The heated action on and off the court makes basketball one of the finest sports. With so many teams competing in the seasons, each team has their own set of loyalists. Check if your team made it to our list.
Did You Know?
The first professional league was founded in 1898 in which 8 teams took part, and the winners were the Trenton Nationals. However, the league was abandoned in 1904!
The story of basketball’s invention is an interesting one. This sport was invented by James Naismith in 1931, who devised 13 rules for this new game. One day due to heavy rains, James needed some activity to keep his gym students busy. So, he devised some rules for this new indoor game, i.e., basketball! When James first invented the game, fruit baskets were used as the baskets in which the balls were needed to be thrown. These baskets were nailed to the gym railing, and the objective was to throw the soccer ball into these baskets. He divided his 18 students into two teams with 9 players in each team. However, the first public basketball game was played in Springfield, MA on March 11, 1892. Over the years, the world of basketball has seen many teams emerging as pioneers of the game. Here, we have put forth a consolidated list of such popular basketball teams, which have ruled the charts for many a week.
Popular Basketball Teams
* Note: The teams are mentioned in no particular order. The team value is as per 2013 Forbes ratings.
Los Angeles Lakers
Value: $643 million
The franchise of the Lakers began in the year 1947 after acquiring the disbanded Detroit Gems for about $15,000. In their first league season, they led the league by 43-17. The team gave an incredible performance in the 1971-72 season. They won 14 straight matches in November and 16 matches in December. In the next year’s opening season, they won three matches before Milwaukee Bucks ended their 33-game winning streak. They have won 16 championships.
Star Player: Earvin “Magic Johnson” played point guard for the Lakers. He was a part of the Lakers from 1979-1991 and then in the 1996 season. He played 13 seasons with the Lakers and won 5 championships. He retired in 1996 after being diagnosed with HIV.
The Lakers got their name from Minnesota’s nickname, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”.
Value: $452 million
The Celtics team was formed in 1946 by Boston Garden-Arena Corporation President Walter Brown. The team was known to be one of the most dominant teams in the mid 1950s-60s. It was during this season that the rivalry between Celtics and Lakers began, which has continued for generations. The team was the first one to have an all African-American lineup. The Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen led the team to glory once again, after struggling through the years. The team has won 17 championships.
Star Player: Larry Bird was drafted in 1978, when he was in the senior year of his college and debuted one year after he was drafted. His entire career was with Boston in which he won 3 NBA championships. He played at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons. He retired in 1992 due to chronic back problems.
The Celtics was the first franchise to draft an African-American Player, Chuck Cooper.
New York Knicks
Value: $655 million
The Knicks, as the team is popularly called, was established in 1946 and was one of the founding members of the Basketball Association of America (now part of the NBA). In the early years, the Knicks reached the NBA finals thrice, but ended up on the losing side. However, in the 1969-70 season, the team won 18 straight games in a single NBA season. The team has won two NBA championships.
Star Player: Patrick Ewing played as the starting center for the Knicks. He was selected at the first ever Draft Lottery by the Knicks in 1985. However, in the first year during the league, his performance was marred by injuries. He was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. He was associated with Knicks from 1985-2000. His jersey number 33 was retired by Knicks in 2003.
The Knicks, apart from Celtics, is one of the two teams in NBA to still be located in their original city.
Value: $433 million
Houston Rockets was established in 1967, and they played in San Diego in their initial four years before moving to Houston. The team was earlier called San Diego Rockets, but when they moved to Houston, they coined their current name. During their initial years, the Rockets were mostly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. However, in the 1994-95 season, they went on to create NBA history by winning the championship after being seeded sixth. As of date, this is the youngest team in NBA, but they became one of the highest scoring offenses in NBA history. They have won 2 championships.
Star Player: Hakeem Olajuwon played center for the Rockets from 1984 – 2001. The Rockets won back-to-back championships in his era. He along with Ralph Sampson were called the “Twin Towers”. Due to his grace on and off the field, he was nicknamed as “Akeem The Dream”. He is the only player in NBA history to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP, all in one season. In 2008, he was included in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The team got its nickname “Rocket” due to the development of the Atlas missile and booster rocket program.
Value: $511 million
Chicago Bulls was founded in 1966 by Dick Klein, who was the only team owner who ever played basketball. Their first NBA season was the 1966-67 season, and in their first two seasons, they set a record of 57 wins and 25 losses. The team set an NBA record of 72 wins during the 1995-96 season and became the only team to win 70+ games in a single season. The period from 1994-2004 was the most difficult one for the Bulls, as everyone had written them off after their second three-peat. The team won six championships with two three-peats. In 2010-11 season, the team was seeded first in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1998. The team won six championships with two three-peats.
Star Player: Michael Jordan, playing at shooting guard, joined the Bulls in 1984 and was associated with the team till 1993. He rejoined the team in 1995 and played till 1998 before announcing his second retirement. He won his three-peat with the Bulls in the years 1991 – 1993, and later on, he also became a part of the second-peat of 1996-1998. He is one of the most popular players in history of the game and was nicknamed as “Air Jordan” and “His Airness” due to his leaping ability. He is included in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Bulls have a tradition of wearing black shoes during playoffs as a way to mark the team’s unity.
