Winning an NBA title is the most important part of playing professional basketball. It is the end goal for every season and the reason players dedicate their lives to the game. Of course, it is also the most difficult part of basketball. That is why franchises scramble every season to build together the best possible team to contend with until the end of the playoffs.
Of course, not every team ends up making the postseason and for those that do, everything must be in their favor to lift the championship trophy. First, teams must get a lucky draw because matchups mean everything in the NBA and grabbing one of the top seeds in the conference places a team in a favorable position to go deep in the postseason. Next, health must be on a team’s side because injuries have caused the ruin of a ton of NBA teams with championship aspirations. Of course, superstar players, roster depth, and capable coaching complete a title-winning team.
Looking at NBA history, only 19 franchises have ever lifted the championship trophy at the end of the year. That goes to show the chance of winning it all, and only the best teams with the best players and best of luck have achieved this feat. By ranking all the championships won by franchises, here is the official breakdown of the NBA teams with the most NBA titles.
Sacramento Kings (Rochester Royals) - 1 NBA Championship (1951)
Total NBA Finals: 1
The Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) only made the NBA Finals once and made the most of it by winning the NBA title at the expense of the New York Knicks. It happened all the way back in 1951 when the Royals finished 2nd in the Western Conference (41-27) behind the reigning champion Minneapolis Lakers.
Even if there were a total of 11 teams in the league, the Royals finished with the second-best record in the league behind Arnie Risen (16.3 PPG) and Bob Davies (15.2 PPG). The Royals made quick work defeating the 3rd seed Fort Wayne Pistons in the first round, before getting past the Minneapolis Lakers in the second round. In the NBA Finals, it took a monster series by Arnie Risen (21.7 PPG, 14.3 RPG) to gift the Royals/Kings their first and only title.
Toronto Raptors - 1 NBA Championships (2019)
Total NBA Finals: 1
The Toronto Raptors were probably never supposed to have an NBA title at this point in time, but GM Masai Ujiri made one of the greatest trades in NBA history in prying Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. The superstar forward was unhappy with the Spurs franchise and seemingly wanted a way out to go to his hometown Los Angeles.
The Raptors pounced quickly, sacrificing their franchise star DeMar DeRozan to acquire the former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Other major moves including bringing in Marc Gasol helped the Raptors form one of the best teams in the league on both ends of the floor. With Leonard competing in one of his best seasons, he guided the Raptors past a 7-game war against the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to one of the greatest game-winners in NBA history.
In the Finals, the Raptors defeated an injury-ridden Golden State Warriors squad in Leonard’s first and only season with the Raptors.
Dallas Mavericks - 1 NBA Championships (2011)
Total NBA Finals: 2
The Dallas Mavericks had one of the greatest players ever in Dirk Nowitzki, and the big German guided the franchise to the NBA Finals on two occasions. Dirk is not only the greatest shooting big man ever but one of the most dominant players of his time. The first time they went to the Finals in 2006, the team was stacked with talented scorers.
Dirk led a team of Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, and Devin Harris to a 2-0 lead against the Miami Heat in the Finals. But it took a rampant Dwyane Wade (34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.7 SPG) for the Heat to overcome the Mavericks in the Finals, leaving Dirk with a painful memory.
Nowitzki got his revenge against Wade and the Heat in 2011, as his team was better prepared for the championship. The roster was stacked with veterans Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, and Tyson Chandler, and the Heat stood no chance. Despite Miami having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh; it was Dirk’s time and he delivered the only title in Mavericks history.
Portland Trail Blazers - 1 NBA Championship (1977)
Total NBA Finals: 3
The Portland Trail Blazers have had some of the greatest players ever, including a dominant Bill Walton. Walton was an intriguing inclusion into the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, but the center dominated the league over a 3-year span, unlike very few players. Walton dropped 18.5 PPG and 19.0 RPG in the 1977 Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, ending Julius Erving’s season in 6 games.
The Trail Blazers also made 2 other NBA Finals appearances: in 1990 and 1992. The first loss came in 1990 when Clyde Drexler and the talented Trail Blazers ran into a dominant Detroit Pistons led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. Finals MVP Isiah Thomas took care of business in 5 games, despite 26.4 PPG by Drexler. The 1992 Finals ended in a similar fashion, as Michael Jordan (35.8 PPG) outplayed the Trail Blazers and Drexler (24.8 PPG) in 6 games.
