NBA finals champions for every year since the league began

·4 min read

Here's every NBA finals champion since the league began originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Milwaukee Bucks begin their NBA title defense on opening night of the 2021-22 season Tuesday, hosting the Brooklyn Nets in an Eastern Conference heavyweight showdown.

Milwaukee snapped a 50-year championship drought when it erased a 2-0 series deficit with four straight wins over the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 Finals. Now, Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. will be trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Steph Curry-Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

But the road to a repeat won’t be easy, as several teams look primed to challenge Milwaukee for this season’s Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Before a champion is crowned in 2022, here’s a look back at the history of past title winners and non-winners:

Which NBA franchise has won the most championships?

The most storied rivalry in NBA history features the two franchises who have won the most championships. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are tied for the most titles with 17. 

Boston and L.A. have met in the Finals a record 12 times, with the Celtics taking nine of those head-to-head matchups. Their most recent Finals bout came in 2010, when Finals MVP Kobe Bryant led the Lakers past the Celtics in seven games. They also squared off two years prior to that, with the C’s winning in six games.

There’s a big drop-off after the Celtics and Lakers. The Warriors and Chicago Bulls are tied for the third-most championships with six. All of the Bulls’ titles came during the Michael Jordan era in the 1990s, courtesy of two three-peats. Meanwhile, the Dubs captured half of their titles within  the last decade, winning three of four from 2015-18.

Sitting alone in fifth with five championships are the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan were the foundation of a dynasty in San Antonio that won all five of the franchise’s titles from 1999-2014.

Sitting outside the top five are the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers with three championships apiece.

Which NBA franchises have never won a championship?

There are 11 franchises who have never won an NBA championship: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. 

Of that group, only the Pacers, Nets, Suns, Jazz and Magic have reached the Finals. The Suns have suffered the most Finals losses of any franchise without a title, losing to Boston in 1976, Chicago in 1993 and Milwaukee in 2021.

What is the longest current NBA championship drought?

The longest current title drought doesn’t actually belong to a franchise that has never won one. The Sacramento Kings last took home a championship in 1951, when they were the Rochester Royals. That 70-year stretch without a title currently stands as the longest drought. Sacramento also owns the longest active playoff drought at 15 years, which is tied for the all-time record.

The Atlanta Hawks, who last won it all in 1958 as the St. Louis Hawks, have gone the second-longest stretch without a championship at 63 years, followed by the Suns at 53 years.

Who are the winners of each NBA championship?

Here’s a look at every NBA champion in league history:

1947: Philadelphia Warriors

1948: Baltimore Bullets

1949: Minneapolis Lakers

1950: Minneapolis Lakers

1951: Rochester Royals

1952: Minneapolis Lakers

1953: Minneapolis Lakers

1954: Minneapolis Lakers

1955: Syracuse Nationals

1956: Philadelphia Warriors

1957: Boston Celtics

1958: St. Louis Hawks

1959: Boston Celtics

1960: Boston Celtics

1961: Boston Celtics

1962: Boston Celtics

1963: Boston Celtics

1964: Boston Celtics

1965: Boston Celtics

1966: Boston Celtics

1967: Philadelphia 76ers

1968: Boston Celtics

1969: Boston Celtics

1970: New York Knicks

1971: Milwaukee Bucks

1972: Los Angeles Lakers

1973: New York Knicks

1974: Boston Celtics

1975: Golden State Warriors

1976: Boston Celtics

1977: Portland Trail Blazers

1978: Washington Bullets

1979: Seattle SuperSonics

1980: Los Angeles Lakers

1981: Boston Celtics

1982: Los Angeles Lakers

1983: Philadelphia 76ers

1984: Boston Celtics

1985: Los Angeles Lakers

1986: Boston Celtics

1987: Los Angeles Lakers

1988: Los Angeles Lakers

1989: Detroit Pistons

1990: Detroit Pistons

1991: Chicago Bulls

1992: Chicago Bulls

1993: Chicago Bulls

1994: Houston Rockets

1995: Houston Rockets

1996: Chicago Bulls

1997: Chicago Bulls

1998: Chicago Bulls

1999: San Antonio Spurs

2000: Los Angeles Lakers

2001: Los Angeles Lakers

2002: Los Angeles Lakers

2003: San Antonio Spurs

2004: Detroit Pistons

2005: San Antonio Spurs

2006: Miami Heat

2007: San Antonio Spurs

2008: Boston Celtics

2009: Los Angeles Lakers

2010: Los Angeles Lakers

2011: Dallas Mavericks

2012: Miami Heat

2013: Miami Heat

2014: San Antonio Spurs

2015: Golden State Warriors

2016: Cleveland Cavaliers

2017: Golden State Warriors

2018: Golden State Warriors

2019: Toronto Raptors

2020: Los Angeles Lakers

2021: Milwaukee Bucks

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting