By News Team
Last Updated: 28th July 2020
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
|Year||Winning team||Result||Losing team|
|2019||Toronto Raptors||4-2||Golden State Warriors|
|2018||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2017||Golden State Warriors||4-1||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2016||Cleveland Cavaliers||4-3||Golden State Warriors|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||4-2||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2014||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||Miami Heat|
|2013||Miami Heat||4-3||San Antonio Spurs|
|2012||Miami Heat||4-1||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2011||Dallas Mavericks||4-2||Miami Heat|
|2010||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Boston Celtics|
|2009||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Orlando Magic|
|2008||Boston Celtics||4-2||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2007||San Antonio Spurs||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2006||Miami Heat||4-2||Dallas Mavericks|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|2004||Detroit Pistons||4-1||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs||4-2||New Jersey Nets|
|2002||Los Angeles Lakers||4-0||New Jersey Nets|
|2001||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Philadelphia 76ers|
|2000||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Indiana Pacers|
|1999||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1998||Chicago Bulls||4-2||Utah Jazz|
|1997||Chicago Bulls||4-2||Utah Jazz|
|1996||Chicago Bulls||4-2||Seattle SuperSonics|
|1995||Houston Rockets||4-0||Orlando Magic|
|1994||Houston Rockets||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1993||Chicago Bulls||4-2||Phoenix Suns|
|1992||Chicago Bulls||4-2||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1991||Chicago Bulls||4-1||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1990||Detroit Pistons||4-1||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1989||Detroit Pistons||4-0||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1988||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|1987||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1986||Boston Celtics||4-2||Houston Rockets|
|1985||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1984||Boston Celtics||4-3||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1983||Philadelphia 76ers||4-0||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1982||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1981||Boston Celtics||4-2||Houston Rockets|
|1980||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1979||Seattle SuperSonics||4-1||Washington Bullets|
|1978||Washington Bullets||4-3||Seattle SuperSonics|
|1977||Portland Trail Blazers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1976||Boston Celtics||4-2||Phoenix Suns|
|1975||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Washington Bullets|
|1974||Boston Celtics||4-3||Milwaukee Bucks|
|1973||New York Knicks||4-1||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1972||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1971||Milwaukee Bucks||4-0||Baltimore Bullets|
|1970||New York Knicks||4-3||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1969||Boston Celtics||4-3||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1968||Boston Celtics||4-2||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1967||Philadelphia 76ers||4-2||San Francisco Warriors|
|1966||Boston Celtics||4-3||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1965||Boston Celtics||4-1||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1964||Boston Celtics||4-1||San Francisco Warriors|
|1963||Boston Celtics||4-2||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1962||Boston Celtics||4-3||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1961||Boston Celtics||4-1||St. Louis Hawks|
|1960||Boston Celtics||4-3||St. Louis Hawks|
|1959||Boston Celtics||4-0||Minneapolis Lakers|
|1958||St. Louis Hawks||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1957||Boston Celtics||4-3||St. Louis Hawks|
|1956||Philadelphia Warriors||4-1||Fort Wayne Pistons|
|1955||Syracuse Nationals||4-3||Fort Wayne Pistons|
|1954||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||Syracuse Nationals|
|1953||Minneapolis Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1952||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1951||Rochester Royals||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1950||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Syracuse Nationals|
|1949||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Washington Capitols|
|1948||Baltimore Bullets||4-2||Philadelphia Warriors|
|1947||Philadelphia Warriors||4-1||Chicago Stags|