Winning an NBA Championship is arguably the most difficult thing to do on professional sports, as there’s just too much talent around the league and a bad call, an injury, or just tough luck can change your plans in the blink of an eye.
Being an NBA Champion is so tough that legendary players like Karl Malone, Charles Barkey or Steve Nash were never able to get a ring despite being undisputed Hall of Famers and some of the most influential guys to ever lace them up.
As a matter of fact, there are some franchises that haven’t even made it to the NBA Finals, so that’ll tell you how tough it is to win it all in this league. Today, we’ll let you know about the last time every franchise took the Larry O’Brien trophy home:
Atlanta Hawks (1) – 1958
The Atlanta Hawks had their first 60+ win season back in 2014-15, but they weren’t able to make the most of their first seed in the Eastern Conference vs. LeBron James.
As a matter of fact, they haven’t even made the playoffs the last three seasons, and haven’t been int he Finals since 1961, after winning their only title in 1958.
Boston Celtics (17) – 2008
The Boston Celtics are the winningest franchise in NBA history, but you have to take those titles with a grain of salt. 11 of those Championships came thanks to Bill Russell, but the league was way less competitive back in the day.
Now, they’re working to get back to the league’s ultimate stage, as they haven’t won another Championship since their heroic triumph vs. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008.
Brooklyn Nets – Never
The New Jersey / Brooklyn Nets have never won an NBA Championship. Still, they’re two times ABA Champions from the mid 70’s, but not even Julius Erving or Jason Kidd were able to replicate that success in the Association.
Now, they have one of the strongest cores in the league with Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, and Kevin Durant, so perhaps next year they’ll put an end to their drought.
Charlotte Hornets – Never
The Charlotte Bobcats / Hornets don’t even have a winning record in their history (1031-1307), so it’s no wonder they haven’t made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs.
This franchise hasn’t been exactly the definition of success and it doesn’t seem like things are going to change any time soon. Hopefully, those loyal fans won’t turn their backs on the team.
Chicago Bulls (6) – 1998
The Chicago Bulls were the league’s driving force during the early ’90s, as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen teamed up to put the rest of the Association at their feet.
Jordan and the Bulls won two triplets and were a perfect 6/6 in the Finals, but the Bulls have struggled to find the same kind of success ever seen, as not even Derrick Rose could take them back to the top.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) – 2016
LeBron James lived by his word and gave his hometown an NBA Championship, even if it took him 13 years and a controversial departure to the Miami Heat.
James took the Cavaliers to the highest of the Eastern Conference and led them to 4 straight trips to the NBA Finals, beating the almighty 73-9 Golden State Warriors in 2016 with the most epic comeback in Finals history.
Dallas Mavericks (1) – 2011
The Dallas Mavericks were eager to avenge their loss vs. Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat and they surely did so in 2011, when a team full of veterans took the best of the Miami Heat in 6 games.
Dirk Nowitzki stepped up and proved he’s the best foreign in NBA history by leading the Mavericks to their lone NBA Championship in one of the best underdog stories ever.
Denver Nuggets – Never
The Denver Nuggets have made 34 playoff appearances in their history, but they have never gotten past the Western Conference Finals, and not even Carmelo Anthony could help them.
Now, the Nuggets are one of the strongest teams in the West, but even with Nikola Jokic as their go-to-guy, it feels like they need another start to make it to the ultimate stage.
Detroit Pistons (3) – 2004
The Detroit Pistons have struggled over the past decade, as they have been nowhere close to the hardnosed team they were in the early 2000s when their defense intimidated even the most physical teams in the world.
The Pistons were a team with no All-Stars but still made their way to the NBA Finals, where they beat the Lakers’ infamous Fab Four of Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O’Neal. Not bad.
Golden State Warriors (6) – 2018
The Golden State Warriors were a sleeping giant until Steve Kerr took over. Under him, they made it to the Finals every single year, a streak that’s most likely to end this season.
Led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, the Warriors dynasty was incredibly fun to watch. They broke the record for most wins in the regular season, and 3 rings in 5 years.
Houston Rockets (2) – 1995
Jame Harden and Russell Westbrook have a lot of pressure on their shoulders right now, as the Warriors are no longer a force in the league and they won’t have an excuse this time.
The Rockets haven’t won a Championship since Michael Jordan’s first retirement when Hakeem Olajuwon dominated the league – and Shaquille O’Neal – with back-to-back Championships.
Indiana Pacers – Never
Just like the Nets, the Indiana Pacers have never won an NBA Championship, yet they have 3 ABA rings to brag about, but that’s something just elder fans can remember at this point.
Reggie Miller was unable to get past Michael Jordan in the playoffs, and Paul George struggled vs. LeBron James. Now, it’ll be up to Victor Oladipo to take them to their first NBA Final ever.
Los Angeles Clippers – Never
The Los Angeles Clippers were kind of the league’s laughing stock for decades, but hey, nobody’s laughing now. They have never made it to the Finals, but they made sure to reinforce their squad to perform at the highest of levels.
Kawhi Leonard already took the Toronto Raptors to their first Final appearance and first NBA Championship, so he’ll become a legend if he pulls it off with the Clippers as well.
