The NBA Playoffs are back and the finals are set. Eleven teams remain without a championship, but which team is most likely to win?
The past nba champions is a list of the last time each NBA franchise won a championship. 11 teams remain ringless.
It’s time to move forward from the previous year. The Milwaukee Bucks won their first championship in 50 years. The Bucks were one of six teams that hadn’t won a championship since 1983 or earlier until last season. We also overlook the fact that 11 of the league’s clubs have never won a title.
As we go into the 2023-2023 season, several clubs are hoping to break the drought. Some clubs are attempting to maintain their position of supremacy. This is the last time an NBA championship was won by each of the league’s professional clubs.
Hawks of Atlanta – 1958
Before moving to Atlanta in 1968, the Hawks were a dynasty in St. Louis. The squad was one of the finest in the league in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the NBA Finals in 1957, the Hawks were defeated by the Boston Celtics in a double-overtime Game 7 thriller. The next year, though, the squad avenged themselves by defeating the Celtics in six games. In the series’ last game, Bob Pettit scored 50 points.
The Hawks have reached the Conference Finals twice since then, in 2015 and 2023. The Hawks have only progressed beyond the second round of the playoffs twice in their history.
Celtics of Boston – 2008
The Celtics made a big impact in the 2007 summer. The club featured two key players in Paul Pierce, a veteran, and Rajon Rondo, a youthful, dynamic point guard who was one of the league’s best two-way players. The club was in desperate need of stars, so they traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Pierce, Garnett, and Allen combined to help the Celtics capture their first NBA title since 1986. Despite Garnett’s outstanding performance in the Finals, Pierce was voted Finals MVP. Overall, the Celtics had a difficult playoffs, playing a record-breaking 26 postseason games.
None for the Brooklyn Nets.
In 1974 and 1976, the old New Jersey Nets were named ABA champions. The Nets, on the other hand, have never won an NBA title. The New Jersey Nets were a professional basketball team that existed from 1977 until 2012, reaching the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 under the direction of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson.
The Nets have failed to play in a Conference Final since moving to Brooklyn. The club took the Milwaukee Bucks to a seven-game series this year, but lost in the end. There’s a possibility the drought may end this season, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden leading the way.
Hornets of Charlotte – None
The Hornets or Bobcats have had a poor record in the NBA since their inception in 1988. The club has never won a conference or divisional championship. The Hornets have never competed for an NBA championship in their 33-year history.
The team’s finest year was 2000-2001, when they finished 46-36 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In the end, the Hornets were defeated by the Bucks in seven games. The club has reached the playoffs three times since that season, falling in the first round each time.
1998 Chicago Bulls
Nobody could have predicted that 23 years later, the term “the final dance” of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman would aptly describe the situation. Since Jordan won his sixth title that year, the Bulls have failed to reach the NBA Finals. The club had a dismal decade after that, but when Derrick Rose was chosen first overall in 2008, it showed potential, no pun intended.
In 2011, Rose won the youngest MVP in NBA history, and the Bulls advanced to the Conference Finals. The squad, however, was defeated by the Miami Heat. Rose suffered a career-ending knee injury the following year, and the rest is history. Since 2017, the Bulls haven’t reached the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Cleveland Cavaliers) – 2016
LeBron James’ comeback tale helped Cleveland win its first title. After winning two championships with the Miami Heat, LeBron felt compelled to return to the club that selected him and make up for his previous mistakes. The Cavaliers played one of the most memorable NBA Finals series in history, thanks to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
In seven games, the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors had won an NBA-record 73 games that year. Irving made a game-winning three-pointer in Game 7. On Andre Iguodala, LeBron had the legendary block. When the clock struck zero, fans all around the globe got chills as LeBron sat on the floor, tears in his eyes.
2011 Dallas Mavericks
The “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were in their first season in Miami. The Heat, as anticipated, advanced to the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference. Out of the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks surprised everyone by reaching the NBA Finals.
As the Mavericks defeated the Heat in six games, Dirk Nowitzki had an incredible series that won him Finals MVP. Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Kidd, all seasoned veterans, were also able to celebrate their first ring. It seems like the Mavericks just won the title yesterday, yet all four of those guys are no longer in the league.
