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The National Basketball Association is the highest professional league of competitive basketball in The United States and Canada. They've been around in some fashion since 1946. Seasons are usually 82 games in length, with some rare exceptions.note 


The NBA has 30 teams split into two conferences (Eastern and Western); there has been talk of expanding to 32 teams as of December 2020note , but NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stated that it's not a priority issue as of current times. Each 15-team conference has three five-team divisions. Each conference sends 8 teams to the playoffs; since the 2015–16 season, seeding in the playoffs has been based purely on record, with no automatic berths for division winners at all. So a division winner could be as low as an 8th seed... or (theoretically) even miss the playoffs entirely. This makes the NBA the first major U.S. professional league to eliminate automatic playoff berths for division winners. All playoff games are best-of-seven series. However, as of 2020 (yes, it relates to the COVID-19 Pandemic), the NBA has also implemented the play-in tournament, which first was a winner-takes all spot for the 8th and 9th seeds of a conference to compete for the final playoff spot before it got modified for the 2020-21 season onward. The current play-in tournament now allows for both the 7th seed and the 10th seed to compete for the final two seeds in each conference, though the 7th and 8th seeds get two chances for a playoff spot, while the 9th and 10th seeds need to win twice to earn a spot above the loser of the above spot; once against the 9/10th spot, and again over the 7th/8th seed team to become the newest 8th seed of the conference.


The primary route from which new players enter the league is the NBA Draft, held each June. Players come mostly from college basketball, though increasingly overseas players and even players from other North American leagues are also chosen, with high schoolers also previously being a source of interest. The draft consists of 2 rounds, the shortest (by far) of any of the major sports.note  However, the shortened rounds can be considered justified due to basketball not needing as many players on the court as other sports leagues would, with 15 players previously being the maximum amount of players on a roster at once before the addition of two-way contracts. Teams that miss the playoffs are entered into a weighted draft lottery, which determines the first 4 picks. Under the current system, introduced in 2019, the three teams with the worst records get equal chances of getting the first pick, with the chances for other teams decreasing as their records improve. Subsequently, players scouted to go as early draft picks are said to be "lottery picks" (a good thing), while teams likely to miss the playoffs are said to be "lottery bound" (a bad thing, except that they're likely to get better players in the draft to help improve themselves, which is good for competitive balance). The remaining first round picks are awarded in inverse order of record, so the team with the best regular season record gets the 30th and last pick in the first round. The second round is purely inverse record.

The other major route for players to get to the NBA is through the league-run NBA G League (corporately rebranded by Gatorade from the NBA Development League starting in 2017–18). It has 28 teams in the 2019–20 season, with two more on the way, one being from Mexico City and the other being a special team for helping develop younger players there. Players are usually undrafted free agents or players previously cut from NBA teams. Such players are usually role players or backups. The G League fills the same role that the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association filled, and the rules for signing players from the G League to 10-day contracts (as fill-ins; they can be renewed once, after which the NBA team must either sign the player for the rest of the season or release them) are near-identical. The big difference is the G League is owned by the NBA, and teams can actually assign up players with less than three years experience to their affiliated G League team outright. Almost all players in the G League are under contract to the league, not their individual team, regardless of NBA affiliation. (Before the 2017–18 season, this was the case for all D-League players.) This means that any NBA team can call up any G League player... with one major exception. Each NBA team is now allowed to sign two players to so-called "two-way contracts", allowing them to move the players freely between the NBA and G League without the risk of losing rights to them. Players under two-way contracts do not count against the NBA team's roster limit, receive a higher salary while in the G League than other players competing there, and are paid a prorated NBA rookie salary for the days they play with the NBA team. Also, their salaries (whether in the G League or with the NBA team) do not count against the league's salary cap. However, they originally could still only play in the NBA for 45 days in the regular season, and they couldn't be part of the team's roster during playoff games... until the COVID-19 Pandemic changed that due to the NBA being disadvantaged in that regard if players got infected from it. For the 2020 NBA Bubble and the 2020-21 NBA Playoffs, two-way contracts were allowed to compete in the Playoffs like any other player without restrictions. Furthermore, starting in the 2020-21 season, two-way contracts were given significant raises (values equal to half of a minimum rookie scaled contract as opposed to having player salaries that were barely above an average work place's yearly salary) and were allowed to play for up to 50 games in a season before requiring a promotion to continue playing with the team (though the latter note wasn't considered necessary for the first two seasons the 50 game restriction was added as a replacement).

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Eastern Conference

    Atlantic Division 
  • The Boston Celtics are one of the oldest, most storied, and most successful teams in the history of the league. Founded in 1946 as one of the league's original teams, the Celtics have recorded the most wins of any NBA team and have won 17 championships, long the most in the league. This number was greatly inflated by an unprecedented eight straight championship wins between 1959-66, by far the longest such streak in North American pro sports. Behind legends such as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek and coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics were the most dominant team in basketball in the late '50s and '60s even outside their unbroken run—five-time MVP Russell won 11 total championships within 13 seasons.note  The team picked up two more titles in the '70s before Kevin McHale and Larry Bird added three more to the tally in the '80s. Success eluded the Celtics for many years after Bird retired.note  However, behind a revived "Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, the Celtics won their 17th championship in 2008. They've remained generally competitive in years since, though they have yet to add another O'Brien Trophy to the case, allowing their championship record to be tied by their Arch-Enemy, the Lakers. The Celtics and the Lakers have one of the fiercest rivalries in sports due to classic matchups in the '60s and '80s as well as the more personal rivalry between Bird and Magic Johnson. The team's name and mascot, a leprechaun named Lucky, are a reference to Boston's sizable Irish population, and their main colors are green and white.
  • The Brooklyn Nets were formerly known as the New Jersey Nets (and before that the New York Nets, and before that the New Jersey Americans). They were one of four teams to merge into the NBA in 1976 from the merger with the rival ABA. In the Nets' ABA days, they were led by Dr. J himself, Julius Erving, and won two ABA titles. Their years in the NBA, however, have not been as fruitful, as the Nets have been mired in mediocrity throughout much of their history, with the only notable exception coming in the form of back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, though they lost both. In 2012, the Nets moved to Brooklyn to give the borough its first major league franchise since the Dodgers left for California in the '50s.note  After three good seasons in Brooklyn, the aging/expensive roster briefly bottomed out before climbing out of the abyss and signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the 2019 offseason, making them potential title contenders with the hype of being a "superteam", only added to after the Nets made a monster trade to get James Harden from the Rockets during the 2020-21 season. The Nets are one of three teams with non-white majority owners; Joseph Tsai, the Taiwanese–Canadian cofounder of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, finalized his purchase of the 51% of the team he didn't already own in 2019. He spent $2.35 billion in all to buy complete control, the highest price to date for an NBA franchise. Their colors are black and white.
  • The New York Knicks (short for "Knickerbockers"note ) are one of the NBA's most valuable franchises in terms of net worth, though the team has been The Chew Toy of the NBA for a long time. A charter member of the leaguenote , the Knicks won two titles in 1970 and 1973 led by Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, and Willis Reed. In the '90s, the team was led by Patrick Ewing and went to two Finals in 1994 and 1999 but came up short of a championship win against the other dominant teams of the era. More recently, the Knicks have been the victim of several seasons of mismanagement and horrible front office moves, primarily led by executive owner James Dolan. They tried to shed this image in more recent seasons with Carmelo Anthony and Latvian forward Kristaps Porziņģis on the court and Phil Jackson in the front office, but all of these moves proved disastrous. The Knicks currently play in the oldest arena in the league (Madison Square Garden opened in 1967), but it is a relatively new facility thanks to a 2010s renovation. Following a 2020 corporate spin-off, the company that runs the Garden is separate from the one that owns the Knicks, but James Dolan and his family hold voting control of both companies. The arena's fame as a concert and boxing venue in America's biggest market means it's more valuable than the team is.note  Spike Lee is a devout fan of the team, and his escalating despair over the team's struggles from his front-row seat in the Garden has arguably eclipsed the entertainment value of the team itself. However, they have seen recent positive changes from around the time they acquired Julius Randle. The team's colors are a vibrant Orange/Blue Contrast.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers are one of original teams in the NBA. Dating back to 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals, the Sixers have called Philly home since 1963. They have boasted some of the greatest players in NBA history, including Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson. The franchise won three titles in their history (1955 as the Nationals and 1967 and 1983 as the 76ers) and have logged nine total trips to the NBA Finals, with four of them coming in a run of strength in the late '70s/early '80s (ironically kicking off in the 1976-77 season) and the most recent coming in 2001. For much of the 2010s, after years of inconsistency, they went through perhaps the most extreme rebuilding process the NBA has ever seen in hopes of building a more sustained winning franchise, with three seasons featuring extended losing streaks and fewer than 20 victories while continually sending away most competitive players in exchange for draft picks. (Fans were told during this period to "trust the Process"; diehard Sixers fans during the wilderness years thus came to be called "Process-Trusters"). The saving grace from all this is that they got a bunch of early draft picks thanks to the equally mismanaged Sacramento Kings; since the late 2010s, the team has been competitive but has a bad case of Every Year They Fizzle Out, leaving many to question if "The Process" was worth it. The team's colors, reflecting their patriotic name (a reference to the date the U.S. Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia), are red, white, and blue.
  • The Toronto Raptors are one of the youngest franchises in the NBA and are the only team still based in Canada after the league's attempted expansion into the country in 1995. By the late 2000s, they started to focus on that aspect, trading their primary color from purple to red and coining the slogan "We the North". The Raptors were initially known for the teams that featured Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. After many stretches as The Chew Toy, they started to recover in 2016 with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, having a major winning breakthrough in the playoffs and going all the way to the Conference Finals. Despite this, they were never good enough to beat LeBron and the Cavaliers, which reached its apex in 2018 when the Cavs swept the Raps in the second round despite the latter team having home-court advantage, leading to the moniker "LeBronto" for their city. This forced a minor rebuilding process in 2019, the centerpiece of which was trading franchise star DeRozan for former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard; the risk was worth it, as the Raptors advanced to their first-ever NBA Finals and became the first team/city outside the U.S. to win the NBA championship, defeating the Warriors in six games and earning Leonard his second Finals MVP and NBA trophies. The Raptors seem to be facing something of a rebuild following Leonard's departure for the Clippers in the 2019 offseason. Jurassic Park not only inspired the team name but became the nickname of Maple Leaf Square during public viewings of the team's games.

