NBA: Most exclusive club when it comes to winning titles

The NBA could crown a first-time champion this year.

Or, at the very least, a team that hasn’t won a title in nearly two decades.

Of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs, the most recent to win a championship is the Chicago Bulls, who captured the last of their six Michael Jordan-era banners in 1998.

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are the only other teams with multiple championships. The Rockets won back-to-back titles in 1994-95 while the Warriors are 40 years removed from their last title. Their only other championship in the NBA era that began in 1950 was a long-forgotten crown in 1956, when they were in Philadelphia.

There are two franchises that won their only championship so long ago, well, one had a different nickname (the Washington Wizards were the Bullets when they took the 1978 title) and another was in a different city (the 1958 St. Louis Hawks, who didn’t move to Atlanta until a decade later). At least they’ve got a title.

The Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies have never won it all.

This is something new for the NBA, which has the most exclusive group of champions among the four major North American sports leagues.

A look at how they stack up when it comes to sharing the championship wealth:


Since its founding in 1950, two franchises — the Boston Celtics, with 17 titles, and the Lakers, with 15 combined between Los Angeles and previous home Minneapolis — have hoarded nearly half the championships.

Only eight other teams have won more than one title, the fewest of any league. That means just 10 teams have captured 58 of the 65 titles in the league’s history.

Seven of the NBA’s 30 franchises have never even reached the finals, also the most of any league.


Football is clearly the most parity-driven sport, with 22 of 32 franchises winning titles going back to 1950. (This includes winners of the NFL title game up to the 1965 season, and Super Bowl champions since then.)

The Green Bay Packers have the most titles during that time frame with seven. In all, 16 franchises have won multiple titles.

Most telling, only two teams (Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans) have never been to an NFL title game or Super Bowl.


Twenty of 30 baseball franchises have won World Series titles since 1950, led by the New York Yankees with 15. The Los Angeles (previously Brooklyn) Dodgers are next with six, and a total of 16 teams have won multiple titles during this span.

Only two clubs — Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos– have never reached the World Series. The Chicago Cubs haven’t been since 1945.


Eighteen of the league’s 30 franchises have won a Stanley Cup, with the Montreal Canadiens the only double-digit winner (18 titles) since 1950. Twelve teams have won multiple championships.

Six other teams have at least made it as far as the finals. Six active franchises have never played for the Stanley Cup, the oldest being the Arizona Coyotes, who entered the league in 1979 as the original Winnipeg Jets.


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