None for the Denver Nuggets.
It’s almost astonishing that a club that has been in the league since 1976 has never been to the NBA Finals. In 2009, the club advanced to the Conference Finals, led by Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony. The club won the greatest lopsided win in NBA playoff history, a 58-point triumph against the Charlotte Hornets, in the playoffs.
For the first time since 1985, the Nuggets reached the Conference Finals, but were defeated by Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The Nuggets returned to the Conference Finals in 2023, led by future MVP Nikola Jokic. With the MVP back and a healthy Jamal Murray, the Denver Nuggets’ aspirations for a Finals appearance are as high as the mountains.
2004 Detroit Pistons
With a nucleus of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace, the Pistons were a dynasty in the mid-2000s. The Pistons reached the Eastern Conference Finals from 2003 through 2008, as well as the NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005.
The 2004 season concluded with a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Pistons’ victory against the Lakers may have aided in the split of Shaq and Kobe Bryant. After averaging 21.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and shooting 50.1 percent from the field, 47.1 percent from three-point range, and 92.9 percent from the free-throw line, Billups was named Finals MVP.
2018 Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were in the NBA Finals from 2015 through 2019, winning championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Kevin Durant’s second straight NBA Finals MVP performance preceded their most recent championship. The Warriors, led by Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, were dominating in the 2018 Finals.
To begin with, the Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were in the Finals for the fourth year in a row. This year, it wasn’t so much Golden State’s performance in the Finals that stood out, but rather their performance in the Conference Finals. The Warriors were down 3-2 to the top-seeded Houston Rockets after seven games, including a 34-point effort from Kevin Durant in Game 7. Durant averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in the Finals.
1995 Houston Rockets
Despite Michael Jordan’s late comeback effort, the Houston Rockets did not live in Jordan’s shadow as the Orlando Magic won the Eastern Conference. Jordan dominated in 1991, 1992, and 1993, according to Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets won the title in Jordan’s first year out of the league (1994).
The Rockets returned to the NBA Finals thanks to a midseason trade for Clyde Drexler, Portland’s all-time leading scorer, and defeated a youthful Shaq team to win back-to-back championships. The fight between Olajuwon and Shaq was thrilling. Shaq had a 28.0 point average, but Olajuwon had a 32.8 point average and won his second consecutive Finals MVP award.
None for the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers won the ABA championships in 1970, 1972, and 1973. The Pacers have failed to win a genuine NBA title since joining the league in 1976. The club has only made one appearance in the NBA Finals in its existence (2000). The club was a competitive team in the 1990s, but they were often defeated in the playoffs by Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
In his prime, Reggie Miller was the team’s best player. The Lakers defeated them in six games in their first trip in the Finals. The Pacers have always been so close in the past. Young Paul George, David West, Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert led the club to the Conference Finals in both 2013 and 2014. They were, however, defeated once again by another great talent in LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
None for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Since their inception as a professional team in 1970, the Clippers have been synonymous with mediocrity. While Clips supporters may bemoan the fact that they are constantly in the shadow of their neighboring Los Angeles team, the Lakers, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that they shouldn’t. In their existence, the Clippers have only won two division championships, in 2013 and 2014. The club never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs, despite having a roster that included Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.
For the first time in club history, the Clippers reached the Conference Finals in 2023. We might be talking about the club reaching the NBA Finals for the first time if Kawhi Leonard hadn’t injured his ACL. Instead, the Suns eliminated the team, and the rest is history.
The 2023 Los Angeles Lakers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California.
Winning the championship in 2023 will go down as one of the most memorable in club history. The death of Kobe Bryant in January 2023 stunned the basketball world. Bryant was a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, and his death came much too soon. It’s amazing that LeBron James was able to earn his fourth Finals MVP award this year, despite the nation being shut down by a pandemic.
This was LeBron’s first season playing with Anthony Davis. The duo was in charge of a defense that was near the top of the league. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.
None for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies were established in Vancouver and relocated to Memphis in 2002. The Grizzlies have never won a division or conference championship in their franchise history. The club is hoping to reach the NBA Finals for the first time. The club thinks that with a youthful core of Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, and Jarrett Jackson Jr., that might happen down the line.