Atlanta Hawks - 1 NBA Championship (1958)
Total NBA Finals: 4
The Atlanta/St. Louis Hawks have only captured one NBA title in 4 appearances, and that came courtesy of the incredible Bob Pettit. The superstar big man is the greatest player in Hawks history, and his numbers over a career are incredible. Pettit averaged 26.4 PPG and 16.2 RPG over his career with the Hawks, making 11 All-Star Teams.
In the 1958 Finals, Pettit went ballistic in a critical Game 6 against the Boston Celtics by dropping 50 points and 19 rebounds to seal his first championship with the franchise. Of course, this Finals series came after the 1957 Finals when the Boston Celtics defeated Pettit and the Hawks in 7 games. The score in that Game 7 was 125-123.
Once again, Pettit and the Hawks lost to the Bill-Russell-led Celtics in 1960. Russell’s Celtics were simply the biggest powerhouse the league has ever seen, and they took care of business against the Hawks in 7 games. The following year in 1961, the Hawks fell to the Celtics yet again with Bill Russell dropping 30 points and 38 rebounds in a closeout Game 5.
Washington Wizards (Baltimore Bullets) - 1 NBA Championship (1978)
Total NBA Finals: 4
The Baltimore Bullets/Washington Wizards are another franchise with only one NBA title, and it came in a 1978 showdown against the Seattle SuperSonics. The series lasted 7 games, with superstar Elvin Hayes taking over by averaging 20.7 PPG and 11.9 RPG. But it was Wes Unseld who ended up winning Finals MVP by averaging 9.0 PPG and 11.7 RPG.
But it took the Bullets franchise a long time before they could claim the NBA title because they had to endure 2 losses before the 1978 championship season. The first came in 1971 when Washington were unable to handle one of the most dominant players ever in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when the Bucks ended the series victorious.
There was also the 1975 Finals when the Bullets fell to the Golden State Warriors led by superstar Rick Barry. The Warriors ended up sweeping the Bullets in 4 games, with Barry capturing Finals MVP honors. After Washington won the title in 1978, they made the Finals again in 1979 but lost to Dennis Johnson and the Seattle SuperSonics.
Oklahoma City Thunder (Seattle SuperSonics) - 1 NBA Championship (1979)
Total NBA Finals: 4
The Seattle SuperSonics was a much-loved franchise for their fans, because of the quality of hard-working Hall of Famers that competed every night. In a total of 3 Finals appearances, the SuperSonics won one NBA title courtesy of Dennis Johnson and company in 1979. Of course, the franchise moved to Oklahoma City when they became the Thunder before the 2009 season.
Seattle first made the Finals in 1978, although they lost to the Washington Bullets in 7 games. Washington was stacked with Hall of Famers such as Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, although Seattle would get revenge the following year.
Led by Finals MVP Dennis Johnson, the SuperSonics took care of business against the Washington Bullets in 5 games. The Sonics had too much firepower with Gus Johnson and Jack Sikma, and the fans celebrated with their only title. The SuperSonics also made the Finals in 1996 thanks to Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, but they fell to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Of course, the Oklahoma City Thunder made the Finals in 2012 but fell to a rampant superteam in the Miami Heat because the squad was simply not ready to win with a young Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Cleveland Cavaliers - 1 NBA Championship (2016)
Total NBA Finals: 5
The Cleveland Cavaliers franchise has 5 Finals appearances thanks to one man: LeBron James. The King has meant everything to the franchise because he placed them on the map after he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Even if James went 1-4 in those appearances, the one he captured was invaluable.
In the 2016 Finals, James and company were down 3-1. But The King and his superstar teammate Kyrie Irving played at an unbelievable level to bring the franchise back from the dead and win one of the most unlikely championships ever. That Finals result came after the disappointing 2015 Finals where LeBron lost both Irving and Love to injuries in the series.
LeBron and Kyrie led the Cavaliers to two more Finals in 2017 and 2018, but both ended up in convincing losses to a superteam Golden State Warriors squad that had Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Of course, there was also the 2007 Finals that saw a 22-year-old James lead a decent but unspectacular squad to the Finals against the veteran Spurs. That marked the first Finals loss in the career of LeBron James although that is not held against him considering he was so young.
Milwaukee Bucks - 2 NBA Championships (1971, 2021)
Total NBA Finals: 3
The Milwaukee Bucks have earned their success thanks to mainly two dominant superstars: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kareem was the most dominant player in the league during his time with the Bucks, and he posted a monster 27.0 PPG and 18.5 RPG with his side and took care of business against the Bullets in a 4-game sweep.