    Central Division 
  • The Chicago Bulls were the team of the '90s and remain one of the NBA's most popular teams despite generally underperforming through the rest of their history. The Bulls date back to 1966 but had seen barely any glory until the arrival of Michael Jordan and a host of other stars who won Chicago six championships playing some of the greatest basketball the NBA has ever seen. (The 1995-96 Bulls went 72-10, a record until the 2015–16 Warriors came along, en route to their fourth title.) Since that era's end, however, the Bulls have struggled to rise back to the top of the Eastern Conference, flirting in and out being a top contender but having not not returned to the NBA Finals since Jordan's departure. The team's colors are red and black.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers are best known as having been the team of LeBron James for most of his career. Founded in 1970, the Cavs were borderline mediocre throughout much of their history, having never made it to the NBA Finals until 2007; they reached them four more times since then, in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, all with LeBron. In 2003, they drafted James first overall and became one of the best teams in the East for the next few seasons. After several seasons of playoff disappointments, James left the Cavs and signed with Miami in 2010, and Cleveland went roughly nowhere without their best player. After four years in Miami, he decided to come home to much rejoicing; the Cavs got back near the top of the league and finally won a championship in 2016 (Cleveland's first in any major league sport since 1964).note  However, LeBron left again in 2018, this time for the Lakers, returning the Cavs to the state they were in after his first departure, though with a championship to their name. They're now back to respectability, though not yet close to title contention. Their colors are dark wine red and gold.
  • The Detroit Pistons actually predate the NBA itself by nine years, having been founded in 1937 in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a semi-professional team created by a request from the workers of the team's original owner, Fred Zollner of the Zollner Corporation. They Zollner Pistons later became professional in 1941 as part of the NBL (where they won two championships in 1944-5) before joining the NBA (removing the Zollner from the team name) in 1948 (and being a key figure for the NBL/BAA merger into the NBA a year later, literally agreeing to the merger in Zollner's house at his kitchen table) and moving to Detroit in 1957. In their over 70 years of existence, the Pistons have only won the NBA championship thrice, and they struggled through most of the '60s and '70s. The team is best remembered for the infamous "Bad Boys" teams of the late '80s and early '90s. Led by Isiah Thomas and with players such as Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Rick Mahorn, the "Bad Boy" Pistons used brutal defense to win two straight championships in 1989 and 1990, knocking out Michael Jordan and his Bulls in the process. Their championship run in 2004 was led by the core of Chauncey Billups, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace, who dominated the Eastern Conference for most of the 2000s, though they have since regressed back to the bottom of the league. After nearly 40 years based in Detroit's northern suburbs, the team returned to the city proper in 2017 to share the arena built by the NHL's Red Wings. Their colors are blue and red.
  • The Indiana Pacersnote  (named in reference to the pace cars of Indy Car) are one of the four teams that joined the NBA from the ABA merger in 1976. While the Pacers won three championships in the ABA, they lost their only trip to the NBA Finals in 2000. They are best known for their '90s teams led by Reggie Miller, who had an outstanding rivalry with the New York Knicks throughout the decade. In recent years, the Pacers were one of the most competitive teams in the Eastern Conference before star player Paul George was dealt to the Thunder in the 2017 offseason. Their colors are navy blue and gold.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks, the reigning NBA champions, are the former team of Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Oscar Robertson and the current team of Greek swingman and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. They won a championship in 1971, their third season of existence, and another Finals appearance three years later, but were generally average to mediocre after that, with some good teams in the mid-'80s and a deep run in 2001. The acquisition of Giannis turned the Bucks' fortunes around in the late 2010s, culminating in their first title in a half-century in 2021. Antetokounmpo bucked (no pun intended) the trend of small-market superstars leaving through free agency or forcing a trade, something Kareem did to the Bucks in the seventies, by signing a supermax extension in the 2020 offseason. Pundits mocked the move, but Giannis and the Bucks got the last laugh the year before the new deal kicked in. The Bucks ended a 30-year residence at Bradley Center in 2018 (by which time it had become the league's oldest unremodeled arena) and now play across the street in the brand-new Fiserv Forum. For decades the team was owned by U.S. Senator/Kohl's department store CEO Herb Kohl before being bought out by a hedge fund in 2014. Their main colors are green and cream, and their slogan is "Fear the Deer".

    Southeast Division 
  • The Atlanta Hawks have been around for as long as the NBA itself. Founded in 1946 as the Buffalo Bisons, they moved after barely a month of play to become the Tri-Cities Blackhawksnote . The franchise moved to Milwaukee in 1951 and to St. Louis in 1955 before landing in Atlanta in 1968. Historically, the franchise has not been very successful, having won only one championship back in St. Louis in 1958. In more modern terms, the Hawks can be recognized from their teams from the '80s, led by Slam Dunk Contest champions Spud Webb and Dominique Wilkins. After being one of the East's more solid teams in the late 2000s though the mid-2010s, the team entered into a brief rebuilding mode before emerging for a deep playoff run in 2021. From 2004 through 2015, also noted for a circus of discord among its ownership group, featuring numerous lawsuits (with some owners even suing each other), that finally ended with the team's sale. Their colors are red, yellow, and black.
  • The Charlotte Hornetsnote  have an... interesting history. The original Hornets were founded in 1988 and were one of the most exciting and popular teams of the '90s (helped by their very decade-appropriate teal and purple color scheme). However, falling attendance, uninspired play, and a souring relationship between the fans and the owner prompted the Hornets to move to New Orleans. In the aftermath of the Hornets move, the NBA awarded Charlotte an expansion team for the 2004-05 season, giving the league an even 30 teams, and so the Charlotte Bobcats were born. In their 10 seasons as the Bobcats, they only made the playoffs twice and became known for some really bad basketball. In 2013, the New Orleans Hornets renamed themselves the Pelicans, thus opening the door for the Bobcats to "return" the Hornets name and colors back to Charlotte. Additionally, by agreement with the NBA and the Pelicans, the team also regained the rights to the history and records of the original Charlotte Hornets. The other most notable thing about the team is that it has been owned by Michael Jordan since 2010, making him the only former player to have majority ownership for a franchise, though he has had far less success leading a team off the court; they remain the only Eastern team to have yet to make a Finals appearance. They were also the first NBA team with a non-white majority owner; Jordan's predecessor, founder Robert Johnson, is also African-American.
  • The Miami Heat are one of the more decorated and successful teams in the league, garnering six Finals appearances (including four straight in the early 2010s) and three NBA championships since stepping on the court as an expansion franchise in 1988. They were one of the most competitive teams in the '90s when they were led by Alonzo Mourning, then broke through for their first title in 2006 thanks to Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. From 2010 through 2014, LeBron James and Chris Bosh formed a Power Trio with Wade, turning the Heat into the go-to polarizing team in all of basketball and earning back-to-back league titles. After the 2013-14 season, LeBron left to go back to Cleveland. Since then, the Heat have been trying to rebuild a team to go back to the Finals, which they managed in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season (amusingly against LeBron's Lakers, which defeated them). Their colors are black, red, and yellow.
  • The Orlando Magic have only been around since 1989, yet were competitive in the East for a good part of their history, with players like Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard leading the Magic to five division titles and two trips to the NBA Finals in 1994 and 2009. Unfortunately, they have been closer to the bottom of the league since Howard left in 2012 and are currently in the midst of a rebuilding process. Their name is a lawyer-friendly allusion to nearby Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, as they are the only Big Four franchise to call the Theme Park Capital of the World home, and their colors are blue, black, and silver.
  • The Washington Wizards date back to 1961. They have seen plenty of moves and name changes in their history: Chicago Packers in 1961, Chicago Zephyrs in 1962, Baltimore Bullets (2.0) in 1963, Capital Bullets in 1973, Washington Bullets in 1974, and finally the current name in 1997 after enough people pointed out that having a gun-related name in a city with a high crime rate was a poor marketing strategy. As the Bullets, they had a dominant run in the '70s, led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, that saw them make four trips to the Finals, winning the championship in 1978. Sadly, the Bullets/Wizards have never advanced past the second round of the playoffs since their '78 championship, through the '90s couldn't even get to the postseason, and were known in the early 2000s as the place where an aged Michael Jordan failed to prolong his career. The current Wizards are still trying to establish themselves as a legit contender in the East. Their colors, fitting with their position in the nation's capital, are red, white, and blue.

Western Conference

    Northwest Division 
  • The Denver Nuggetsnote  were founded in 1967 officially as an ABA team called the Rockets and are one of the four ABA teams that merged into the NBA in 1976. Throughout the '80s and early '90s, the Nuggets were recognized for their high-scoring offense, led by Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe, and their so-so defense.note  They were anchored defensively by Dikembe Mutombo in the early '90s and notched the very first #8 seed upset in the first round of the 1994 playoffs over Seattle. The Nuggets were led by Carmelo Anthony from 2003 to 2011 and advanced as far as the Conference Finals in 2009. The Nuggets, now led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray, are the only former ABA team who has yet to make an appearance in the NBA Finals (the closest they've come are three Conference Finals, most recently in the 2020 Bubble). Their colors are blue, yellow, and red.
  • The Minnesota Timberwolvesnote  are best known for having been Kevin Garnett's main team. Founded in 1989, the T-Wolves' successes are tied with Garnett's prime years, which culminated in 2004 with an MVP award and the team's only division title and trip to the Conference Finals. Ever since then, the T-Wolves have finished at or near the bottom of a hyper-competitive Western Conference, only making the playoffs once since, and hold the dubious "honor" of having the worst lifetime win percentage in the league and (counting playoffs) the worst in major North American pro sports. Even though Garnett left Minnesota for Boston in 2007 (where he finally won a championship), an older KG returned to the T-Wolves in 2015 for one final season as a mentor to the current young roster, which is now led by Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell. They are the most recent NBA team to have changed hands, having been purchased in May 2021 for $1.5 billion by e-commerce mogul Marc Lore and former MLB superstar Alex Rodriguez. Their colors are blue and green.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder were formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Founded in 1967, the Sonics had a history of moderate successes in the Northwest, winning the NBA title in 1979 and reaching the Finals on two other occasions (1978, 1996). Unfortunately, the lack of a new arena deal in Seattle, coupled with the owners' ties to Oklahoma and the feverish support OKC gave to the Hornets when they were displaced for two seasons by Hurricane Katrina, prompted the move of the Sonics to become the Thunder in 2008. (This is still a sore point in Seattle).note . As the only major pro sports franchise in Oklahoma, the team grew powerful under by superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and the young core of talent led the Thunder to a Finals appearance in 2012. Durant's departure for the Warriors as a free agent after 2016 left the Thunder with a very uncertain future, though Westbrook carried the team to a playoff appearance and an MVP title and they picked up Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to create a new Big 3 in the offseason. This ultimately failed to get them back to Finals, leading to the team entering rebuild mode in 2019. The team's colors are orange, blue, and yellow.
  • The Portland Trail Blazers date back to 1970 and are the former team of Clyde Drexler (who led Portland to the Finals in 1990 and '92) and Bill Walton (who won their only championship in 1977). The Blazers are also unfortunately associated with not one but TWO drafts which they passed up picking a superstar in favor of a player whose career got cut short due to injuries (Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in 1984 and Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in 2007.)note  In recent years, the Blazers have overcome setbacks after setbacks to try to stay competitive in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to the exploits of Damian Lillard. The Blazers are both the only Big Four sports team in Portland and, with the moving of the SuperSonics, the only NBA team in the Pacific Northwest (they actually share owners with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League). Their colors are red and black, and their "pinwheel" logo is meant to be an abstract illustration of a 5-on-5 player matchup (yes, really — what can we say, it's Portland).
  • The Utah Jazznote  are the former team of "Pistol" Pete Maravich, John Stockton, Karl "The Mailman" Malone, and longtime head coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz have been one of the league's stronger teams, being the only one to never post more than 60 losses in a season and made the playoffs 19 years straight from '84 to '03, being led for many of those years by the tandem of Stockton and Malone. However, despite their dominance, they have no championships to show for it. The team have only made the Finals twice ('97-'98) and lost both to Michael Jordan's Bulls. Currently, Donovan Mitchell and three-time DPotY Rudy Gobert have returned the Jazz to strength, though a championship still eludes them. Oh, right; if you're wondering what Mormon Utah has to do with jazz, this is yet another team with an Artifact Title. The franchise started in New Orleans in 1974 and moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. The team's then-owner didn't change the name and kept their Mardi Gras-inspired colors of blue, green, and gold because he thought the move would be temporary, but after all these years few question it anymore.note  When Tom Benson acquired the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012, he attempted to reclaim the Jazz name for New Orleans; however, the Jazz owners weren't interested in giving it up.