The team’s closest appearance in the NBA Finals came in 2013. Mike Conley Jr., Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol formed a core that led a surprising run that was eventually stopped by the San Antonio Spurs. Conley was subsequently given the highest player salary in the league’s history, while Gasol was voted Defensive Player of the Year.
2013 Miami Heat
Is it really nearly a decade since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh won the Heat’s second consecutive championship? The 2013 NBA Finals was one of the most memorable Finals in NBA history. The Spurs had a 3-2 lead against the Heat at the time. Ray Allen made the famous game-tying three-pointer with the Heat down by three in the final seconds, and the Heat ultimately beat the Spurs in overtime.
LeBron James scored 37 points in Game 7 to win his second consecutive Finals MVP award. Since then, the Heat have advanced to the NBA Finals in 2023, where they were defeated by the Lakers in six games.
2023 Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks finally won their first title this summer after a 50-year wait, defeating the Suns. The Bucks came back from a 2-0 deficit in the series to win four consecutive, including Game 6. The Bucks won Game 4 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson, both members of the 1971 championship team, in attendance.
Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in Game 6 to win the series. He joined Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry, Jerry West, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James as the sixth player to achieve this feat.
None for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves have only won one division championship in their history since entering the league in 1989. To be honest, the club has been insignificant since Kevin Garnett departed in 2007, reaching the playoffs just once since 2004 (in 2018).
For Minnesotans, the 2004 NBA playoffs were a memorable experience. The Wolves defeated the Nuggets in their first-ever playoff series before defeating the Kings in a seven-game series in the second round. When the Wolves won Game 7, league MVP Kevin Garnett leapt over the scorers table, a scene that has gone down in Minnesota sports history. The Lakers, on the other hand, defeated the Timberwolves in the Conference Finals. Many think the Lakers would have lost if Sam Cassell had not been injured.
None for the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Hornets were the team’s mascot when it was established in 2002 until it was changed to the Pelicans in 2013. The club has only won one divisional championship since its inception in 2008. Chris Paul and David Wes were the team’s captains that year, and they helped the squad secure the No. 2 seed. The Spurs defeated the squad in seven games in the second round.
Paul departed for the Clippers in 2011 since then. Anthony Davis was hailed as the savior, but he was moved to the Lakers after eight years of mediocre playoff performance. Many think the club might have advanced to the Conference Finals if DeMarcus Cousins had not been injured during the 2017-2018 season.
1973 New York Knicks
Because the Knicks were one of the first NBA teams, their 1973 triumph was a genuine NBA Championship. The Knicks won championships in 1970 and 1973, led by Walt Frazier and Willis Reed. Despite having a poor scoring average, Reed’s defensive efforts earned him the title of Finals MVP.
The Knicks have reached the NBA Finals twice since then, in 1994 and 1999. The Knicks were defeated by the Rockets and Spurs, despite being led by Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. The Knicks have only won one division championship since 1999.
Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Thunder) – 1979
After the squad began the year 5-17, Lenny Wilkins was called back to lead the team in 1977. By the conclusion of the season, the club had advanced to the NBA Finals before falling to the Bullets in seven games. The club lost standout center Marvin Webster to the Knicks the next year, but the rest of the roster remained intact.
Seattle won the Conference Finals in seven games against the Suns before facing the Bullets in the Finals for the second time. Seattle took care of business this time, winning their lone title. In the backcourt, Gus Williams and Finals MVP Dennis Johnson shone. Since then, the pairing of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook has provided a nostalgic experience for older fans, although they were defeated by the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
None for the Orlando Magic.
The Magic have reached the NBA Finals twice since 1989. Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, and a youthful core of players led the Magic in 1995. The squad beat the Celtics, Bulls, and Pacers before losing in four games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets.
In 1996, the Magic reached the Conference Finals but were defeated by Jordan’s Bulls. The Magic didn’t make it back until 2009, due to a core of Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson. The Lakers beat the Magic in five games in the Finals.
The Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA championship in 1983.
The 76ers went on to win two more titles in 1955 and 1967, but their most recent was in 1983. The 76ers acquired center Moses Malone before to the season. The club dominated the regular season with 65 victories, the second-most in franchise history, thanks to a rotation that included Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones. Malone was voted MVP and predicted that the 76ers would sweep all of the playoff rounds.