Kareem was once again the driving force behind the Bucks as they made it to the Finals against the Boston Celtics. This time, despite Kareem posting 32.6 PPG, 12.1 RPG, and 5.4 APG, the Bucks could not win the championship in a 7-game-series against the Celtics who were led by John Havlicek. Havlicek posted 26.4 PPG and 7.7 RPG to win Finals MVP in the series.
Of course, as early as last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks captured the NBA championship after making their first Finals appearance since 1974. It took a monster series from Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks to overcome a solid Phoenix Suns squad, as the Greek Freak dropped 50 points in a closeout Game 6.
Houston Rockets - 2 NBA Championships (1994, 1995)
Total NBA Finals: 4
The Houston Rockets won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995 thanks to the brilliance of Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon is one of the top-5 centers to have ever played the game and he captured both Finals MVP trophies during those years, along with being the single most dominant superstar in the NBA during Michael Jordan’s retirement.
Thanks to Olajuwon’s ability to dominate against opposing centers Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal due to his ability and elite paint play, the Rockets had the best man on the court. Of course, iconic role players including Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, Otis Thorpe, and Clyde Drexler (in 1995) helped a ton.
Unfortunately, Houston could not capitalize on all of their 4 total Finals appearances by losing 2 of them to the Boston Celtics in 1981 and 1986. In 1981, the Rockets led by Moses Malone could not overcome a talented Boston Celtics squad that featured Larry Bird (15.3 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 7.0 APG) and Cedric Maxwell (17.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG) in a showdown that lasted 6 games. In 1986, the Larry Bird Boston Celtics once again took care of business against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets.
New York Knicks - 2 NBA Championships (1970, 1973)
Total NBA Finals: 8
The New York Knicks, one of the most widely recognized franchises around the world, also captured 2 NBA titles. The Knicks have not had the amount of success they would have liked, losing 6 Finals appearances out of 8. The Knicks won the titles in 1970 and 1973 thanks to the brilliance of Willis Reed, but the last time they were in the Finals was in 1999 in a losing effort.
Willis Reed is one of the top-50 players of all time because he always turned it on in the Finals when he was needed most. Reed carried the Knicks on his back in 1970, posting 23.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG. Even though Reed was hobbled in Game 7, Walt Frazier did enough to bring the title home and Reed captured Finals MVP. In 1973, Reed was once again consistent (16.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG) to defeat Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Lakers.
The Knicks’ losses are often highlighted because elite stars such as Patrick Ewing were never able to bring home another championship. Since 1973, the Knicks have not won a title and New York fans are still patiently waiting for another shot at celebrating glory at the highest level.
Miami Heat - 3 NBA Championships (2006, 2012, 2013)
Total NBA Finals: 6
The Miami Heat are one of the most renowned franchises in NBA history because of the way they constantly attract top-tier players to compete for them and also lead them to the promised land. Of course, being based in Miami is a big reason why so many top stars want to play for the Heat. Good weather, beautiful beaches, and spectacular views can attract some of the best talents in the league for a reason.
The men behind the Heat’s success have to be Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. A 24-year-old Wade alongside a veteran Shaquille O’Neal guided the Heat to the 2006 NBA championship because the shooting guard had one of the all-time great performances in the series against the Dallas Mavericks.
Of course, Miami created one of the greatest superteams in NBA history when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade prior to the 2011 season. The King and the crew made 4 straight NBA Finals between 2011 and 2014. The 2011 Finals was a disaster as the Mavericks defeated the Heat, with James suffering one of his worst playoff series. The Heat bounced back in 2012 and 2013, taking out the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
The San Antonio Spurs got revenge in 2014 as Miami convincingly lost in 5 games by a record margin. The last Finals appearance came during the “Bubble” in 2020, as a Jimmy Butler-led Heat squad made an unexpected run to the Finals against a Los Angeles Lakers squad featuring LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Detroit Pistons - 3 NBA Championships (1989, 1990, 2004)
Total NBA Finals: 7
The Detroit Pistons franchise is the only one with multiple NBA titles despite not having an MVP award-winner on their squads. The first championship victory came in 1989 when Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars spearheaded the team to a championship against the Los Angeles Lakers. Detroit were stacked with veteran talent, and it only took a 4-game sweep.
The following year, the Pistons went back-to-back by defeating the Portland Trail Blazers led by Clyde Drexler. Isiah won Finals MVP by being the leading scorer in the series. The next championship came in 2004, in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
Detroit took out the Los Angeles Lakers squad that featured a prime Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, suffocating them with their defense and playing some of the best team basketball in NBA history. But these 3 wins did not come without losses, because the Pistons had to suffer 3 Finals losses before the first title was won.
