The NBA might be a global game now, but nearly every team is located in the continental US states. Some states have their team, some have more than one, and some have none at all.
Which state has the most NBA teams? The US state of California has the most NBA teams in one state, with a total of four: the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, and the Sacramento Kings. The 4 franchises are located in 3 cities of California. Interestingly, while all 4 franchises have called California home for at least 30 years, none of them were founded in the state of California, and all relocated to the state at one point in their respective histories.
Are the NBA teams in California successful?
When a state has 4 teams, it’s bound to be a mixed bag. All 4 teams range in terms of their success: historical success, recent success, and current/future success. The Los Angeles Lakers may be the most well-known Californian NBA franchise, and arguably the most well-known NBA franchise in the world. Founded in Minneapolis Minnesota (hence the Lakers name), they have had a rich history filled with superstars (players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant, among others) and championships (17, tied for the most in NBA history). Their current team features LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, a trio of future Hall of Famers; however, poor management of the team and aging stars sees them currently towards the bottom of the league with a bleak future ahead.
The Golden State Warriors are located in San Francisco, but are named after the state’s nickname. Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Warriors have also had a rich history, with players like Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry, but nothing quite lives up to the dominance the Warriors currently display over the league. Led by revolutionary superstar Steph Curry, a strong cast of specialist teammates and a well-run front office, the Warriors have catapulted to the top of the NBA with 4 championships in the last 8 years, including the most recent championship. Now, the reigning champions look to capitalize on their current success before they may have to navigate a somewhat uncertain future. But there is no doubt about it: the Warriors have been the most successful NBA franchise of the previous decade, and off the court, they now can say that they are the most valuable NBA franchise as well.
The Los Angeles Clippers have long paled compared to the Lakers, with whom they share a stadium. The Clippers have their roots in Buffalo, New York, before making their way to California, playing a few years in San Diego before settling in Los Angeles. The Clippers have struggled throughout their franchise, with no titles to their name. However, the previous decade has brought hope to the franchise, with a string of stars, strong teams, and entertaining basketball. Their improvements pair well with the Lakers’ struggles in the previous decade, as the Clippers may for the first time in their history hold the upper hand. But they aspire for something bigger: a championship. Question is, can Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and zealous owner Steve Ballmer take them over the edge?
The Sacramento Kings are similar yet different to the Clippers in certain regards. The Kings won 2 championships in the mid-1900s (they in fact are the oldest NBA franchise), when they were still the Rochester Royals playing in New York, but they have followed that up with just about nothing. Apart from an exciting stint in the early 2000s, the Kings have been dreadful, with the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major professional sports leagues in North America. The Kings could potentially look upwards in the next few years, but their long history has been filled with disappointments and poor performance at all levels of the organization.
Why does California have the most NBA teams?
California is a big state: they are the second-biggest state in terms of geographical size, and have the largest state population in the US (an astounding 10 million more approximately than 2nd-place Texas). With such a big population, that means that the state has a big market for sports teams. All 3 Californian cities occupied by NBA franchises (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento) all rank in the top 20 of biggest media markets in the US. This trend also applies to other states with big populations and major media markets: New York (2 teams), Florida (2 teams), and Texas (3 teams). Most states, 29 to be precise, don’t even have a single NBA team.
Does the NBA have plans to add new teams?
As of now, the NBA has no immediate plans to expand the league and add new teams. However, current NBA commissioner Adam Silver does believe that expansion is due in the near future, with outside interest growing significantly as the league has seen great financial success in recent years. However, when exactly that would happen, and how many teams would be added is something that is still unknown.
Location of new teams may be the most intriguing question regarding expansion. Seattle, for example, had their own franchise, the Supersonics, before they were moved to Oklahoma City and rebranded as the Thunder. Seattle, despite being a major US market, is yet to get a new team; they are believed to be frontrunners for any sort of expansion deal. Figures inside the NBA have floated the idea of new locations: Las Vegas has been one city, endorsed by LeBron James himself, while the NBA has considered crossing the border and launch a franchise in Mexico City, Mexico (on the other side, Canada already has a franchise, the Toronto Raptors).
California residents have no shortage of NBA teams to choose from. Ranging from the world-famous to the world dominant, to the overshadowed aspirants and the “black sheep,” California really has varied options when it comes to the NBA franchises that call the state home.