3 NBA Teams With The Most Championship Titles
When looking at the NBA teams with the most championship titles, it’s hard to be surprised. Those spots are taken by the best franchises in basketball history – the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Chicago Bulls. Two of them are the oldest and most prestigious names in basketball, counting for over half of the Finals ever played. The next shocked the industry with a nearly decade-long dynasty that put them ahead of every other team.
Here we’re going into more detail about these teams and what set them apart from the rest. The teams are still active today too, so you may want to consider them when browsing Fanduel’s NBA picks.
The Boston Celtics are tied for NBA championship titles at 17. This is out of 21 appearances at the Finals.
When the NBL merged with the BAA in the 1950s, the Boston Celtics were there from the start. Having started in 1946 under the BAA, the Celtics struggled after the NBA merger but this started to change under Red Auerbach, who added Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and Bill Russell in the late 50s.
This is where their first-ever championship win came from – in 1957 where they beat the St. Louis Hawks. While they lost to them a year later, the Hawks weren’t the Celtics’ main enemy, as they’d spend the next decade facing the Los Angeles Lakers. They faced off 6 times in the 60s, in ’62, ’63, ’65, ’66, ’68, and then ’69. The Celtics won each of these and, with some other victories, had 10 of their 17 championship wins under their belt.
By then the Celtics had John Havlicek on-team, who carried them into the 70s alongside Dave Cowens and Jo Jo White. Their next title victory came in 1974 over the Milwaukee Bucks, where a daring play by Cowens put them back in winning form. They did it again next year against the Phoenix Suns, thanks to Havlicek and Gar Heard.
They’d return to the Finals, and to their rivalry with the Lakers, in the 80s. With Larry Bird and Kevin McHale now on the team, the Celtics won in ’81, ’84, and ’86 and were at 16 wins. The 80s was a long time ago, however, and the Celtics would only win their last championship title in 2008.
Los Angeles Lakers
Out of 32 appearances at the Finals, the Lakers have also won the championship 17 times between 1949 and 2020.
Along with the Celtics, the Lakers were also one of the foundational franchises within the NBA. Back then they were the Minneapolis Lakers, where they stayed for approximately 10 years between 1947 and 1958. As we know now, they moved to Los Angeles and became the LA Lakers that we have today.
Their first wins were in ’49, ’50, ’52, ’53, and ’54 as the Minneapolis Lakers. After their move to Los Angeles, the Celtics stood in their way at the Finals throughout the 60s. Things started to turn around when Wilt Chamberlain arrived and worked seamlessly with Elgin Baylor and Jerry West under coach Bill Sharman. Their next championship win was in 1972, the year Baylor retired, where they beat the Knicks for their 6th title.
The acquisition of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and then Magic Johnson cemented the team’s continued success into the 80s and started their Showtime era. They won the title 5 times in 1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, and ’88.
Unlike the Celtics, the Lakers have had more success in the 21st Century after securing Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. They won 2000, ’01, ’02, ’09, ’10, and then the 2020 title to make their 17 wins.
The Chicago Bulls have only won the title 6 times, that’s how big the gap between joint first-place and second place is.
Note that the Golden State Warriors have also won 6 championships. The reason the Bulls are here is that the Bulls have reached the Finals 6 times and won each and every time. With the Warriors, they’ve had 10 Finals games but only won six of them. The Bulls are also the younger team, making their Finals run in the 1990s even more impressive.
They had to wait for that run, however. After starting in 1966, things changed for the Bulls when Michael Jordan joined the franchise. With him, they secured the championship title in 1991, ’92, ’93, ’96, ‘97, and then ’98, and they haven’t won since.