    Pacific Division 
  • The Golden State Warriors are the Bay Area's team and the strongest franchise of the 2010s. While their recent accomplishments stand out most clearly, they also have a deep and well-traveled history. Formed as the Philadelphia Warriors, a charter member of the NBA, the franchise has won six championships, the most in the league behind only the Lakers and Celtics: two in Philly in 1947 (the first in league history) and 1956, and four in California in 1975, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Wilt Chamberlain played for the Warriors before and after their cross-country move prior to his return to Philadelphia with the 76ers. The team took the "Golden State" name in 1971 after moving to neighboring Oakland, and Rick Barry led them to the title in 1975. They declined into nearly three decades of mediocre basketball soon after, but things changed dramatically for the Warriors when they drafted "Splash Brothers" Stephen Curry (2009) and Klay Thompson (2011). With the additions of power forward Draymond Green in 2012 and head coach Steve Kerr in 2014, the Warriors established themselves as arguably the greatest shooting team in NBA history, winning the title in 2015, and followed that up by going 73–9 in the 2015–16 regular season, surpassing the 1995–96 Bulls for the best regular-season record in league history (though unlike the Bulls, they were defeated in the finals, despite at one point having a 3-1 series advantage over the Cavaliers). Through 2019, the "Dubs"note  were one of the greatest teams the league has ever seen, and thanks to their core's relative youth, appeared to be a title threat for years to come... and that was before they added Kevin Durant in the 2016 offseason. They didn't do quite as well in the 2016–17 regular season but still had the league's best record and embarked on a historic rampage through the playoffs, with their only postseason loss coming in Game 4 of the Finals against The Rival Cleveland; they swept the Cavs completely in the next Finals, effectively sending LeBron James to the Lakers in the process. The Dubs had less luck in the 2019 Finals, where they lost 4–2 to the Raptors due to injuries that continued to plague the team. They departed Oakland for a new arena in San Francisco in 2019, which seemed to curse the team for the next two seasons; however, the dynasty resumed in 2021-22, with the Bash Brothers and a new supporting cast returning the Warriors to conference final contention. Their colors are yellow and royal blue.
  • The Los Angeles Clippers are one of two teams in Los Angeles, both of which currently share an arena at Staples Center. Born as the Buffalo Braves in 1970, they became the San Diego Clippers (as in the boats, not the hair-cutting instruments) in 1978 and moved to L.A. in 1984, where for a long time they became regarded as the worst team in the league, if not in all four major sports leagues. This was largely due to the ineptitude of longtime owner Donald Sterling, though a lack of talent (either due to draft busts or poor signing decisions) and the raving success of the crosstown Lakers didn't help matters either. Things started to look up for them in the 2010s when they drafted Blake Griffin, acquired Chris Paul, and Sterling was permanently banned from league operations thanks to his history of racist comments, giving up the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Lob City era was born in that time, being named that after Paul's skillful passing and Griffin and DeAndre Jordan's awe-inspiring dunks, and the Clippers became perennial playoff contenders. The team's fortunes continued to improve at the end of the decade when they obtained two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and All-Star Paul George, who finally managed to take the team to a conference championship for the first time in its half-century history of existence in 2021, though they still fell short of the finals, keeping them the franchise that has gone the longest (over 50 years) without ever playing in one. Shortly after Kawhi and PG came on board, the team announced plans to build a new arena in Inglewood next to the stadium that opened in 2020 for the NFL's Rams and Chargers. The new arena is set to open in 2024. Their colors are red, blue, and black.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are arguably the league's most popular team. They are one of the most accomplished franchises in sports, winning 17 championships and posting a record 32 appearances in the NBA Finals. The Lakers have been home to some of the greatest teams and greatest players the NBA has even seen, such as Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and LeBron James. They're also known for their celebrity fanbase, most notably Jack Nicholson; expect broadcast cameras to focus on Nicholson several times a game. The Artifact Title name comes from their original city, Minneapolis, located in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes", which were originally created for the then-rivaling NBL after the wretched Detroit Gems folded and were pretty much sold off to a Minneapolis owner after the Gems' only season of existence. The Lakers began stacking up championships immediately, winning the NBL's title in 1948 after their very first season before jumping over to the BAA (the precursor the NBA) the next year and five of the next six championships there. They moved to LA and quickly began establishing themselves as the city's favorite sports franchise by bringing titles to multiple generations of Angelenos. Fans of different ages can remember Chamberlain winning a late-career championship in 1972, the "Showtime" era of Magic and Kareem in the '80s that saw them win five championships and engage in an epic rivalry with Larry Bird and the Celtics, and the Kobe years, with either the Shaq three-peat from 2000 to 2002 or the back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. The following decade was not as kind to the Lakers, as Bryant fell victim to injuries and attempts to follow the superteam trend fizzled out; after never posting a playoff drought longer than two seasons in the franchise's entire history, they missed out on the postseason for six years. However, the arrival of James and Anthony Davis brought them back to the top of the league once again after the COVID-impacted 2019–20 season, tying their rival Celtics for the most championships. After the 2020–21 season, they created a new "Big Three", trading for L.A. native Russell Westbrook. The Lakers have produced some of the most dominant eras in the NBA, which makes them as big as a love-em-or-hate-em team (and fanbase) as you'll ever come across. Their colors are purple and gold.
  • The Phoenix Suns date back to 1968 and are the former team of Charles Barkley in the early-to-mid '90s and Steve Nash for much of the 2000s. Despite generally being a strong team, the Suns' successes have almost always flamed out in some fashion or another and the franchise has never won a championship title; in fact, they have the most Finals appearances of any team without a title. They have been involved in many benchmark moments in NBA history, including what many consider the greatest NBA game ever played, Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals where the Suns lost to Boston 128-126 in triple overtime. Barkley's squad were stopped short in the '93 Finals by Jordan's Bulls. The 2000s saw Nash take the Suns to the top of the standings with a high octane offense, but the franchise slumped after his departure. In 2020-21, after not reaching the postseason for a full decade, the team went on a resurgent run (led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul) all the way to another Finals appearance and won the first two games over the Bucks, only to lose the next four and the series. Currently, their franchise owner, Robert Sarver, is embroiled over serious allegations of racism, sexism, and misogyny that has not been seen since Donald Sterling owned the Clippers above. Their colors are purple and orange.
  • The Sacramento Kings are the journeyman franchise of the NBA. They're also by far the oldest franchise in the league, tracing their roots back to 1923, when they were founded as the semi-pro Rochester Seagrams. After going pro and eventually renaming themselves the Royals in 1945, they won the NBL Championship. Three years later, they joined the BAA/NBA. They moved to Cincinnati in 1957, then became the Kansas City(-Omaha) Kings in 1972, and finally settled in Sacramento in 1985, becoming the only Big Four sports team in the market. Despite their history, the Kings only have one NBA title to their name, won in 1951, and haven't even made it to the Finals since.note During the early 2000s, the team was a perennial contender thanks to a strong starting five and the home-court advantage of its raucous crowd. Unfortunately, that core of players could never defeat the Shaq and Kobe Lakers and were never able to reach the Finals. Since then, the team has fallen into the bottom tier of the league. After many relocation rumorsnote , a local entrepreneur (and former minority owner of the Golden State Warriors) bought the Kings, and Sacramento was able to get a deal in place to build a new arena. Incidentally, this transaction made the Kings the second NBA team with a non-white majority owner, as said entrepreneur, Vivek Ranadivé, is originally from India. Nowadays, the Kings are trying to build a playoff-contending team, but a series of poor ownership decisions, a carousel of lame-duck coaches, and boneheaded front office choicesnote  have prevented the Kings from having sustained success, currently being tied for the longest playoff drought in NBA history. Their colors are royal purple and gray.