The Pistons lost two Finals in 1955 and 1956 and also lost the 1988 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, Thomas and company exacted their revenge in 1989. The other loss came in 2005 when the Pistons could not defeat the San Antonio Spurs in an exciting Game 7.
Philadelphia 76ers (Syracuse Nationals) - 3 NBA Championships (1955, 1967, 1983)
Total NBA Finals: 9
The Philadelphia 76ers have not been the luckiest franchise in NBA history taking into account their Finals record. In 9 Finals appearances, the 76ers captured 3 NBA titles.
Philadelphia made the Finals 3 times during 1950, coming up short twice and winning the title once. The championship came during the 1955 season when the Syracuse Nationals took out the Fort Wayne Pistons in 7 games. Philadelphia were led by the brilliant Dolph Schayes who averaged 19.0 PPG and 11.9 RPG.
The next championship and Finals appearance came in 1967 when the 76ers defeated the San Francisco Warriors led by Rick Barry. Hal Greer and Chet Walker were the best players for Philadelphia, and they won the series over an enticing 6-game series.
Philadelphia would have to suffer 3 more Finals appearances before the next championship came in 1983. The 1983 Finals was certainly intriguing because superstar Moses Malone was leading the 76ers to battle against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Los Angeles Lakers. Moses averaged 25.8 PPG and 18.0 RPG in the series, giving the 76ers their 3rd NBA title.
The last time Philadelphia made the Finals, Allen Iverson was league MVP and carried a subpar team to a showdown against the superteam Los Angeles Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Despite stealing Game 1, the 76ers lost the series in 5 games.
San Antonio Spurs - 5 NBA Championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
Total NBA Finals: 6
In third place, the San Antonio Spurs are alone with 5 NBA titles in 6 Finals appearances. The man mainly responsible for those championships is Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward of all time who won 3 Finals MVPs as well. The Spurs Dynasty led by Duncan and head coach Greg Popovich is one of the most dominant creations in basketball history and it is no surprise to see them appear on the list of the winningest teams ever.
The Spurs took care of business almost every time they reached the Finals, with the first coming in 1999 when San Antonio took out the New York Knicks in 5 games. Duncan and David Robinson proved to be too much, and they made the Finals again in 2003 when the New Jersey Nets lost in 6 games.
With Duncan assuming full control of the team without Robinson in 2005, the Spurs once again made the Finals by taking out the Detroit Pistons in a hard-fought Game 7. We also began witnessing the elite trio of Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili taking form. Two years later, in 2007, the Spurs competed against the Cleveland Cavaliers led by a young LeBron James. The Spurs won the series in 4 games thanks to the presence of Tony Parker.
San Antonio returned to the NBA Finals in 2013, as a young Kawhi Leonard started coming into his own. But the Spurs fell in their first Finals loss to the superteam Miami Heat team led by LeBron James, as San Antonio could not win a pivotal Game 7. Luckily for the Spurs, the following year proved to be helpful as they exacted revenge and captured their 5th championship.
Chicago Bulls - 6 NBA Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Total NBA Finals: 6
The Chicago Bulls are one of the winningest franchises in NBA history having captured 6 NBA titles in 6 Finals appearances. The reason? The franchise had the greatest player of all time in Michael Jordan. Thanks to the GOAT’s undeniable dominance and the presence of Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, the Chicago Bulls could not be forced into a full 7-game-series let alone beaten in the Finals.
Jordan won Finals MVP 6 times, mainly because he took out the competition before they even had a chance to breathe in any series. Michael’s run in the postseason is the main reason why he is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time because he never had a single series where he played below par. It was truly exceptional to witness Michael lead the Chicago Bulls to victory every time they reached the Finals.
The first 3-peat came between 1991-1993 when Michael Jordan had the luxury of having another All-Star performer in Scottie Pippen beside him. Together, the duo ran rampant in the league and they took out the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns in convincing succession. The second 3-peat was also impressive, mainly because the Bulls added Dennis Rodman to the side.
Chicago accomplished another trio of championships when they took out the Seattle SuperSonics and the Utah Jazz twice. Despite competing against Hall of Famers in Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Gary Payton, the Chicago Bulls were unbeatable and they proved it with an unbelievable 6 out of 6 record in the Finals.