Los Angeles Lakers (16) – 2010
The Los Angeles Lakers are the winningest team in modern basketball history, but they haven’t even made the playoffs since 2013 when they were infamously swept during Dwight Howard’s first tenure.
Now, the Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard’s back with a mission to take them back to the top of the world following years of rebuilding and struggles.
Memphis Grizzlies – Never
The Vancouver / Memphis Grizzlies have never made it to the NBA Finals, but they were pretty close to it during their grit-and-grind era with Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Marc Gasol.
Now, they’re back on the drawing board trying to rebuild, with Jaren Jackson Jr and Ja Morant as their cornerstones for the future, which is really encouraging for their fans.
Miami Heat (3) – 2013
Dwyane Wade led the Miami Heat to their first Championship ever and then convinced LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join on board and form one of the deadliest Big Threes ever almost a decade later.
The Heat was a driving force in the league during the early 2010s until Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs put an end to that story in 2014, but now Jimmy Butler has vowed to take them back to the Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks (1) – 1971
The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off their best season since 1981, clinching the best record in the NBA and looking like a legit threat in the Eastern Conference.
However, Kawhi and the Raptors were too much to handle win for them, so they’ll look to regroup and put an end to their 48-year championship drought.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Never
The Minnesota Timberwolves would’ve been in a position to succeed during the Kevin Garnett era if the league hadn’t punished them for an illegal contract but they were never able to surround KG with top-tier talents for a sustained period of time.
Hence, the Timberwolves haven’t even made it to the NBA Finals, as their best playoff appearance came in 2004 when they lost in the Western Conference Finals.
New Orleans Pelicans – Never
As a franchise, the Pelicans / Hornets have only been around for 18 seasons, and they’ve just made 7 playoff appearances ever since, owning a 644-741 record.
That’s why Chris Paul and Anthony Davis wanted out of the team so it’s difficult to blame them, but now, their future looks bright with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and, of course: Zion Williamson.
New York Knicks (2) – 1973
New York Knicks fans must be some of the most loyal fans in the world. Their team has struggled for decades and the owner doesn’t seem to care, but they refuse to give up hope.
The Knicks failed with Patrick Ewing, they failed with Carmelo Anthony, they failed with Kristaps Porzingis and will most likely fail with RJ Barrett, but hopefully, they’ll turn things around eventually.
Oklahoma City Thunder (1) – 1979
The Oklahoma City Thunder has only made it to the finals once, but they won an NBA Championship earlier when they were still the Seattle Supersonics.
Sadly for them, they couldn’t make the most of the three MVPs and Scoring Champions they had playing together this decade, and they’re now yet another rebuilding team.
Philadelphia 76ers (3) – 1983
The Philadelphia 76ers are currently the best team in the Eastern Conference. They’re just stacked at every position and looked poised for another trip to the NBA Finals.
Notably, that would be their first trip to the Finals since Allen Iverson led them in 2001, but Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were unstoppable back then.
Phoenix Suns – Never
The Phoenix Suns had one of the most entertaining offenses this league has ever seen, a back-to-back MVP, and a stacked team, but couldn’t even make it past the Western Conference Finals.
Steve Nash was pretty close to taking them to the Finals but the officiating was clearly biased in favor of the San Antonio Spurs, and they’ve struggled over the last decade to put together a winning team.
Portland Trail Blazers (1) – 1977
Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers made it back to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the 1999-00 season, but they weren’t able to deal with the almighty Golden State Warriors.
Damian Lillard is determined to take this team back to Championship contention, as they haven’t won the trophy in over 40 years when Bill Walton dominated the rest of the league.
Sacramento Kings (1) – 1951
The Sacramento Kings won the Championship on their third season as a franchise (Rochester Royals) in 1951, but they haven’t even made it to the Finals ever since, so that’s not precisely the definition of success.
But after years of struggles, Vlade Divac has finally put together a nice squad that looks poised for a breakout year any time now, so hopefully, they’ll make it to their first Finals of the century pretty soon.
San Antonio Spurs (5) – 2014
Gregg Popovich has made the San Antonio Spurs the most steady, consistent and reliable franchise in modern sports history, as they’ve made it to an NBA-record 22 straight playoff appearances.
However, they haven’t been able to compete for a Championship in a couple of years and Kawhi Leonard’s departure was a major blow for them, as it’s been 5 seasons since their last Finals appearance.
Toronto Raptors (1) – 2019
The Toronto Raptors were used to underperform in the playoffs, but Masai Ujiri took a major gamble and traded his franchise player to get a one-year-rental on Kawhi Leonard.
Needless to say, that gamble paid off, as they’re the defending NBA Champions and have put together a team capable of competing to get back to basketball’s ultimate stage.
Utah Jazz – Never
Karl Malone and John Stockton were never able to win an NBA Championship because of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls, and they mightily struggled to be relevant again since Deron Williams left.
Now, they’re one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference, and while it may not be an easy task, they’ll look to make it back to the Finals for the first time since 1998.
Washington Wizards (1) – 1978
The Washington Bullets / Wizards have been one of the worst teams in modern basketball history, but there was a time when they were a force that needed to be reckoned.
Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes were one of the two most unstoppable guys in the world during the late 70s, but the Wizards haven’t even gotten past the 2nd round of the playoffs since 1979.