This Thursday sees the return of the NBA season. With a unique set-up of 22 teams competing in a jam-packed schedule, the action will be fast and furious from some of the best players on the planet.

With the restart imminent, we look at some of the best teams and players to have graced the court, as well as listing every winner since the NBA was formed.

Greatest NBA teams

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are a team with a wealth of history. Sixteen-time NBA winners and 15-time losing finalists, during their history a number of NBA greats have pulled on the Purple and Gold. Among these include Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and more recently Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

From the Showtime dynasty to the success under Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson, the Lakers have a long and proud history of bringing titles to one of the most iconic franchises in the league. They have a real chance of adding title number 17 this year as current top seed in the West.

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have the most championships of any franchise with 17, including an incredible eight in a row, and 11 in 13 seasons. Led by dominant centre Bill Russell in that era, the Celtics quickly became the dominant force in basketball.

The Celtics have won just under a quarter of all NBA titles ever. More success came in the 80s with Larry Bird heading another impressive roster, winning three more titles, before further success in 2008.

While the Celtics haven’t returned to the finals since 2010, under current head coach Brad Stevens they have a roster capable of a deep play-off run.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors had won three championships in 69 years before Steve Kerr’s current incumbents took the league by storm and won three in four years. While the franchise has a history of good teams and underdog stories, highlighted by the ‘We Believe’ Warriors of 2006/07, under Kerr they took off.

Employing an innovative, small-ball line-up and an unguardable backcourt duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the ‘Splash Bros’ powered the Californian team to an NBA best ever record of 73-9 in 2016 and three titles. Curry won back-to-back MVPs, Kevin Durant was a two-time NBA Finals MVP and the team smashed numerous other records during an incredible period.

With Durant now in Brooklyn and Thompson recovering from a serious injury, the Warriors have entered a mini-rebuilding process, but with Curry at the helm, they could be a force again as soon as next season.

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have never lost a finals series. In the 90’s they won six of them. Driven forward by the dominant Michael Jordan, the Bulls won their first title in 1991 before swiftly adding two more in thrilling finals, against the Lakers, Trail Blazers and Suns respectively. After a brief slump after Jordan retired, the Bulls were back with a vengeance when he returned.

With a line-up of All-Stars, the ‘96 Bulls set a league best record 72-10 before cleaning up on NBA Awards night, with members of the Bulls winning MVP, All-Star MVP, Finals MVP, Executive of the Year, Coach of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. The ‘96 team especially is regarded as one of the greatest to ever grace the hardwood.

The Bulls weren’t finished there, however, winning repeat championships in ‘97 and ‘98 as well to give Jordan and coach Phil Jackson six rings apiece before the team broke up. The Bulls threatened to re-emerge with the drafting of Derrick Rose, but the former MVP has struggled with injury since and the team remains in an elongated rebuilding process.

Greatest NBA players

LeBron James

A phenomenon since being drafted straight out of high school, LeBron James has been a force since entering the league. He took his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to a final in 2007, led a star-studded Miami Heat team to multiple rings and finals, before returning home to lead the Cavs to a famous comeback championship against the all-conquering Warriors.

For years, to win the East you had to go through LeBron, something very few teams managed. This year, he’s led the LA Lakers to the second-best record in the league and looks to be a force in the latter end of the play-offs once again.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant played every second of his career for the Los Angeles Lakers and achieved everything possible within the game. Five-time champion, 2 NBA Finals MVP, 2008 NBA MVP, an 18x All-Star and two numbers retired, Kobe was the driving force of the Lakers’ dominance during the first decade of the 21st century.

An incredible scorer from anywhere on the court, Bryant also won two Olympic gold medals to highlight a stellar career before retiring in 2016.

Shaquille O’Neal

Standing 7ft 1” and weighing in at 325 pounds, Shaq, as he was affectionally known, was a force for almost 20 years in the NBA. First overall pick in 1992, he won Rookie of the Year as well as four rings, 15 All-Star appearances, and is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star MVP and Finals MVP in the same year.

The larger than life character had a well-publicised feud with Bryant at the Lakers, but it didn’t stop him winning another title in Miami, before having his number retired at both the Lakers and the Heat.

Michael Jordan

The biggest name in the sport, and one that transcended more than just basketball. Jordan wasn’t the first overall pick, but in his long career won everything imaginable, from titles to Defensive Player of the Year to NBA Dunk Champion. He led the Chicago Bulls to two three-peats, in 1991-93 and 1996-98, won 5 MVP awards, and now owns the Charlotte Hornets.