Golden State Warriors (Philadelphia Warriors) - 6 NBA Championships (1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018)
Total NBA Finals: 11
The Golden State Warriors franchise has placed itself on the map in recent years due to their dominance in the league. But throughout NBA history, the Warriors have been an excellent franchise with some elite stars competing for them. The Philadelphia Warriors captured the very first title in history, as they defeated the Chicago Stags in 5 games. The next time the Warriors playd in the Finals, it was 1956 when they defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in 5 games thanks to Paul Arizin.
The Warriors would lose their next two Finals appearances, as Wilt Chamberlain was unable to get the job done against the Boston Celtics in 5 games in 1964 and also in 1967 when Rick Barry could not lead the Warriors past Hal Greer and the Philadelphia 76ers. Luckily for Rick Barry and the Warriors, they would get the job done in 1975 by overcoming the Washington Bullets.
Of course, the Warriors dynasty kickstarted in 2015 when Stephen Curry became the league MVP. Alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Curry had a strong roster behind him which also included Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. Golden State took care of business against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in 6 games. The following year, the Warriors choked a 3-1 lead against LeBron and the Cavaliers in one of the greatest Finals series ever.
Once the Warriors acquired 4-time scoring champion, Kevin Durant, they made 3 straight Finals appearances and won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. There was simply no answer for the Warriors’ Big Four, and the franchise made quick work of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Finally, in 2019, the Warriors lost to the Toronto Raptors after both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant missed the majority of the series.
Boston Celtics - 17 NBA Championships (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008)
Total NBA Finals: 21
The Boston Celtics franchise is tied for the most NBA titles in NBA history with 17. The man that immediately comes to mind when thinking about Boston’s success has to be Bill Russell. The legendary center captured 11 NBA titles in 12 years, an alarming achievement considering how hard it is to win NBA titles. Even if the league had fewer NBA teams and a shorter postseason schedule, the way the Celtics consistently won was extremely impressive.
The Celtics also made the Finals in the mid-1970s thanks to the presence of the brilliant John Havlicek, Jo Jo White, and Dave Cowens. The Celtics captured NBA titles in 1974 and 1976, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. The roster was stacked with Hall of Fame talent, as Havlicek and Jo Jo White split Finals MVP honors.
Shortly after, the Larry Bird era started and the Celtics made 5 NBA Finals thanks to their superstar small forward. With Bird leading the way, the Celtics won 3 out of 5 Finals appearances, as their superstar captured Finals MVP twice. The other Finals MVP winner was Cedric Maxwell who helped Boston win their first title since 1976 by averaging 17.7 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
Another superteam was formed in Boston in 2008 when management found a way to add Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a roster that already featured an All-Star in Paul Pierce. Together, they made two NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010. They defeated the ultimate rival Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, as they dismantled them in Game 6 with a score of 131-92. Considering the opposing team had Kobe Bryant on it, that was an impressive victory.
Unfortunately for Boston, they could not handle the Lakers two years later when Kobe Bryant and company took care of business in an exciting Game 7 that went down to the wire. Until the Lakers won the recent championship in 2020, the Celtics held the record for most championships won.
Los Angeles Lakers - 17 NBA Championships (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2020)
Total NBA Finals: 32
The Los Angeles Lakers made their 32nd Finals appearance in 2020 and won their 17th NBA title behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Of course, the record of 32 appearances is likely to never be broken especially when players such as Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O'Neal were able to lift trophies for the team. Currently, the Lakers roster is looking suspect and the franchise needs to add some All-Star talent to reach the championship level once more or risk falling behind the Boston Celtics who currently have a top-tier selection of talent including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Lakers have had arguably the greatest collection of superstar talent that we have ever seen. The franchise won its first championship in 1949 thanks to the undeniable dominance of George Mikan, and the center was once again the catalyst behind the championship teams in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. Often disregarded and not cherished enough, George Mikan was considered to be the NBA’s first official superstar and 5 NBA titles came as a result of that.
Despite going 1-8 in the NBA Finals, Jerry West spearheaded a Lakers squad that would eventually win the title in 1972 alongside Wilt Chamberlain. West was responsible for a title of 9 Finals appearances, but the legendary player and the Lakers came short to mainly the Boston Celtics who defeated them 6 times. Of course, that only fuels the rivalry.
Of course, the “Showtime” Lakers dynasty spearheaded by Magic Johnson would capture 5 NBA titles with the point guard solidifying himself as the greatest ever in his position. The Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant dynasty soon followed, and they won 3 straight titles. Once Shaq departed to Miami, Kobe won another 2 titles alongside Pau Gasol and the shooting guard became arguably the greatest Laker ever as a result. Most recently, LeBron’s title campaign in 2020 gave the Lakers an even number of titles as the Boston Celtics.