    Southwest Division 
  • The Dallas Mavericks were founded in 1980 and were home to some okay basketball in the '80s and some truly awful basketball in the '90s. Then dot-com bubble billionaire Mark Cuban bought the team in 2000. Since then, the Mavs have consistently been one of the best teams in the NBA led by players like Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Jason Terry, and Dirk Nowitzki. Despite being one of the toughest teams to play in the 21st century, the Mavs could never seem to win it all until 2011, when they upset LeBron and the Miami Heat to give the franchise its first championship. With Nowitzki having retired in 2019, the Mavs are now led by Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porziņģis. The Mavericks got their name because Maverick star James Garner was a part of the founding ownership; their mascot is a stallion and their colors are blue and silver.
  • The Houston Rockets date back to 1967. They were the San Diego Rockets for their first four seasons before moving to Houston; obviously, with Houston's NASA roots, there was no reason for a name change. After a Finals appearance in 1980, the team picked up Hakeem Olajuwon, who led them to another Finals appearance in '86 and back-to-back championships in the '94-95. The Rockets made an international splash in 2002 when they won the right to draft Chinese superstar Yao Ming. Sadly, injuries shortened not only Yao's career but also that of fellow superstar Tracy McGrady, which affected the Rockets' chances of competing against Kobe's Lakers, Dirk's Mavs, and Duncan's Spurs. After Yao retired in 2011, the Rockets were left in mediocrity limbo until a fortunate trade landed James Harden in 2012. The Rockets established themselves as a true contender in the West, advancing to the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and finishing the 2017–18 regular season with the league's best record. However, the team was never able to get over the hump to return to the Finals, and they entered a rebuild in 2021, engineering a four-team trade in 2021 that sent Harden to the Nets. Their colors are red and black.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the youngest teams in the league and started out in Vancouver in 1995. After six seasons of some REALLY bad basketball in Canada (compiling an all-time winning percentage of .220 by the time they moved south), the Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, becoming the city's only Big Four sports team. They've shown improvement in their time in Memphis but have never experienced big time success in the playoffs, only logging one trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. The Grizzlies were led by Pau Gasol in the mid-2000s before he was traded to the Lakers in a deal that saw Memphis acquire Pau's kid brother, Marc, who emerged as one of the best big men in the NBA before being moved to the Raptors in a salary dump in 2019. They are currently known for their defensive style of play, and for giving what was then the most expensive NBA contract... to Mike Conley, who they ended up trading to the Jazz just before the 2019 draft, in which they picked up their current floor leader, 2020 Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Their colors are blue and gold.
  • The New Orleans Pelicans, formerly the New Orleans Hornets, were the de facto original incarnation of the Charlotte Hornets who moved to New Orleans in 2002. A deal struck with the current Charlotte Hornets has officially deemed the Pelicans as though they never were in Charlotte, having been founded in 2002 instead of 1988 (the year the Charlotte Hornets were founded). When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, they played home games in Oklahoma City for two years, making them the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for two seasons (and contributing to Seattle losing the SuperSonics). The team's been fairly consistent in their history - occasionally very bad, occasionally very good, but mostly in the middle of the pack. Point guard Chris Paul led the team to their first divisional title in 2008, but they've slipped back into mediocrity since then. Through 2012 and 2013, the team gained a new owner, their new name, and drafted Anthony Davis into their team, making them one of the more exciting young teams in the league. However, with the Pels mired in mediocrity in 2018–19, Davis let it be known that he wouldn't re-sign with NOLA once his contract ended in 2020. He got his wish in the 2019 offseason, being traded to the Lakers for a treasure trove of young prospects and draft picks which, along with the Pels' selection of college sensation Zion Williamson as the first pick in the 2019 Draft, gave the team a jump start on a rebuild. Their colors are blue, gold, and red.
  • The San Antonio Spurs are arguably the most consistently dominant team in NBA history, boasting the highest win percentage of any team in the league. In the almost 40 years since entering the NBA from the ABA in 1976, they have only missed the playoffs four times, only recently having a streak of years missing the NBA Playoffs altogether! Originating in Dallas as the Chaparrals, they moved to San Antonio in 1973, becoming the city's sole Big Four sports team. While the Spurs saw moderate successes with George Gervin in the '80s and David Robinson in the '90s, it was the arrival of Tim Duncan in 1997, alongside the acquisition of Tony Parker in 2001 and Manu Ginóbili in 2002 and the coaching brilliance of Gregg Popovich, that propelled the Spurs into championship success and made them one of the most premier franchises in sports. The Spurs have won five championships ('99, '03, '05, '07, '14) and have consistently won 50 games or more year in and year out. They have seen soaring victoriesnote , and heart-wrenching lossesnote . Interestingly, they are NOT among the NBA's most popular teams, with their play frequently described as "boring", but the Spurs just kept on winning until finally trailing off in the late '10s. Their streak of consecutive postseason appearances ended in 2020 at a NBA record-tying 22, making them the last team in the four major American sports leagues to miss the playoffs in the 21st century.note  Their colors are black and silver, though they used to also wear festive Fiesta colors on their warm-ups during the late 1980's until the early 2000's.

Information about Other Teams

    Former Teams 
Additionally, there were 15 teams back in the 1940s and 1950s that no longer exist, even if some of their names ended up being revived altogether. Some teams' stories are more interesting than others, but they're all still dead. These are their stories.

  • The Anderson Packers (1945-1951) were previously known as the Anderson Duffey Packers, the Anderson Chiefs, or even the Chief Anderson Meat Packers in the NBL before changing their name in the NBA due to Product Placement with the meat packing company known as Duffey's Incorporated being involved at the time; they were the last champion team for the NBL, which was a big chunk of teams for the early NBA at the time. In their one season with the NBA (1949-50), they ended up defeating their division rivals in the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and the Indianapolis Olympians before being bested by the eventual champion Minneapolis Lakers. After their failure in the NBA (primarily being one of three specific places that were ridiculed for being farming areas competing against teams representing major cities), they decided to move on to the competing National Professional Basketball League before later folding alongside the league.
  • The original Baltimore Bullets (1944-1954) are currently the only dead NBA team to end up winning an NBA Finals championship. Baltimore began as an ABL team that once won a championship there against the Philadelphia Sphas (who actually were a precursor to the Washington Generals) before moving to the BAA in 1947-48, where they had their best success as a team. They are also the only ABL team to move to the NBA. Afterwards, the team had unfortunate luck, making it to the playoffs twice afterward before folding after 14 games with a record of 3-11 into the 1954-55 season, with those games being considered wiped away from existence from the teams that played against them in that time. Also, they shouldn't be confused with the Baltimore Bullets team that are now the Washington Wizards, especially since the NBA doesn't recognize the original Baltimore Bullets as a successor to the Wizards.
  • The Chicago Stags (1946-1950) are Chicago's first attempt at having an NBA team before they eventually settled with the Chicago Bulls. Originally, they were meant to be the Chicago Atomics in the preseason before having a sudden name change to the Stags before the start of the inaugural season. The Stags had a good opportunity to succeed with being the first of two teams to enter the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the success they had was short-lived, as while they did make it to the playoffs in all the other years, they just didn't have the luck or cash needed to help keep the team around, despite the acquisition rights to eventual Boston Celtic Bob Cousy and having a leading scorer in Max Zaslofsky. The team was once planned to be renamed the Chicago Bruins after 1950 and planned to be a part of the Harlem Globetrotters' touring areas in that time, but that plan was aborted almost immediately. They do hold some remembrance, as the Stags' old jerseys were worn in a few NBA games back in the 2005-06 season. They are also one of the original 11 NBA teams in their first ever NBA season.
  • The Cleveland Rebels (1946-47) are Cleveland's first attempt at an NBA team before getting the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were also an original-11 NBA team. In their one year with the BAA/NBA, they ended up grabbing an average record, and ended up losing to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. After that, they just went out of business with them having a net loss of $3,140 in their sole season in the league.
  • The original Denver Nuggets (1932-1951) are Denver's first ever top-level professional team. Unfortunately, they were probably the worst team they had. In their two years with the NBL/NBA, they ended up getting two losing records, the second of which being the worst in the NBA that year. On the plus side, they were a great AAU team competing in the Missouri Valley section back in 1932-48 (as well as competed semi-professionally before entering the NBL) with a few different names to them in their earlier years, and they put the city on the map in terms of sports there. Just like Baltimore, they shouldn't be confused with the current Denver NBA team of the same name, albeit that Denver Nuggets weren't originally named the Nuggets to begin with.note  That team also was one of four teams to leave for the failing NPBL before later renaming themselves to the Denver (Frontier) Refiners and then the Evansville Agogans there before folding around the same time the failed league did. As such, the NBA doesn't recognize that Denver Nuggets team as a successor to the current Nuggets team that began in the ABA.
  • The Detroit Falcons (1946-47) were Detroit's first NBA team before they acquired the Detroit Pistons. They were also an original 11 NBA team. However, their team was a bad one, with their only star, Stan Miasak, making it just on their first ever All-BAA/NBA First Team. Combine that with them rivaling against an NBL team named the Detroit Gems that same season (who also were terrible that season, though at least they were a precursor to the modern-day Los Angeles Lakers), and it's no wonder why they didn't work out as a team.
  • The Indianapolis Kautskys (1928-1949) were the first chance Indiana had for a professional basketball team. The team's owner, farmer turned grocer Frank Kautsky, created his own successful amateur team in 1928 (despite never playing the sport before) before it became fully professional by the next year. They previously competed in the National Professional Basketball League in their sole season of existence (1932-33) and the Midwest Basketball Conference (which Kautsky owned alongside Paul Sheeks and was considered a precursor to the NBL) from 1935-1937 before later becoming a founding charter member of the National Basketball League. However, the Kautskys weren't really one of the best NBL teams around, even going around and temporarily suspending operations for the 1940-41 season and from 1942-45, the latter of which was due to World War II happening. However, the team did compete under the temporary monikers of the Indianapolis Pure Oils and Indianapolis Oilers during their time at the World Professional Basketball Tournament there, even winning that tournament in 1947 when they returned to being the Kautskys again. Along with the Lakers, the (Zollner) Pistons, and the Rochester Royals, the Kautskys ended up moving from the NBL to the BAA in their 1948-49 season, and rebranded themselves as the Indianapolis Jets there due to them being named after their owner. Unfortunately for them, they still ended up having a losing record, and they folded by force after one season with the NBA. However, not all hope would be lost for Indiana because they ended up gaining "another" NBA team in the form of...
  • The Indianapolis Olympians (1949-1953) were Indiana's second chance for a professional basketball team after the Kautskys/Jets experiment failed by force from the NBA merger. Unlike the first Indianapolis team, the Olympians were led by some players who were on the U.S. Olympic team in 1948. Four of these were among the University of Kentucky's fabled "Fabulous Five". They even ended up gaining a winning record in their first year, and even ended up making it to the playoffs in every season they played. In fact, the creation of the Olympians was directly responsible for the BAA–NBL merger (see the entry for Danny Biasone and Leo Ferris in the "notable executives" folder for more details). Unfortunately, when the NBA discovered that two key components admitted in 1951 to have shaved points during their UK careers, they were banned from the NBA for life and the Olympians were never the same, despite having a winning record again after that year. When they had a horrid losing record that still made it to the playoffs and your first opponent would be the eventual champion Lakers, you might as well consider yourself dead afterwards. On a plus side, they were the winners of a six-overtime game against the Rochester Royals in 1951. Despite that long amount of time, the score on that game was rather small, since it ended with the score of 75-73! Eventually, Indiana finally found a NBA team to truly call their team... with a former ABA team entering the NBA.
  • The Pittsburgh Ironmen (1946-47) are the NBA's only attempt to venture out to the land of Pittsburgh, but it wouldn't be the end of their ventures in Pennsylvania. They were also an original 11 NBA team. In their one year around, they were the worst team in the league with a 15-45 record. On a trivia note, the Pittsburgh Steelers were temporarily renamed the Pittsburgh Iron Men back in 1941.
  • The Providence Steamrollers (1946-49) The last professional team in general to ever play in the state of Rhode Island, as well as an original 11 NBA team. The Steamrollers were named after the original NFL team that went by the (relatively) same name. However, this team was simply put a horrible team, with one season giving them only 6 total wins! (They still aren't the worst team, percentage-wise. That dubious "honor" now belongs to the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, who had 7 wins and 59 losses.) They also played the oldest NBA player ever in a guy named "Nat Hickey", a Croatian-American who renamed himself to that after his family moved to the U.S.A. and decided to play while still being a head coach for the team as an early birthday gift. He only scored two points via free throws, thus making him the oldest NBA player ever at 45 years, 363 days old!
  • The Sheboygan Red Skins (1933-1952) were from the Wisconsin lakeshore city, with the Red Skins being a team that has a somewhat tragic end. They began as a few successful small teams like the Ballhorns, the Art Imig's, and the Enzo Jels (all local businesses which still exist today) before being renamed as the Sheboygan Red Skins in the NBL, to which they were admitted as a syndicate team due to their performance against Hall of Fame teams in the New York Renaissance and even the Harlem Globetrotters! After a bad first NBL season, they revamped themselves with a new coach, and later a new arena to help them not only enter the finals, but even win a championship in 1943. After that, they ended up entering a finals a few more times and even joined the playoffs for a few more years afterwards, but they never could replicate the success found in that year. They were the second-longest team to ever play in the NBL and the team with the second-most NBL championship appearances, being only behind the also defunct Oshkosh All-Stars in each experiment. Unfortunately, they didn't fare so well once they moved to the NBA, despite starting out so well early in the 1949-50 NBA season. With the Red Skins playing in the smallest market and arena in professional basketball history (a 3,500 all-bleacher seat building meant more as an armory), it wouldn't really help Sheboygan's cause. After giving the Olympians a scare in the playoffs despite having a losing record, they withdrew to the aforementioned NPBL, where they posted the best NPBL record there (29-16). After that experiment, the Red Skins had one last chance in saving themselves and two other former NBA teams by creating a new ten-team league called the Western Basketball Association (WBA), but they realized how big the NBA was getting by then, and they ended up being an independent team for one year before folding altogether due to sparse crowds and the team losing to College All-Stars. If this team were still around to this day, however, their team name would be rife with controversy similar to what happened with the Washington "Football Team" and likely would require a name change in the modern-day era due to the cultural insensitivity relating to their team name. In fact, this is the only former NBA team that the league itself doesn't hold a copyright on because of the team name being considered insensitive toward the Native American population.
  • The St. Louis Bombers (1946-1950) were the NBA's first attempt at having a team in St. Louis, as well as an original 11 NBA team. When the NBA was the BAA, they did pretty good, with the team always entering the playoffs, but losing in either the quarterfinals or the semifinals. When the BAA changed into the NBA, however, they never were the same, as the Bombers suffered a losing record that resulted in the team folding afterwards, despite them having star guys in Grady Lewis and Ed Macauley around.
  • The Toronto Huskies (1946-47) were the NBA's first attempt at bringing in a Canadian basketball team, as well as being an original 11 NBA team. They were the losing team of the first ever NBA game, they played at the Maple Leaf Gardens, and they ended up holding four different coaches in their only season, one of which didn't win a game at all. They also had a famous promotion gimmick in the first game ever played by giving anyone who was taller than the Huskies' tallest player (6'8" C George Nostrand) free admission. With a lack of organization, a lack of talented players, and odd promotions found (i.e., free stockings for all women in attendance), the franchise ended up folding after their only season. Despite the flaws, they're still remembered just like the Chicago Stags by having the Toronto Raptors wear the Huskies' old jerseys for 6 games in the 2009-10 season. However, unlike the Stags, the Huskies have a movement where loyal Huskies fans want to see the Raptors abolished and replaced with the old Huskies name, and they apparently made a bit of a mark with the Raptors keeping the retro jerseys beyond that season, the Raptors' official website holding a Toronto Huskies banner, and one game even had the team referred to as the Huskies instead of the Raptors. However, recent success made by the Raptors makes a change highly unlikely now. They also made a 75th anniversary game on that date occur between the two teams there, though the Raptors will be playing in the Madison Square Garden instead due to real life conflicts.
  • The Washington Capitols (1946-1951) were the NBA's first attempt at having a team in the U.S.A.'s capital. They're also not only an original 11 NBA team, but they also were the former head coaching team of famous head coach Red Auerbach (who went to an improving Tri-Cities Blackhawks team for a year before finally coaching the Boston Celtics) and it does show since they were one of two former NBA teams to lose in the NBA Finals. After the Capitols lost Red as their head coach, they never were the same, as they kept losing and losing until the Capitols ended up folding in January 1951 with a record of 10-25. Also, they shouldn't be confused with the current hockey team that spells their name as "Capitals", nor should they be confused with the ABA team that abbreviated their name as "Caps" in their sole season there.
  • The Waterloo Hawks (1948-1951) were the only major sports franchise to ever hold a permanent home somewhere in Iowa.note  The original Hawks team started out as a more-or-less average team when they were in the NBL for their only season there. When they moved to the NBA, however, they did a horrible job there, with complaints regarding them (alongside a couple other teams) as an area of "bush league" quality from the bigger teams there, like in Philadelphia or New York. When the Hawks finally moved to the NPBL, they actually were a good team, setting out a 32-24 record there. Unfortunately for the Hawks (as well as the Anderson Packers, original Denver Nuggets turned Refiners turned Evansville Agogans, and the Sheboygan Red Skins), the NPBL failed without a champion truly being awarded, and the Hawks soon folded afterwards.