Value: $425 million
Miami Heat was established in 1988 and managed to reach the playoffs only twice in their first eight seasons. However, in the 1996-97 season, the team underwent a major fortune turnover, and it held the second best record in team history of 61-21. In the same year, their performance on the road of 32-9 earned them the title of “Road Warriors”. The team won the championships twice – in 2006 and 2012.
Star Player: Alonzo Mourning played at center in his career with Miami Heat from 1995-2002 and 2005-2008. He is the first player to have his number retired from Miami Heat. He won the 2006 championship with Heat, right after his kidney transplant. Due to his friction with Jordan, he was traded to Heat from Charlotte. He announced his retirement in 2009, citing health reasons.
The Heat recorded a 27-game winning steak, the second longest winning steak after the Lakers.
Value: $411 million
The Suns were established in 1968 and is the only team in the Western Conference which is not based in California. The team’s winning percentage of 55 percent of games is the fourth best all-time winning percentage. In the early seasons, the Suns finished at the last spot, which earned them the first pick at the 1969 draft. In the 1975-76 season, they reached their first NBA finals, but eventually lost it to Boston Celtics. The Suns, having a rough time, fired their manager Lance Blanks after the second worst record in the history of the game.
Star Player: Kevin Johnson, the current mayor of Sacramento, was a part of the Suns team from 1988-1998 and in 2000. He played at point guard and was traded to Phoenix Suns for Larry Nance by Cleveland Cavaliers. In his first season itself, he averaged 20.4 points and 12 assists, joining the likes of Johnson in becoming the only player to earn those points in one season. He retired in 1998, but returned in 2000 to replace the injured Jason Kidd during playoffs and helped Suns to win their first playoff in five years.
The team is the most winning franchise on the basis of their overall win-loss percentage but have never won an NBA championship.
San Antonio Spurs
Value: $404 million
The Spurs joined the NBA league in 1976; however, they were founded in 1967. The team has a remarkable winning percentage and ranks third in the active franchises for highest winning percentage. They have lost the playoffs only four times. However, the team suffered difficult seasons from 1985-1989, and their poor performance led to low attendance for the matches. It was during this season that the Spurs recorded 21-16 in the 1988-89 season, the worst record in franchise history. The team won its first championship in 1999. Later on, they went on to win three more series, taking their championship victory count to 4.
Star Player: David Robinson played center for the Spurs from 1989-2003. He was drafted in the 1987 NBA draft but due to his prior commitment with the US Navy, he debuted in the 1989-90 season. He was nicknamed “The Admiral” due to his prior US Navy officer services. After Robinson’s entry into the franchise, the team had the greatest single season turnaround in the history of the game. All the titles won by Spurs was in Robinson’s era.
In 1975, when Drossos and his group decided to lease the team for three years, the team was renamed as San Antonio Gunslingers. However, they were given the current name soon after.
Value: $438 million
The Mavs (as they are often referred to) were established in 1980. It was the only team in Dallas after Dallas Chaparrals moved to San Antonio and became San Antonio Spurs. Their opening game was against the Spurs, and the Mavs won comfortably with scores of 103-92. After a winning streak, the Mavs lost their first season (since 1982-1983) in 1989-90 due to injuries to key players. It was only in 2005-06 season that they advanced to the finals but lost the title to Miami Heat. In the 2010-11 season, they were again pitted against Miami Heat in the finals, but this time around, the Mavs won their first and only championship till date.
Star Player: Dirk Nowitzki has been with the Mavs from 1998 till present. He plays power forward for the team and was a part of the 2006 finals and 2011 championship. He along with Steve Nash and Michael Finley were called the “Big Three”, who led Mavs to the Conference Finals in the 2002-03 season. He is the only NBA player to get 100 blocks and 150 3-pointers in a single season.
The team got its name from the famous TV series, Maverick. This name was chosen by public voting via postcards.
Value: $399 million
Toronto Raptors was established in the year 1995 and became the first NBA team based in Canada since Toronto Huskins in 1946-47. In their initial season, their win-loss record was 21-61. This situation continued in 1997-98 season, when the team had a 17-game losing streak. However, the next three seasons from 1999-2002 were good ones for the team, with the team concluding the 1999 season with a 45-37 record. The team has not won a single championship yet.
Star Player: Vince Carter played with the Raptors from 1998-2004. He was instrumental in leading the Raptors to their first playoff series win in 2000. It was during his era that Raptors advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2001. However, during the 2002 playoffs, he was injured and the team was defeated in the first round itself. His 2004 season was the last one with Raptors before he moved to New Jersey Nets.
Based on public voting, the team’s current name was announced on national television in 1994.
With so many great teams in the history of the game, it is impossible to include all of them. Some of the players mentioned in the article may have retired, but their contribution in making their team popular is unmatched for! As the battle of the teams continues in the coming seasons, we hope to see more action on the court.