National Basketball Association Championship History

nba

The NBA was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). By 1949 they adopted the name of National Basketball Association (NBA) after merging with their rivals; the National Basketball league (NBL). Throughout NBA history teams have moved a lot causing divisions and conferences to be shuffled around as well as a lot of name changes. Right now, we are at 30 teams, 2 conferences, 3 divisions in each conference and 5 teams in each division.

 

NBA CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY

ATLANTIC DIVISION

CENTRAL DIVISION

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

PACIFIC DIVISION

NORTHWEST DIVISION

SOUTHWEST DIVISION

Below, you will find a calendar of key NBA events for the year, followed by each team with their division, title history, origin, and other key accomplishments as well as a link in their name to their respective sites.

  • JUNE; NBA championship is awarded and draft process starts for the next season
  • JULY; Free agency begins
  • AUGUST; Rookie Camp starts
  • SEPTEMBER; Training Camp and preseason starts
  • OCTOBER; Preseason ends and regular season starts
  • NOVEMBER-MARCH; Regular season games continue
  • APRIL; Regular season ends, playoffs start. 
  • MAY; Playoffs/Finals


 

BOSTON CELTICS

Celtics were established in 1946 and named after the legendary, Original Celtics, which played in the ABL during the 1920s and 1930s, it was also in hope of attracting fans from the city’s large Irish population.

  • 17 time NBA champions; 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008
  • 21 NBA Final appearances; 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 2008, 2010
  • 34 Conference final appearances; 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2017
  • 31 division titles; 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986,1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017

BROOKLYN NETS

Nets were established in 2012 but played formerly as New Jersey Americans in 1967 and New York Nets from 1968-1977 in the ABA, and then in NBA as the New Jersey Nets from 1977-2012. They got the name when first moving to New York to rhyme with the other pro teams; Mets (MLB) and Jets (NFL).

  • 2 time ABA/NBA champions; 1974, 1976
  • 5 ABA/NBA Final appearances; 1972, 1974, 1976, 2002, 2003
  • 2 Conference final appearances; 2002, 2003
  • 5 division titles; 1974, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

NEW YORK KNICKS

Knicks were established in 1946 and got their name from Knickerbockers, which is a term that traces back to the Dutch settlers to what is now New York in the 1600s, which refers to the style of pants the settlers wore, that rolled up just below the knee.

  • 2 time NBA champions; 1970, 1973
  • 8 NBA Final appearances; 1951, 1952, 1953, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1994, 1999
  • 16 Conference final appearances; 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000
  • 8 division titles; 1953, 1954, 1970, 1971, 1989, 1993, 1994, 2013

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

76ers were established in 1963 but played formerly as the Syracuse Nationals for NBL from 1946-194 and NBA from 1950-1963. The name was selected from a name the team contest, submitted in honor of Philadelphia’s roll in the Declaration of Independence, in 1776.

  • 3 time NBA champions; 1955, 1967, 1983
  • 9 NBA Final appearances; 1950, 1954, 1955, 1967, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983, 2001
  • 21 Conference final appearances; 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 2001
  • 11 division titles; 1950, 1952, 1955, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1990, 2001

TORONTO RAPTORS

Raptors were established in 1995 as a new expansion team and got their name from a name the team contest, given that Jurrasic Park was huge at the time, it had great influence on the team’s new name.

  • 1 Conference final appearances; 2016
  • 4 division titles; 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016


central

CHICAGO BULLS

Bulls were established in 1966, and got their name representing the city’s livestock.

  • 6 time NBA champions; 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • 6 NBA Final appearances; 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • 11 Conference final appearances; 1974, 1975, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2011
  • 9 division titles; 1975,1991,1992,1993,1996, 1997, 1998, 2011, 2012

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Cavaliers were established in 1970 and got their name from a name the team contest

  • 1 time NBA champions; 2016
  • 4 NBA Final appearances; 2007, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 7 Conference final appearances; 1976, 1992, 2007, 2009, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 6 division titles; 1976, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017

DETROIT PISTONS

Pistons were established in 1957 but played formerly as Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons from 1941-1948 in the NBL, then changing to just Fort Wayne Pistons from1948-1957 when they joined the NBA before moving to Detroit. They were named after Owner Fred Zollner, who owned Zollner Machine Works, which made pistons.

  • 5 time NBL/NBA champions; 1944, 1945, 1989, 1990, 2004
  • 11 NBL/NBA Final appearances; 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2004, 2005
  • 17 Conference final appearances; 1951, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • 11 division titles; 1955, 1956, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

INDIANA PACERS

Pacers were established in 1967 but played with ABA from 1967-1976 before joining the NBA. They were named to signify their intention of setting their pace in basketball and due to the state’s racing history.