That year, the 76ers only lost one game, almost confirming Malone’s assertion. Since then, the club has only made it to the NBA Finals once, in 2001, when Allen Iverson led the squad to victory. The 76ers are coming off a season in which they were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
None for the Phoenix Suns.
In a sense, the whole world was cheering for Chris Paul to win his first NBA title this season. It would have been Paul’s first ring, as well as the Suns’. The Suns were established in 1968 and have been in the NBA Finals three times, but have failed to advance each time.
In 2023, the Suns were swept by the Bucks in six games. Charles Barkley led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 1993, but they were beaten by Michael Jordan’s Bulls. The Celtics, led by future Hall of Famers Dave Cowens and John Havlicek, defeated the Suns in 1976.
1977 Portland Trail Blazers
Three times, Portland has reached the NBA Finals. The club reached the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, but were beaten by Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan, respectively, after winning the title in 1977. The Trail Blazers have gone 28 years without reaching the NBA Finals, from Clyde Drexler to Damian Lillard.
Maurice Lucas was selected from the ABA merger’s supplementary draft in 1977, and Jack Ramsey was appointed as head coach. These two changes helped the Trail Blazers finish 49-33, qualify for the playoffs, and win the championship. Their popularity grew as a result of their fan base. Starting in April, the club started an 814-game sellout run, which was regarded the longest in American sports history until 1995.
1951 Sacramento Kings
The Kings franchise has been established for almost a century, yet they only have one championship, which dates back to 1970. The Rochester Royals won their lone title by defeating the New York Knicks 4-3. The Kings have only made it to the NBA Finals once since then.
In 2002, the squad came close to winning before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers. Many fans think the Kings might have won the championship, and the argument has raged for years, even since former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was accused of sexual misconduct.
Spurs of San Antonio – 2014
The Spurs were the top team in the West in 2013 and 2014. The Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in five games the next year after failing to seal the championship with a 3-2 lead in 2013. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili each won their fourth championship. Duncan won his sixth championship with the Spurs overall.
It wasn’t Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili who stood out the most in these Finals. With 22 years and 298 days on the clock, Kawhi Leonard became the third-youngest player to ever earn Finals MVP. Despite not leading the team in scoring, Leonard provided outstanding defense against LeBron, which helped him win MVP.
Raptors of Toronto – 2019
The Raptors just needed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to win their first title in franchise history. It required a lot more than that, to be sure. It cost DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors’ all-time leading scorer and the team’s lifeblood. The Raptors beat the Warriors in the NBA finals because to Leonard’s star power, Kyle Lowry’s tenacious play, and a midseason deal for Marc Gasol.
The Warriors were without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the Finals due to injury, yet their title is without asterisks. With two players in the lineup, the Raptors were able to compete. Many would argue that the pivotal moment in these playoffs occurred in the second round, when Leonard hit a game-winning three-pointer against the 76ers in Game 7.
None for the Utah Jazz.
In the 1990s, the Jazz were victims of Michael Jordan’s brilliance as the Trail Blazers. The Jazz reached the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, hoping to win the championship. The Jazz would have won at least one championship in the modern era if they had a Hall of Fame combo in John Stockton and Karl Malone.
The Bulls, on the other hand, defeated the Jazz both years. There were several pivotal moments in the series, but none more so than Jordan’s game-winning goal against Byron Russell. The Jazz haven’t been to the Conference Finals since 1998, although they were the top seed last season. There is optimism for the future with Donovan MitwasRudy Gobert guiding the way.
The Washington Wizards were founded in 1978.
Gilbert Arenas, John Wall, and Bradley Beal will go down in Wizards history as likeable players, but none of them were able to lead the team to the Conference Finals. You have to go all the way back to 1978, when the Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in a legendary seven-game series.
Wes Unseld, a power forward for the Bullets, was voted MVP despite never leading the club in scoring. With that said, he was a good rebounder who kept Marvin Webster and Jack Sikma off the court. In a 105-99 thriller, Charles Johnson and Robert Dandridge both scored 19 points.
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