NBA Championships by team: Teams with most titles

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors: The championship rin
Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors: The championship ring
Amulya Shekhar

The NBA is currently in full flow during its 72nd season of existence. Talent levels around the league have probably never been higher, although a lot of people would question the distribution of elite players around the league and whether the current roster construction of the best teams is in line with what hurdles players of yesteryear had to face.

Nevertheless, the 82-game grind that the regular season is establishes which teams will be the biggest contenders during the playoffs with a pretty high degree of accuracy, and with over a third of the season finished, there are a lot of fresh questions about whether the Warriors are really de facto going to win it all in a few months, securing their dynastic status for good.

As a franchise, the Warriors have won 6 championships through their history in the league. How many teams have more trophies than them? Read on to find out:

Teams with 1 championship

The Rochester Royals (1950-51), St. Louis Hawks (1957-58), Milwaukee Bucks (1970-71), Portland Trail Blazers(1976-77), Washington Bullets (1977-78), Seattle SuperSonics (1978-79), Dallas Mavericks (2010-11) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-16) are the only teams to have won one NBA championship each.

The Royals have since moved to Sacramento and rebranded as the Kings, the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta, the Bullets are now the Wizards and the Sonics were moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City as the franchise now known as the Thunder (the NBA credits Sonics history to the Thunder, but the franchise itself does not acknowledge it as yet).

With the passage of time and the addition of teams, it has become easier for older franchises to post a good record due to tanking and the presence of expansion teams.

2- Houston Rockets and New York Knicks

The Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks are the only franchises to have won NBA championships twice in their franchise history. The Knicks are the oldest franchise in the NBA along with the Celtics, having never moved or rebranded from their base in Madison Square Garden.

Although their history in the past 20 years is filled with disappointing rosters and let-downs from star free agent signings, the Knicks were once the superteam of the NBA. Possessing talent like Willis Reed, Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier, the Knicks had a 4-year dynastic run when they made the Finals thrice and won the title twice (1971-72, 1973-74).

The Rockets had their best postseason record under franchise GOAT Hakeem Olajuwon, who won the MVP-DPOY double in the 1993-94 season and led them to wins over the Knicks in 7 games during the 1994 NBA Finals. They returned to the same stage the following season to sweep Penny and Shaq's Orlando Magic team in 1995.

3 - Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat

The Sixers, the Pistons and the Heat are the only 3 franchises to have won NBA titles thrice in the history of their franchises.

The Sixers won their first championship as the Syracuse Nationals in 1955, before they moved to Philadelphia in the wake of the departure of the Warriors' franchise to San Francisco. After spending nearly all of Wilt's prime on teams that couldn't beat the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, the Sixers finally mustered enough Hall of Famers to take on and beat their nemesis in the summer of '67. The Sixers' third title came in '83 when they swept the Lakers in the Finals with a team spearheaded by Finals MVP Moses Malone and Dr. J.

The Pistons came to power for the first time in the NBA in the years that followed Philly's championship. Lead by one of the greatest point guards of all time in Isiah Thomas, the Bad Boy Pistons made it to 3 straight NBA Finals from 88 to 90, winning the latter two series handily. Their 3rd title was one of the biggest upsets in the modern NBA as their team of scrappy, defensive players overran the star-studded Kobe-Shaq Lakers 4-1 in the 2004 NBA Finals.

The Heat's trio of titles is pretty easily the toughest achievement of the 3. The only expansion franchise to have won a title, the Heat were also contenders for a while during the 90s before a year-long tank led to adding Dwyane Wade to the roster in 2003. Wade combined with Shaq and a team of battle-hardened veterans to win the NBA championship over the Mavericks 4-2 in 2006, before teaming up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh to win 2 titles in 4 championship appearances from 2011 to 2014.

5- San Antonio Spurs

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The story of the San Antonio Spurs' postseason success is basically the tale of the bromance between the humblest superstar the league has ever seen and possibly the greatest coach in NBA history. The Spurs floundered in the season prior to drafting Duncan, losing Robinson to injury and finishing with the 3rd worst record in the league.

Duncan's acquisition, however, set them on the fast track for postseason success. Timmy was the last big man to make it to the All-NBA First Team in his very first NBA season, and he led the Spurs past the Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals and was named Finals MVP.

The Spurs' other titles came in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014, with Duncan playing the pivotal two-way superstar role and the rest of the team jelling around him in each of those playoffs.

6 - Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

The Bulls are quite possibly the single most popular American sports franchise all through the world. Partly because the greatest to ever lace em up played for them, and partly because he was the Finals MVP in all 6 of the Bulls' title wins. The Bulls, Nike brand and to a large extent, Gatorade, owe their commercial success and popularity to Michael Jordan.

The Golden State Warriors were the laughing stock of the league for nearly 20 years after Run TMC split up, barring the brief 'We Believe' playoff run in 2007. It was because of Steph Curry's rise that they are now the gold standard for any sports team across the spectrum of team sports worldwide, as the Warriors stand overwhelming favourites in any game they play. Having 4 All Stars lining up for them in the prime of their career has put them several tiers above the rest of the league.

16 - Los Angeles Lakers

Can Bron pull off the impossible and bring another championship to the Lakers?
Can Bron pull off the impossible and bring another championship to the Lakers?

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only basketball team other than the Chicago Bulls to stand a chance of being known by a nobody in Somalia. In terms of sustained success through the decades and the ability to ride bumpy rebuilds through quickly, no NBA franchise has been able to match the Lakers.

Initially based in Minneapolis, the Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1961 and promptly became one of the best teams in the league after winning 5 titles in the 40s and 50s with George Mikan. Their best period in history was during the '80s, when they made 9 NBA Finals, winning 5 of those trophies with the likes of Big Game James Worthy, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar headlining their successes.

The likes of Kobe and Shaq were able to bring 5 more championships to Beverly Hills in the noughties.

17 - Boston Celtics

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Not only are the Celtics the most successful NBA franchise with 17 championships through 72 seasons, they also hold the record for most consecutive championships for any franchise in the big 4 American leagues. Their vice-like grip over the NBA championship during the Bill Russell years in the late 50s and 60s was akin to Lyon's 7 straight Ligue 1 titles in the noughties, the same kind of dominance as Bayern Munich have enjoyed over the Bundesliga through the last 6 seasons (though they're floundering right now).

The Celtics' championship successes aren't limited to the 50s and 60s either. They won 3 titles each in the 70s and the 80s, and were last champions of the league in 2008. Now represented by a young, exciting core of players due to hit their basketball primes, the Celtics will once again be a force to be reckoned with across the league for years to come.

Edited by Sai Krishna


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