  • 1 NBA Final appearances; 2000
  • 8 Conference final appearances; 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2013, 2014
  • 6 division titles; 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2013, 2014

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Bucks were established in 1968, They got their name in a name the team contest with a reasoning that “bucks are spirited, good jumpers, fast and agile.”

    • 1 time NBA champions; 1971
    • 2 NBA Final appearances; 1971, 1974
    • 8 Conference final appearances; 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1983, 1984, 1986, 2001
    • 13 division titles; 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 2001 


southeast

ATLANTA HAWKS

Hawks were established in 1968 but played formerly as the Tri-cities Blackhawks for the NBL from 1946-1949, then joining NBA and in 1951 they moved to Milwaukee and since they left the Tri-cities region where the Blackhawk war took place, shortening it to just Hawks. Then they moved to St. Louis from 1955-1968, finally settling in Atlanta.

  • 6 time NBA champions; 1958
  • 4 NBA Final appearances; 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961
  • 13 Conference final appearances; 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 2015
  • 11 division titles; 1957,1958, 1959, 1960, 1961,  1968, 1970, 1980, 1987, 1994, 2015

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Hornets were established in 1988  and were originally meant to be named the Charlotte Spirit, but the objection of local fans got them to rename the team Hornets. The name also stems from the revolutionary war, when Brtitsh General Cornwallis remarked about the resistance met in North Carolina “There’s a rebel behind every bush, it’s a veritable nest of hornets.” In 2004 Hornets left for New Orleans and Charlotte was awarded a new expansion team, calling them the Charlotte Bobcats but in 2014 they went back to Hornets and reclaimed the team history after New Orleans changed their names to Pelicans.

  • No key accomplishments to note, outside of a few play appearances

MIAMI HEAT

Heat were established in 1988 and got their name from a name the team contest.

  • 3 time NBA champions; 2006, 2012, 2013
  • 5 NBA Final appearances; 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • 7 Conference final appearances; 1997, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • 12 division titles; 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016

ORLANDO MAGIC

Magic were established in 1989 and got their name in a name the team contest.

  • 2 NBA Final appearances; 1995, 2009
  • 4 Conference final appearances; 1995, 1996, 2009, 2010
  • 5 division titles; 1995, 1996, 2008, 2009, 2010

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Wizards were established in 1973 but played as Chicago Packers in 1961, changed their name to Zephyrs in 1962, then moved to Baltimore in 1963 and called themselves Bullets in honor of Baltimore’s original NBA team that played in an Armory. In 1973 they moved again and called themselves the Capital Bullets and then the following year they changed it to Washington Bullets. In 1997 the owner decided to change to Wizards due to a number of recent high profile shooting deaths. 

  • 1 time NBA champions; 1978
  • 4 NBA Final appearances; 1971, 1975, 1978, 1979
  • 5 Conference final appearances; 1965, 1971, 1975, 1978, 1979
  • 8 division titles; 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 2017


pacific

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Warriors were established in 1962 but played as the Philadelphia Warriors from 1946-1962 and San Francisco Warriors from 1962-1971 before changing to Golden Gate Warriors. They were named Warriors in Philadelphia after the former Warriors of the ABL which were owned by the same man that was GM of the new Warriors.

  • 5 time NBA champions; 1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017
  • 8 NBA Final appearances; 1947, 1956, 1964, 1967, 1975, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 15 Conference final appearances; 1947, 1948, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1973, 1975, 1976, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 10 division titles; 1948, 1951, 1956, 1964, 1967, 1975, 1976, 2015, 2016, 2017

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Clippers were established in 1984 but played formerly as Buffalo Braves from 1970-1978 and San Diego Clippers from 1978-1984. They were named following a name the team contest and Clippers were picked in reference to the city’s history as a harbor for Clipper ships and the Star of India which was still harbored in San Diego, and the name was kept when they moved to Los Angeles.

  • 2 division titles; 2013, 2014

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Lakers were established in 1960 but played formerly as Minneapolis Lakers from 1947-1960, the first couple years were playing for the NBL. They are named after the large cargo ships that traveled the many lakes of Minnesota.

  • 11 time NBA champions; 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010
  • 25 NBA Final appearances; 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • 30 Conference final appearances; 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • 28 division titles; 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

PHOENIX SUNS

Suns were established in 1968 and got their name from a name the team contest.