Additionally, the BAA had planned on creating some new Buffalo and Indianapolis teams for the BAA only in their first season. However, due in part to the then-upcoming NBL-BAA merger, those plans were permanently scrapped.note 

    NBA Champions 
In the NBA, there have been many different champions and there have been many different rules in the NBA over the years. However, over half of the championships were won by either the Boston Celtics or the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers. Furthermore, of the last 30+ seasons, only nine teams have won championships, as compared to 16 and 17 in the NFL and MLB, denoting greater trends in dominance in this league.

While the NBA doesn't consider the championships that were won in the NBL or the ABA as "real" championships, we do.note  Here's what had happened over the years in the NBA.

The NBL & BAA Years (Note: bolded years represent the NBL; italic years represent the BAA.)

  • 1937-38: Akron Goodyear Wingfoots won over the Oshkosh All-Stars 2-1.
  • 1938-39: Akron Firestone Non-Skids won over the Oshkosh All-Stars 3-2.
  • 1939-1940: Akron Firestone Non-Skids won over the Oshkosh All-Stars 3-2.
  • 1940-41: The Oshkosh All-Stars swept the Sheboygan Red Skins 3-0.
  • 1941-42: The Oshkosh All-Stars won over the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 2-1.
  • 1942-43: Sheboygan Red Skins won over the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 2-1.
  • 1943-44: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons swept the Sheboygan Red Skins 3-0.
  • 1944-45: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons won over the Sheboygan Red Skins 3-2.
  • 1945-46: Rochester Royals swept the Sheboygan Red Skins 3-0.
  • 1946-47: Chicago American Gears won over the Rochester Royals 3-2.
  • 1946-47: Philadelphia Warriors won over the Chicago Stags 4-1.
  • 1947-48: Minneapolis Lakers won over the Rochester Royals 3-1.
  • 1947-48: Baltimore Bullets won over the Philadelphia Warriors 4-2.
  • 1948-49: Anderson Duffey Packers swept the Oshkosh All-Stars 3-0.
  • 1948-49: Minneapolis Lakers won over the Washington Capitols 4-2.

After the BAA-NBL Merger: Minneapolis Domination

  • 1949-1950: Minneapolis Lakers won over the Syracuse Nationals 4-2.
  • 1950-51: Rochester Royals won over the New York Knicks 4-3.
  • 1951-52: Minneapolis Lakers won over the New York Knicks 4-3.
  • 1952-53: Minneapolis Lakers won over the New York Knicks 4-1.
  • 1953-54: Minneapolis Lakers won over the Syracuse Nationals 4-3.

The Shot-Clock Years: Boston Domination

  • 1954-55: Syracuse Nationals won over the Fort Wayne Pistons 4-3.
  • 1955-56: Philadelphia Warriors won over the Fort Wayne Pistons 4-1.
  • 1956-57: Boston Celtics won over the St. Louis Hawks 4-3.
  • 1957-58: St. Louis Hawks won over the Boston Celtics 4-2.
  • 1958-59: Boston Celtics swept the Minneapolis Lakers 4-0.
  • 1959-1960: Boston Celtics won over the St. Louis Hawks 4-3.
  • 1960-61: Boston Celtics won over the St. Louis Hawks 4-1.
  • 1961-62: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3.
  • 1962-63: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2.
  • 1963-64: Boston Celtics won over the San Francisco Warriors 4-1
  • 1964-65: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
  • 1965-66: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3.
  • 1966-67: Philadelphia 76ers won over the San Francisco Warriors 4-2.

NBA-ABA Rivalry (ABA years are bolded, ABA teams that joined the NBA are italicized.)

  • 1967-68: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2.
  • 1967-68: Pittsburgh Pipers won over the New Orleans Buccaneers 4-3.
  • 1968-69: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3.
  • 1968-69: Oakland Oaks won over the Indiana Pacers 4-1.
  • 1969-1970: New York Knicks won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3.
  • 1969-1970: Indiana Pacers won over the Los Angeles Stars 4-2.
  • 1970-71: Milwaukee Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets 4-0.
  • 1970-71: Utah Stars won over the Kentucky Colonels 4-3.
  • 1971-72: Los Angeles Lakers won over the New York Knicks 4-1.
  • 1971-72: Indiana Pacers won over the New York Nets 4-2.
  • 1972-73: New York Knicks won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
  • 1972-73: Indiana Pacers won over the Kentucky Colonels 4-3.
  • 1973-74: Boston Celtics won over the Milwaukee Bucks 4-3.
  • 1973-74: New York Nets won over the Utah Stars 4-1.
  • 1974-75: Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets 4-0
  • 1974-75: Kentucky Colonels won over the Indiana Pacers 4-1.
  • 1975-76: Boston Celtics won over the Phoenix Suns 4-2.
  • 1975-76: New York Nets won over the Denver Nuggets 4-2.
  • 1976-77: Portland Trail Blazers won over the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2. (The year of the NBA-ABA merger)
  • 1977-78: Washington Bullets won over the Seattle SuperSonics 4-3.
  • 1978-79: Seattle SuperSonics won over the Washington Bullets 4-1.

The 80s: Larry Bird Vs. Magic Johnson

  • 1979-1980: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2.
  • 1980-81: Boston Celtics won over the Houston Rockets 4-2.
  • 1981-82: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Philadelphia 76ers 4-2.
  • 1982-83: Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0.
  • 1983-84: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-3.
  • 1984-85: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Boston Celtics 4-2.
  • 1985-86: Boston Celtics won over the Houston Rockets 4-2.
  • 1986-87: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Boston Celtics 4-2.
  • 1987-88: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Detroit Pistons 4-3.
  • 1988-89: Detroit Pistons swept the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0.
  • 1989-1990: Detroit Pistons won over the Portland Trail Blazers 4-1.

The 90s: The Reign of Michael Jordan

  • 1990-91: Chicago Bulls won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
  • 1991-92: Chicago Bulls won over the Portland Trail Blazers 4-2.
  • 1992-93: Chicago Bulls won over the Phoenix Suns 4-2.
  • 1993-94: Houston Rockets won over the New York Knicks 4-3.
  • 1994-95: Houston Rockets swept the Orlando Magic 4-0.
  • 1995-96: Chicago Bulls won over the Seattle SuperSonics 4-2.
  • 1996-97: Chicago Bulls won over the Utah Jazz 4-2.
  • 1997-98: Chicago Bulls won over the Utah Jazz 4-2.

