jazz||1974||NBA FInals Runner Up|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||1989||Western Conference Finals Runner Up|
|Orlando Magic||1989||NBA Finals Runner Up|
|New Orleans Pelicans||2002*||Playoffs|
*Originally The Hornets, changed name to Pelicans in 2013 when Hornets returned to Charlotte