  • 2 NBA Final appearances; 1976, 1993
  • 9 Conference final appearances; 1976, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2005, 2006, 2010
  • 6 division titles; 1981, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006, 2007

SACRAMENTO KINGS

Kings were established in 1985 but formerly played as Rochester Royals for the NBL from 1945-1948 before joining the NBA. In 1957 they moved and became the Cincinnati Royals, staying there until 1972 when they moved to Kansas City and changed their name to avoid confusion with the MLB team of the same name, here they became the Kansas Citty-Omaha Kings, by 1975 they dropped the Omaha and then in 1985 they made another move, to Sacramento. 

  • 2 time NBL/NBA champions; 1946, 1951
  • 4 NBL/NBA Final appearances; 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951, 
  • 8 Conference final appearances; 1949, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1963, 1964, 1981, 2002
  • 7 division titles; 1947, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1979, 2002, 2003


northwest

DENVER NUGGETS

Nuggets were established in 1976 in NBA but formerly played as Rockets and Nuggets from 1967-1974 under the ABA. The name refers to the mining industry that Denver was built around

    • 6 time NBA champions; 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011
    • 19 ABA/NBA Final appearances; 1976, 
    • 15 Conference final appearances; 1978, 1985, 2009
    • 28 division titles; 1977, 1978, 1985, 1988, 2006, 2009, 2010

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Timberwolves were established in 1989 and got their name in a name the team contest, but also because Minnesota is home to the largest population of Timberwolves in the lower 48 states.

  • 15 Conference final appearances; 2004
  • 28 division titles; 2004

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Thunder were established in 2008 but played formerly as the Seattle Supersonics from 1967-2008. Thunder is fitting for the Oklahoma City franchise because not only is it a reference to powerful storms in the area known as Tornado Alley but the Oklahoma City-based 45th Infantry Division carries Thunderbirds as its nickname, and that’s a reference to the state’s Native American heritage.

  • 1 time NBA champions; 1979
  • 4 NBA Final appearances; 1978, 1979, 1996, 2012
  • 10 Conference final appearances; 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1993, 1996, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016
  • 11 division titles; 1979, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Trail Blazers were established in 1970 and got their name through a name the team contest. Trail Blazers was selected to honor the pioneers along the Oregon trail.

    • 1 time NBA champions; 1977
    • 3 NBA Final appearances; 1977, 1990, 1992 
    • 6 Conference final appearances; 1977,1990,1991, 1992, 1999, 2000
    • 5 division titles; 1978, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2015

UTAH JAZZ

Jazz were established in 1979 but played formerly as New Orleans Jazz from 1974-1979. New Orleans is a hot bed for jazz music, Utah had really no history of jazz music but kept the name in a cost saving move.

  • 2 NBA Final appearances; 1997, 1998
  • 6 Conference final appearances; 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007
  • 9 division titles; 1984, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2017


southwest

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Mavericks were established in 1980 and got their name from a name the team contest.

  • 6 time NBA champions; 2011
  • 2 NBA Final appearances; 2006, 2011
  • 4 Conference final appearances; 1988, 2003, 2006, 2011
  • 3 division titles; 1987, 2007, 2010

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Rockets were established in 1971 but played formerly known as the San Diego Rockets from 1967-1971. Rockets was chosen in a contest due to San Diego’s motto, “A City in Motion” in addition it was the manufacturing site of the Atlas rockets, used by NASA, it kept the name upon moving to Houston since the city is NASA’s headquarters.    

  • 2 time NBA champions; 1994, 1995
  • 4 NBA Final appearances; 1981, 1986, 1994, 1995
  • 7 Conference final appearances; 1977, 1981, 1986, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2015
  • 5 division titles; 1977, 1986, 1993, 1994, 2015

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Grizzlies were established in 2001 but played formerly known as the Vancouver Grizzlies from 1995-2001. The name Grizzlies was chosen after the original name Mounties was abandoned following objections by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, name was kept upon moving to Memphis.

  • 15 Conference final appearances; 2013

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

Pelicans were established in 2002 but formerly played as New Orleans Hornets from 2002-2005, New Orleans Oklahoma City Hornets from 2005-2007 and again the New Orleans Hornets from 2007-2013, before switching to Pelicans, the Louisiana state bird.

  • 1 division titles; 2008

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Spurs were established in 1976 but played formerly known as the Dallas Chaparrals from 1967-1970, Texas Chaparrals in 1970, back to Dallas Chaparrals from 1971-1973, and San Antonio Spurs from 1973-1976, for the ABA. Spurs are a pointed device usually worn by a cowboy on his heels to urge on a horse. 

  • 5 time NBA champions; 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014
  • 6 NBA Final appearances; 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2014
  • 14 Conference final appearances; 1979, 1982, 1983, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017
  • 22 division titles; 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
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