The 2000s: Kobe, Tim and the Wild West

  • (1998-)99: San Antonio Spurs won over the New York Knicks 4-1
  • 1999-2000: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Indiana Pacers 4-2.
  • 2000-01: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1.
  • 2001-02: Los Angeles Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets 4-0.
  • 2002-03: San Antonio Spurs won over the New Jersey Nets 4-2.
  • 2003-04: Detroit Pistons won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
  • 2004-05: San Antonio Spurs won over the Detroit Pistons 4-3.
  • 2005-06: Miami Heat won over the Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
  • 2006-07: San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0.
  • 2007-08: Boston Celtics won over the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2.
  • 2008-09: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Orlando Magic 4-1.
  • 2009-2010: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Boston Celtics 4-3.

The 2010s: LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry

  • 2010-11: Dallas Mavericks won over the Miami Heat 4-2.
  • 2011-12: Miami Heat won over the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1.
  • 2012-13: Miami Heat won over the San Antonio Spurs 4-3.
  • 2013-14: San Antonio Spurs won over the Miami Heat 4-1.
  • 2014-15: Golden State Warriors won over the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2.
  • 2015-16: Cleveland Cavaliers won over the Golden State Warriors 4-3.
  • 2016-17: Golden State Warriors won over the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1.
  • 2017-18: Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0.
  • 2018-19: Toronto Raptors won over the Golden State Warriors 4-2.
  • 2019-20: Los Angeles Lakers won over the Miami Heat 4-2.

The 2020s: Giannis, Luka, and more to come

  • 2020-21: Milwaukee Bucks won over the Phoenix Suns 4-2.

    G League 
The NBA G League (known as National Basketball Development League prior to 2005 and as the NBA Development League [or simply D-League] from 2005 until 2017; Gatorade acquired the naming rights to the league in 2017), is the NBA's official minor league basketball organization, founded in 2001. While at first it was common for the G League teams to be independently owned and affiliated with many franchises, all are now on a one-on-one basis with the major leaguers owning virtually all the minors. Most G League franchises are now also located relatively close to their parent club to make G League assignments and call ups easier. As of May 2021, the Suns and Trail Blazers are the only teams without their own G League affiliate, the former selling their rights to the Pistons.

For the 2020-21 G League season, due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the league conducted an abbreviated season in a single-site "bubble", similar to the 2020 NBA playoffs and the 2020 WNBA season. Like the 2020 NBA playoffs, the 2021 G League bubble was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; however, 11 teams elected to opt out of the bubble and one team which was scheduled to join this season postponed their entry to the 2021-22 season.

Current teams (followed by affiliate)

  • Agua Caliente Clippers (Clippers): One of four new teams that launched in 2017; owned by the Clippers. Named for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians through a sponsorship deal. Plays in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California.
  • Austin Spurs (Spurs): Founded in 2001 as the Columbus (Georgia) Riverdragons, moved to the Texas capital in 2005 to become the Austin Toros. Have always been affiliated with San Antonio, who purchased the team in 2007 and renamed them seven years later.
  • Birmingham Squadron (Pelicans): In October 2018, the Pelicans announced plans to launch their G League team in Birmingham, Alabama after earlier efforts to start a team in the Gulf Coast region stalled, partly due to the death of Pelicans owner Tom Benson in March 2018. As the team's intended home venue, Legacy Arena, required renovations, the Pelicans temporarily placed their team in Erie, Pennsylvania, becoming the third (and final) team to assume the Erie BayHawks identity after the Hawks-owned G League affiliate, now known as the Skyhawks, moved to suburban Atlanta for the 2019-20 season. The Pelicans moved the team to Alabama for the 2021-22 season, and in July 2021, the team's name was revealed as the Squadron, which ties to both the Pelicans (as in a group of pelicans) and Alabama's rich military history.
  • Capital City Go-Go (Wizards): Began play in 2018 under the Wizards' ownership. They play in an arena in southeast DC that also serves as (1) the Wizards' main practice facility and (2) home to the WNBA's Mystics. The team is named for the R&B music genre that originated in DC's African-American community in the '60s and '70s.
  • Capitanes de Ciudad de Méxicotranslation  (unaffiliated): An existing team from Mexico's top professional basketball league, the Capitanes became the first Mexican team to join any US-based professional league. The team had initially planned to enter the league in the 2020-21 season; however, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitanes elected to postpone their entry in the G League to the 2021-22 season, though their inaugural G League season has them playing their games completely inside the U.S.A. as a result of the pandemic.
  • Cleveland Charge (Cavaliers): Founded as the Huntsville Flight in 2001 and later renamed Albuquerque/New Mexico Thunderbirds, were purchased in 2011 by the Cavs, who moved them to Canton, Ohio and rebranded as the Charge. In 2021, the Cavs moved the Charge to the campus of Cleveland State University after electing not to renew their arena lease in Canton.
  • College Park Skyhawks (Hawks): Another 2017 entry; originally planned to launch in 2019–20 in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, Georgia, the Hawks launched their franchise early, becoming the second incarnation of the Erie BayHawks, temporarily replacing the original franchise who had moved to central Florida, while their permanent arena in College Park was under construction. In May 2019, the Hawks announced that rapper and College Park native 2 Chainz would join the ownership group for the Skyhawks. The Skyhawks are the other G League team that shares its arena with a WNBA team; the Atlanta Dream moved in starting with that league's 2021 season.
  • Delaware Blue Coats (76ers): Formerly the 87ers, AKA "Sevens", with the name referring to the year Delaware ratified the US Constitution. Their new name and motif of a rider on horseback refer to a revolutionary soldier (opposite the British Redcoats). Founded as Utah Flash in 2007 and purchased by the Sixers and moved to Delaware in 2013. They originally played on the campus of the University of Delaware in Newark; however, with the rebranding, the Blue Coats moved to a new arena in nearby Wilmington.
  • Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): The Punny Name refers to the guy who named the city, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Being located in an Indiana city, have always been affiliated with the Pacers, but only in 2015 became a solo connection by the Pacers buying the team.
  • Grand Rapids Gold (Nuggets): Founded in 2006 as Anaheim Arsenal and later known as Springfield Armor; moved to Michigan in 2014, and earned another car piece name, the Drive. The Gold was one of the few remaining independently owned G League teams. In July 2020, the Pistons announced that their affiliation with Grand Rapids would end following the 2020-21 season after buying the rights to the Suns' G League team. Following Detroit's departure as their affiliate, Denver announced they would affiliate with the Grand Rapids team, which was then rebranded as the Gold.
  • Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Third team in North Carolina (following a defunct one in Fayetteville and a relocated one in Asheville).
  • Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Founded in 2007 as the Energy and based in the Iowa state capital of Des Moines, the team was purchased by the Timberwolves a decade later.
  • Lakeland Magic (Magic): Founded as the original Erie BayHawks in 2008, they were affiliated with the Cavs and Sixers, given this Pennsylvania city is between the two teams. Purchased by the Magic in 2017, and moved to Lakeland, Florida, roughly halfway between Orlando and Tampa.
  • Long Island Nets (Nets): Plays in the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, the former one-time home of the Nets (mostly during their ABA years) as well as the former longtime home of the NHL's Islanders.note  The G League Nets uses the parent club's classic color scheme of red, white, and blue rather than the current black and white.
  • Maine Celtics (Celtics): Based in Portland, Maine and formerly known as the Red Claws. The Red Claws had been an independently owned team affiliated with the Celtics since 2012. However, the Celtics bought the Red Claws in July 2019. In May 2021, the Red Claws were rebranded as the Maine Celtics; however, the lobster mascot is still retained, albeit recolored green.
  • Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Another 2017 entry, an expansion team purchased by the Grizzlies after their former affiliate, then the Iowa Energy, was bought by the Timberwolves. Plays in the Memphis suburb of Southaven, Mississippi. The Hustle uses the red and white color scheme of the ABA's Memphis Sounds rather than the Grizzlies' current blue and gold.
  • Motor City Cruise (Pistons): Founded as the Bakersfield Jam in 2006, were purchased by Phoenix a decade later and relocated to Prescott Valley and rebranded as the Northern Arizona Suns. In July 2020, the Detroit Pistons bought the franchise rights to the NAZ Suns from the Phoenix Suns, with plans to move the team to Detroit, which was rebranded as the Motor City Cruise, to play on the campus of Wayne State University starting in the 2021-22 season.
  • NBA G League Ignite (unaffiliated): They are the NBA G League's official developmental squad. This team only plays in exhibition games; however, the team participated in the 2021 bubble season and even competed in the Playoffs that year, though they lost in the first round that year.
  • Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Founded as the Asheville Altitude in 2001, relocated to Oklahoma in 2005 to become the Tulsa 66ers. As soon as the Thunder came to the state in 2008, the 66ers were purchased, and were eventually forced to move into a smaller OKC arena in 2014. In 2021, the Blue's arena was converted to a film studio, forcing the G League team to move into their parent club's arena for the time being.
  • Raptors 905 (Raptors): 905 is the main area code for the Greater Toronto Area outside of the city of Toronto propernote  - the team plays in Mississauga, Ontario, and like the parent company, it is currently the only team based in Canada.
  • Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Based in the urban area at the southernmost end of Texas, originally in Hidalgo but now in Edinburg. The Vipers have been solely affiliated with Houston since 2009, after two years of partnership. One of the few G League teams not fully owned by their NBA affiliate.
  • Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): Originally the Idaho Stampede, who begun play in 1997 on the now defunct Continent Basketball Association, joined the D-League in 2006 and were one decade later purchased by Utah, who relocated them to a smaller building in the same city they play. The team's name pays homage to the ABA's Utah Stars; the city's former WNBA team also paid homage to the original Stars.
  • Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Originally the Dakota Wizards, who were based in Bismarck, North Dakota, begun in 1995 and were in both the CBA and the International Basketball Association before joining the D-League in 2006. Golden State purchased them in 2011, and one year later moved the team to California.
  • Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat): Actually dates back to 1989, having also played in the IBA and CBA. In 2017, the Heat purchased a controlling stake in the franchise; however, there are presently no plans to relocate the Skyforce from South Dakota.
  • South Bay Lakers (Lakers): Originally known as the Los Angeles D-Fenders, they are the first G League team owned by a NBA franchise; plays in the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo.
  • Stockton Kings (Kings): Founded as the Reno Bighorns in 2008, and affiliated with the Kings since their inception, though also holding affiliations with six other teams before becoming the Kings' sole affiliate in 2013. The Kings purchased the Bighorns outright during the 2016–17 season, and at the end of the 2017–18 season announced that they would move the Bighorns to Stockton, California, roughly an hour south of Sacramento, rebranding the G League team as the Kings in the process.
  • Texas Legends (Mavericks): Began as the Colorado 14ers in 2006, before the Mavs purchased them and relocated to the DFW city of Frisco in 2009. Notable for being the first men's professional basketball team to hire a woman as head coach.
  • Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Plays just north of NYC, in White Plains. They originally used a modernized version of the "Father Knickerbocker" logo before switching to a logo similar to the parent club's. For two seasons, they shared their arena with the WNBA's New York Liberty, but that arrangement ended after the WNBA's 2019 season, when Nets owner Joseph Tsai, who had bought the Liberty before that season, moved the team into the Nets' home of Barclays Center. For 2021-22, the team will temporarily move to Bridgeport, Connecticut, as their regular arena is being used as a COVID vaccination site.
  • Windy City Bulls (Bulls): Started play in 2016 in the northwest suburb of Hoffman Estates.
  • Wisconsin Herd (Bucks): Started play in 2017 in Oshkosh, roughly halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay.