He holds NBA records for career regular season scoring average and play-off scoring average and was named the 20th century’s greatest North American athlete by ESPN in a career which saw him bring basketball into the global limelight.

Every NBA champion from 1947 to 2019

YearWinning teamResultLosing team
2019Toronto Raptors4-2Golden State Warriors
2018Golden State Warriors4-0Cleveland Cavaliers
2017Golden State Warriors4-1Cleveland Cavaliers
2016Cleveland Cavaliers4-3Golden State Warriors
2015Golden State Warriors4-2Cleveland Cavaliers
2014San Antonio Spurs4-1Miami Heat
2013Miami Heat4-3San Antonio Spurs
2012Miami Heat4-1Oklahoma City Thunder
2011Dallas Mavericks4-2Miami Heat
2010Los Angeles Lakers4-3Boston Celtics
2009Los Angeles Lakers4-1Orlando Magic
2008Boston Celtics4-2Los Angeles Lakers
2007San Antonio Spurs4-0Cleveland Cavaliers
2006Miami Heat4-2Dallas Mavericks
2005San Antonio Spurs4-3Detroit Pistons
2004Detroit Pistons4-1Los Angeles Lakers
2003San Antonio Spurs4-2New Jersey Nets
2002Los Angeles Lakers4-0New Jersey Nets
2001Los Angeles Lakers4-1Philadelphia 76ers
2000Los Angeles Lakers4-2Indiana Pacers
1999San Antonio Spurs4-1New York Knicks
1998Chicago Bulls4-2Utah Jazz
1997Chicago Bulls4-2Utah Jazz
1996Chicago Bulls4-2Seattle SuperSonics
1995Houston Rockets4-0Orlando Magic
1994Houston Rockets4-3New York Knicks
1993Chicago Bulls4-2Phoenix Suns
1992Chicago Bulls4-2Portland Trail Blazers
1991Chicago Bulls4-1Los Angeles Lakers
1990Detroit Pistons4-1Portland Trail Blazers
1989Detroit Pistons4-0Los Angeles Lakers
1988Los Angeles Lakers4-3Detroit Pistons
1987Los Angeles Lakers4-2Boston Celtics
1986Boston Celtics4-2Houston Rockets
1985Los Angeles Lakers4-2Boston Celtics
1984Boston Celtics4-3Los Angeles Lakers
1983Philadelphia 76ers4-0Los Angeles Lakers
1982Los Angeles Lakers4-2Philadelphia 76ers
1981Boston Celtics4-2Houston Rockets
1980Los Angeles Lakers4-2Philadelphia 76ers
1979Seattle SuperSonics4-1Washington Bullets
1978Washington Bullets4-3Seattle SuperSonics
1977Portland Trail Blazers4-2Philadelphia 76ers
1976Boston Celtics4-2Phoenix Suns
1975Golden State Warriors4-0Washington Bullets
1974Boston Celtics4-3Milwaukee Bucks
1973New York Knicks4-1Los Angeles Lakers
1972Los Angeles Lakers4-1New York Knicks
1971Milwaukee Bucks4-0Baltimore Bullets
1970New York Knicks4-3Los Angeles Lakers
1969Boston Celtics4-3Los Angeles Lakers
1968Boston Celtics4-2Los Angeles Lakers
1967Philadelphia 76ers4-2San Francisco Warriors
1966Boston Celtics4-3Los Angeles Lakers
1965Boston Celtics4-1Los Angeles Lakers
1964Boston Celtics4-1San Francisco Warriors
1963Boston Celtics4-2Los Angeles Lakers
1962Boston Celtics4-3Los Angeles Lakers
1961Boston Celtics4-1St. Louis Hawks
1960Boston Celtics4-3St. Louis Hawks
1959Boston Celtics4-0Minneapolis Lakers
1958St. Louis Hawks4-2Boston Celtics
1957Boston Celtics4-3St. Louis Hawks
1956Philadelphia Warriors4-1Fort Wayne Pistons
1955Syracuse Nationals4-3Fort Wayne Pistons
1954Minneapolis Lakers4-3Syracuse Nationals
1953Minneapolis Lakers4-1New York Knicks
1952Minneapolis Lakers4-3New York Knicks
1951Rochester Royals4-3New York Knicks
1950Minneapolis Lakers4-2Syracuse Nationals
1949Minneapolis Lakers4-2Washington Capitols
1948Baltimore Bullets4-2Philadelphia Warriors
1947Philadelphia Warriors4-1Chicago Stags

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