  • 2002: Greenville Groove (defunct team)
  • 2003: Mobile Revelers (defunct team)
  • 2004 and 2005: Asheville Altitude (current Oklahoma City Blue)
  • 2006: Albuquerque Thunderbirds (current Cleveland Charge)
  • 2007: Dakota Wizards (current Santa Cruz Warriors)
  • 2008: Idaho Stampede (current Salt Lake City Stars)
  • 2009: Colorado 14ers (current Texas Legends)
  • 2010: Rio Grande Valley Vipers
  • 2011: Iowa Energy (current Iowa Wolves)
  • 2012: Austin Toros (current Austin Spurs)
  • 2013: Rio Grande Valley Vipers
  • 2014: Fort Wayne Mad Ants
  • 2015: Santa Cruz Warriors (same year Golden State won the major league)
  • 2016: Sioux Falls Skyforce
  • 2017: Raptors 905
  • 2018: Austin Spurs
  • 2019: Rio Grande Valley Vipers
  • 2020: Playoffs canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • 2021: Lakeland Magic
  • 2021: Rio Grande Valley Vipers


After the regular season, a number of different awards are given out to those who excelled in some aspect of the game. Most of these awards are determined by voting by a panel of American and Canadian media members. Note that unlike MLB awards, most of which are voted on only by sportswriters, the voting panel for the NBA awards (except as noted) specifically includes broadcasters. In addition, there are two more awards—one involving the All-Star Game, and the other for the NBA Finals. The 2016–17 season was the first in which the NBA held an awards banquet after the playoffs, with almost all of the winners being announced and recognized during that event. Previously, the season-based awards were all presented during the playoffs. However, because of COVID-19 disruptions, no banquet was held for the 2019–20 season; awards were announced and presented during the playoffs. The NBA has yet to return to the award-show format.

The specific awards are as follows. The "most recent winners" are from 2022 unless otherwise indicated. Team affiliations reflect those in the season for which the award was presented.

  • The Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is given to the player who is considered to have been the top performer of the regular season. There are no restrictions on who can be named MVP, but it almost always goes to a player from a team that made the playoffs. Only two MVPs in the last 35 years (2017 winner Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokić in his second MVP season in 2022) played on a team that won fewer than 50 games in a regular season that wasn't shortened by labor issues or COVID-19. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for most MVP awards with six; Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have five each. Kareem and Wilt are two of the four players who have won this award with two different franchises, with Moses Malone and LeBron James being the others.
    • Most Recent Winner: Nikola Jokić, C, Nuggets
  • The Rookie of the Year Award is given to the rookie who is considered to have had the best season. Though a rookie is generally defined as a first-year player, he doesn't necessarily have to be. As long as the player enters the current season without having played in the NBA, he is considered to be in his rookie season. Experience in leagues outside the NBA is not counted against a player; unlike baseball, which has experienced controversy due to Japanese-born players winning that sport's award despite having prior professional experience in Japanese baseball, there has been little if any controversy over eligibility of former foreign professionals. Then again, only two players with foreign pro experience have been named Rookie of the Year: Pau Gasol in 2002 and Luka Dončić in 2019. And both were of typical NBA rookie age when they won (Gasol just shy of 22, and Dončić 20).
    • Most Recent Winner: Scottie Barnes, SG/SF, Raptors
  • The Defensive Player of the Year Award is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace have the most awards, each with four.
    • Most Recent Winner: Marcus Smart, PG, Celticsnote 
  • The Most Improved Player of the Year Award is also Exactly What It Says on the Tin. There are no specific guidelines on who can win, but it usually goes to a player who takes a sudden jump from "who the heck is he?" to "he's actually pretty good". Or (as with 2017 winner Giannis Antetokounmpo or 2022 winner Ja Morant) it goes to a new member of the league's elite.
    • Most Recent Winner: Ja Morant, PG/SG, Grizzlies
  • The Sixth Man of the Year Award goes to the best bench player of the regular season. Players who started in more games than they played strictly as a substitute are ineligible. Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams have the most awards with three each. Two players have won this award and been named MVP—Bill Walton (MVP, 1977; Sixth Man, 1986) and James Harden (Sixth Man, 2012; MVP, 2018).
    • Most Recent Winner: Tyler Herro, SG, Heat
  • The NBA Hustle Award is one of the league's newest awards, first presented for the 2016–17 season. It's the only NBA award to be determined solely by statistical criteria. All players who played at least 50 regular-season games and averaged 15 or more minutes are eligible. The award is determined by analysis of five "hustle" stats that the league collects: "screen assists" (screens that lead directly to baskets), deflections, loose balls recovered, charges taken, and shots contested. Each eligible player is compared against players at his position (center, forward, guard) in each statistic on a per-minute basis. A metric then establishes his performance against his positional peers for each statistic, with the five results then summed to determine the final winner.
    • Most Recent Winner (2021): Thaddeus Young, PF, Bulls
  • The Coach of the Year Award goes to the top head coach of the regular season. There are no specific guidelines for who can win, but the award typically goes to the manager of a team who achieved surprising success, usually a team that was expected to finish low in the standings but ended up competing for a title. The record for most wins is three, held by Don Nelson, Pat Riley, and Gregg Popovich. Riley is the only coach to have won the award with three different franchises (Lakers, Knicks, Heat). Several other coaches (Nelson among them) have won with two franchises, but Hubie Brown might be the most notable among them because he won his two awards 26 years apart (1978 and 2004).
    • Most Recent Winner: Monty Williams, Suns
  • The Executive of the Year Award goes to the season's top general manager. Unlike the other season awards, media members play no role in the voting; the league's GMs vote instead. There are no specific guidelines for who can win, but the award typically goes to the GM of a contending team. Former Suns GM Jerry Colangelo has the most awards, with four. (And, incidentally, his son Bryan has two of his own.) Three individuals have won with two different franchises—Bob Bass (Spurs, Hornets), Jerry West (Lakers, Grizzlies), and the younger Colangelo (Suns, Raptors).
    • Most Recent Winner: Zach Klieman, Grizzlies
Another group of awards based mainly on non-playing criteria is handed out. Each has a different voting procedure from the seasonal awards.
  • The NBA Sportsmanship Award goes to the player viewed as the league's most sportsmanlike. Similar to the Lady Byng Award in the NHL, although unlike that award it does not demand excellence of play. Each NBA team nominates a player, with a screening committee selecting one finalist from each NBA division. The final voting body is the league's players. The winner receives the Joe Dumars Trophy, named for the award's first recipient. Grant Hill and Mike Conley have the most awards, with three each.
  • The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named after the league's second commissioner, is presented for outstanding community service. Unlike all other NBA awards, it is not restricted to players, coaches, or GMs—any employee of an NBA team is eligible for the award. However, it has only been awarded twice to non-players (once each to a coach and a trainer). Voted on exclusively by sportswriters. The only two-time winner is Mutombo. It's the only season-based award whose winner is not announced at the end-of-season awards banquet.
    • Most Recent Winner (2020): Malcolm Brogdon, PG, Pacers
  • Another community service award, the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, is presented at the awards banquet. It started out as a monthly award program, but a season-long award was added in 2011–12, and the seasonal award is now the only one presented. Unlike the Kennedy Award, the winner is determined by the league itself. The 2019-20 season was unique in that five winners were named.
    • Most Recent Winner: Devin Booker, SG, Suns
  • The Twyman–Stokes Teammate of the Year Award (see the Sacramento Kings folder in the "Notable Players" page for an explanation of its namesakes) is presented to the player viewed as the league's "ideal teammate". A panel of NBA legends nominates six players from each conference, with the league's players then casting votes to determine the winner.
    • Most Recent Winner: Jrue Holiday, PG, Bucks
  • The NBA Lifetime Achievement Award is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It was also first presented after the 2016–17 season, and its recipient is chosen by the league itself.
    • Most Recent Winners (2019): Larry Bird & Magic Johnson
  • The Sager Strong Award, also first presented after the 2016–17 season and determined by the league, is named after Craig Sager, who had been the longtime sideline reporter for Turner's NBA coverage until his death from cancer in 2016. According to the league, it goes to an "individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace." The actual award is unique—instead of a trophy or plaque, it's a distinctive suit jacket, a replica of one that Sager wore while making an iconic acceptance speech for the Jimmy V Award at the 2016 ESPY Awards.
    • Most Recent Winner (2019): Robin Robertsnote 
  • The NBA's newest award is the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award, first presented after the 2020–21 season and named after the Bucks and Lakers legend whose involvement with social issues dates to the 1960s civil rights movement. Each team nominates one player for consideration, with a panel of NBA greats, league executives, and social justice leaders narrowing the list to five finalists and then to the recipient. Somewhat similar to the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, though that award honors charitable work in general and is not limited to social justice issues.
    • Inaugural Winner (2021): Carmelo Anthony, SF, Portland Trail Blazers
Finally, the other two awards:
  • The NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player is just that. Like the seasonal playing awards, voted on by the media, in this case immediately after the game so that the trophy can be handed out in the postgame festivities. Bob Pettit and Kobe Bryant (for whom the award was named after his tragic death in January 2020) have the record for most awards, each with four.
    • Most Recent Winner: Stephen Curry, SG, Warriors
  • The Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award honors the best performer in the NBA Finals. Russell's name was added to the award in 2009, honoring his record 11 NBA titles as a player. Almost always goes to a player on the championship team—the only player on the losing team ever to win the award was the Lakers' Jerry West in 1969, the first time it was awarded. Michael Jordan has the most awards with six. LeBron James, with four wins, is the only player to have won the award with three different franchises (Heat, Cavs, Lakers); Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kawhi Leonard have won with two franchises.
    • Most Recent Winner (2021): Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/SF, Bucks


Also after the regular season, all-league teams are chosen honoring the best players in three different categories. Recipients listed here are from the 2020–21 season.
    All-NBA Team 
The best players in the league. The honor dates back to the first season of the BAA in 1947. The number of players on the team has varied over time:
  • From 1947 to 1955, it consisted of 10 players divided into two teams, without regard to position.
  • From 1956 to 1988, the same number of players were honored, but positions were taken into account—each team consisted of one center, two forwards, and two guards.
  • Since 1989, it has consisted of 15 players divided into three teams, with the same positional restrictions.
A team may be expanded in the case of ties in voting; this applies to the other honors listed below. All teams are listed in order of points received in voting.
  • First Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks; Nikola Jokić, C, Nuggets; Stephen Curry, G, Warriors; Luka Dončić, G, Mavericks; Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers
  • Second Team: Damian Lillard, G, Blazers; Joel Embiid, C, Sixers; Chris Paul, G, Suns; Julius Randle, F, Knicks; LeBron James, F, Lakers
  • Third Team: Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz; Jimmy Butler, F, Heat; Paul George, F, Clippers; Bradley Beal, G, Wizards; Kyrie Irving, G, Nets
    All-Defensive Team 
Exactly What It Says on the Tin. First presented in 1969, with the league's head coaches voting; coaches could not vote for players on their own teams. Starting in 2014, the voting body changed to media.note  Throughout the history of the award, 10 players have been chosen, divided into two teams without regard to position.
  • First Team: Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz; Ben Simmons, G, Sixers; Draymond Green, F, Warriors; Jrue Holiday, G, Bucks; Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks
  • Second Team: Bam Adebayo, F, Heat; Jimmy Butler, G, Heat; Joel Embiid, C, Sixers; Matisse Thybulle, G, Sixers; Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers
    All-Rookie Team 
Also Exactly What It Says on the Tin; first presented in 1963. The league's head coaches have been the voting body throughout the history of the award. Coaches cannot vote for their own players. Throughout the history of the award, 10 players have been chosen, divided into two teams without regard to position.
  • First Team: LaMelo Ball, G, Grizzlies; Anthony Edwards, G, Timberwolves; Tyrese Haliburton, G, Kings; Saddiq Bey, F, Pistons; Jae'Sean Tate, G, Rockets
  • Second Team: Immanuel Quickley, G, Knicks; Desmond Bane, G, Grizzlies; Isaiah Stewart, F, Pistons; Isaac Okoro, F, Cavaliers; Patrick Williams, F, Bulls

Notable Players

The NBA has so many players of note throughout its history that they had to be put on their own page.

Notable Coaches, Executives, and Other Figures

The list of big names in NBA history doesn't stop with players. The league has also been home to many famous coaches, executives, announcers, superfans, etc. through the years.

  • Red Auerbach was a legendary coach of the early NBA, coaching for the Washington Capitols and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (now the Atlanta Hawks, and with whom Auerbach drafted Chuck Cooper, the first African-American player in the NBA) before joining the Boston Celtics, which he led from 1950-66. Auerbach pioneered the role of the modern basketball coach, and redefined the game to emphasize the team as opposed to the individual, and he was the first coach to develop his players into role players and "sixth man" bench players. He also innovated the fast break strategy, one of only seven plays he ever used. During his tenure with the Celtics, Auerbach won nine titles and 936 games (both records when he retired which have since been surpassed). After retirement, the Celtics made Auerbach their general manager and then president, a position he held until his death in 2006.
  • Phil Jackson is the NBA coach with the most championship titles, winning 11 in over the course of his 33-year career (and that's not even including the two he won as a player for the New York Knicks in the 1970s). Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls from 1989-98, leading the Michael Jordan-fronted squad to both of their three-peats. His tenure in Chicago would have been enough to get him in the Hall of Fame, but he switched teams to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999 and won five more championships with teams led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. Jackson based his coaching techniques on Eastern zen philosophy, earning him the nickname "The Zen Master." He had a winning record every year he was head coach for a team and is one of only six coaches to accumulate over 1,000 wins. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2007 while he was still coaching the Lakers and retired in 2011.
  • Steve Kerr is the current coach of the Golden State Warriors and an accomplished figure in multiple aspects of the league. The child of American academics specializing in the Middle East, Kerr grew up abroad before going to play ball at Arizona. As a freshmen, he played one of the most memorable non-tournament college games ever when he led his team to victory shortly after his father was murdered by terrorists in Beirut. He would later compete in the final USA FIBA championship team comprised purely of amateurs; while the team won gold, he blew out his knee in what is often a Career-Ending Injury. The point guard eventually recovered, finished his college eligibility, and was drafted in the second round in 1988 by the Phoenix Suns. After bouncing around several teams, he landed with the Chicago Bulls in 1993, winning three championships with the star-laden team before being traded to the San Antonio Spurs in '98, where he won another two prior to his retirement in '03. He entered into broadcasting for several years, with a break to serve as the Suns GM from 2007-10. Kerr was hired to be the Warriors' HC in 2014, kicking off a remarkable stretch in which the team won three championships, appeared in five Finals, and set the NBA record for most wins in a season in 2015-16 (though he actually missed significant time in many of those seasons due to recurring back issues).
  • Gregg Popovich is the longest-serving active head coach in American pro sports, having served that role for the San Antonio Spurs since 1996. In that time, Popovich has amassed the most wins and most consecutive winning seasons of any HC in the league's history, shaping the Spurs into the league's most consistent winners and bringing San Antonio five championships. He is one of the most highly respected figures in the NBA, with his nickname "Coach Pop" reflecting his reputation as A Father to His Men as much as abbreviating his name. His coaching philosophy has shaped a good amount of current head coaches in the NBA, including the two coaches that led their teams to competing in the 2021 NBA Finals (Mike Budenholzer & Monty Williams), and he also led the 2020 Olympic team to winning a gold medal in Tokyo despite a shaky start early on.

  • Without Danny Biasone and Leo Ferris, the NBA might not have survived the 1950s.
    • Biasone was an Italian immigrant who grew up in Syracuse, New York, becoming a successful businessman and founding owner of the Syracuse Nationals (today's Philadelphia 76ers) of the Basketball Association of America (the main predecessor to the NBA). The early years of the NBA saw many games degenerate into stall-fests, with the most infamous being a 19–18 game (not a misprint!) in 1950. Biasone knew something had to change, which is where Ferris came in.
    • Ferris, also a successful businessman, was the founder and owner of the Buffalo Bisons (later Tri-Cities Blackhawks; today's Atlanta Hawks) in the BAA's rival, the National Basketball League. He soon became president of the NBL with one mandate from the league's owners: force a merger with the BAA. Ferris convinced the NBL owners to outbid the BAA for top college players, and then came up with the idea of giving an entire team (specifically the Indianapolis Olympians) to a group of prominent college players, namely Kentucky's "Fabulous Five" of the late 1940s (actually, four of them plus their sixth man). That move led to the merger of the two leagues in 1949. He then went on to become Biasone's general manager in Syracuse, where together they devised the modern 24-second shot clock. That led to an immediate increase in scoring and fan interest, securing the league's survival and setting the stage for its future growth. Interestingly, while Biasone is remembered in basketball history for this innovation—to the point that he's in the Hall of Fame—newspaper accounts of the day gave more credit to Ferris. On top of that, Ferris' role in the creation of the NBA was also widely covered at the time. However, Ferris left basketball for good just a few months before the shot clock was introduced, and by the time his contributions were becoming recognized, he was suffering from Huntington's disease, an incurable and fatal genetic neurological disorder. Ferris didn't even get nominated for the Hall until the late 2010s, and still isn't in. This story provides a good overview of Ferris' contributions.
  • David Stern may be the most influential figure in the modern history of the NBA. He made his first major impact on the league as a young attorney for the NBA's law firm, when he negotiated a settlement of the Oscar Robertson lawsuit that paved the way for player free agency. He would move into the NBA front office in 1978, where he helped institute the league's first player drug testing program and successfully negotiated its first salary cap. After these successes, he became commissioner in early 1984, the same year that saw four of the league's marquee players for the next two decades enter—Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. When Stern's tenure started, the league had just come out of a decade-long Dork Age, but by the middle of the 2000s, the league had expanded to 30 teams and had a major TV presence throughout the world. However, some decisions he made throughout his tenure made him a controversial as the commissioner of the NBA, both in terms of the business aspect and decisions that influenced certain games from that time. Even so, he retired in 2014 with the NBA firmly cemented as one of the world's most financially successful leagues, and its players having the highest average salaries of any league in any world sport (though the small size of NBA rosters relative to those of other major sports did help contribute to that). He became a Naismith Hall of Fame member later in 2014, passing on New Year's Day 2020.
    • Stern's successor, Adam Silver, has proven to be no slouch at his position either. Silver first started as the COO and vice chairman under Stern's tenure before taking over for Stern in February 2014... and he let his impact become almost immediately known when he had the gumption to permanently ban former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA for life during the 2014 NBA Playoffs after racist comments against African Americans got leaked to the public. (For reference, Stern never seriously considered going as far as banning Sterling for the major problems he gave the franchise despite constant complaints from many different people in the league. Furthermore, as of at least the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend, no other NBA owner has faced a permanent banning from the league.) Not only that, but he helped bring up public support for legalized, regulated sports betting entering the 21st century during that same period of time, which further brought up the notion of taking a more progressive approach for the NBA. He also looked to fix problems relating to the competitive nature of the sport during the 2010's both in terms of teams losing games (presumably) on purpose to gain a higher pick for (hopefully) better talents to improve themselves and with other teams not competing as hard as teams like Miami during their Big 3 era, Golden State, Cleveland (with LeBron James back), and Houston (with James Harden) were with an improved lottery system being implemented in 2019 and a play-in tournament for some final playoff spots being improvised a year later. However, Silver has also faced a fair share of negative press with regards to the league's controversy with China before starting their 2019-20 season... which grew even worse once the COVID-19 Pandemic started affecting the league itself. Despite that PR nightmare scenario, Silver has continued to make a positive impact on the sport, easily being the most respected commissioner of the Big 4 sports leagues in the U.S.A. throughout his time in that position of power.

    Other Figures 
  • Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and is one of the most famous sports team owners in the United States, typically being better known than the coach or most of the players on the current Mavericks squad. Cuban bought the team in 2000 after he sold his internet start-up to Yahoo! for billions in stock. He is known as a hands-on owner, and sits in the stands with fans every game as opposed to watching it from a private skybox. Cuban's exuberant personality and regular proximity to the court means he's gotten in trouble a bunch with the league, and has been fined millions for his critical statements and confrontations with players and referees.
  • Chick Hearn was the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1965 until his death in 2002, broadcasting for a record 3,338 consecutive games. Hearn was famous for his enthusiastic delivery style and for coining several quirky neologisms and catchphrases during his broadcasts, including some that later became standard basketball terminology like "slam dunk" and "air ball". The year after his death, Hearn became the first broadcaster to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor.
  • Al McCoy is currently the radio play-by-play announcer for the Phoenix Suns, taking on broadcasting roles for the team either on the radio or local TV starting in 1972, continuing in what will currently be his 50th season doing so. McCoy has rarely missed broadcasting duties for the Suns, missing only one game on New Year's Eve in 2005 before facing some limitations in more recent years. Like Chick Hearn before him (as seen above), McCoy is also well-known for his own catchphrases and colloquiums that happen during games ("Shazam!", "Zing go the strings!", "Wham Bam Slam!", etc.), as well as creating nicknames for certain Suns players during their times there. McCoy won the Curt Gowdy Media Award for the NBA in 2007 and was induced in both the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Iowa Hall of Pride in 2015 before being induced into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor in 2016, confirming he'll continue going on with his position as long as he's able to keep on going.

Alternative Title(s): NBA