The ultimate goal of every NBA franchise is to win a championship. Some teams are constantly looking to add to their total, while some are seeking their first taste of championship success.
Having success is one thing, but having it multiple times or for many years in a row, is incredibly admirable.
But who is the most successful team in the NBA, and how did they win their championship titles?
In this post, I explore the Top 10 NBA teams who have won the most championships, their key players and the years they won them.
Table of Contents
NBA Championship Win Table
|LA Lakers||17||1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, 2020|
|Boston Celtics||17||1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008|
|Golden State Warriors||7||1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019|
|Chicago Bulls||6||1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998|
|San Antonio Spurs||5||1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014|
|Detroit Pistons||3||1989, 1990, 2004|
|Philadelphia 76ers||3||1955, 1966, 1983|
|Miami Heat||3||2006, 2012, 2013|
|New York Knicks||2||1970, 1973|
|Houston Rockets||2||1994, 1995|
1. LA Lakers – 17 championships
The Los Angeles Lakers are synonymous with the NBA. From George Mikan and Slater Martin in the 50s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson in the 80s, to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil in the 2000s. The Lakers have had enough dynasties to make any sporting franchise jealous.
LA has attracted players to the City of Angels for decades. The lure of playing in one of the biggest basketball markets while enjoying the luxurious lifestyle of living in LA is too much to pass up.
That’s how the Lakers build their team in the 80s by bringing in Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. It’s how they united Shaq with Kobe in the 2000s and how they’re making another dynasty with LeBron James and Anthony Davis right now.
The Lakers boast three back-to-back championship wins in 1949-1950, 1987-1988, and 2009-2010. While they also have two three peats to their legacy in 1952-1954 and 2000-2002.
2. Boston Celtics – 17 championships
The Boston Celtics owned the NBA in the 1960s.
They won eight consecutive NBA championships from 1959 to 1968 – the longest straight championship run in US sports team history. The Lakers also won eleven titles in thirteen seasons.
This dynasty was led by Bill Russell, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, and Satch Sanders. All of whom are now in the NBA Hall of Fame. And they were coached by Hall-of-Famer Red Auerbach. The Celtics were unbeatable and constructed the most incredible sports dynasty in history.
But that wasn’t the only championship dynasty the Celtics had. Larry Bird led Boston to championship rings in 1981, 1984, and 1986.
More recently, the Celtics had a team that arguably should have won more championships in the 2000s. A team made up of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen could only win one title in 2008.
3. Golden State Warriors – 7 championships
The Golden State Warriors have jumped up this list due to the recent success of Steph Curry and the current Warriors dynasty.
Entering the 2014-15 season, the Warriors had only won three previous championships in 1947, 1956, and 1975. Those seasons had their own Hall-of-Famers, like Rick Barry, Paul Arizin, and Joel Fulks. However, the four championship rings in the 2010s outweigh them.
Along came Steph Curry, who revolutionized basketball with his three-point shooting and helped the Warriors to their first championship in 2015. He played with another two great NBA players – Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The trio won their second championship in 2017 and went back-to-back by winning again in 2018.
With the addition of Klay Thomson, Andrew Wiggins and Steph Curry – the Warriors were able to keep the dynasty alive when they won their fourth, and the Warriors’ seventh all-time, NBA finals that season.
4. Chicago Bulls – 6 championships
Despite not having as many championships as the LA Lakers, Celtics, or Warriors, the Chicago Bulls have arguably the most influential dynasty.
Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to each of their two three-peats, with the first one coming in a 1991 win over the Lakers.
This sparked the beginning of the dynasty, as the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen-led Bulls won it for the next two seasons. It was during this reign that Jordan became a basketball megastar and a mainstream media figure.
Michael Jordan was the most valuable player award (MVP) in all six of the Bulls championship wins in 1991, 92, 93 and then in 1996, 97, and 1998.
But he wasn’t the only Hall-of-Famer on the court. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kucoc undoubtedly played their part in the Bulls’ success.
5. San Antonio Spurs – 5 championships
When talking about all-time NBA dynasties, there’s one that always gets overlooked and underappreciated. The early 2000s San Antonio Spurs.
The Shaquille O’Neil and Kobe Bryant LA Lakers teams are recognized as the top teams of that era. However, the San Antonio Spurs won an astounding four NBA championships in the eight years from 1999 to 2007.
Widely regarded as the best power forward of all time, Tim Duncan and David Robinson led the Spurs to championship rings in 1999 and 2003.
This time assisted by Manu Ginobili, Duncan captained San Antonio to two further championships in 2005 and 2007.
The Spurs are continually overlooked in this period by the likes of the Lakers. They may not have had the same level of draw or attraction; however, they were a dominant franchise.
The Spurs won their fifth championship in 2014. The young Kawhi Leonard was the star this time, with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili playing second fiddle.
6. Detroit Pistons – 3 championships
The Detroit Pistons 1980s team was brandished with the moniker “the motor city bad boys”, and a more fitting NBA nickname is yet to be found.
Bill Laimbeer, Isiah Thomas, Rick Mahorn, Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and Joe Dumars were perfect pieces for head coach Chuck Daly to install his win-by-any-means necessary attitude. And that’s precisely what they did.
The Pistons literally fought their way to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990 by beating the Lakers and Trail Blazers, respectively.
They were a far cry from the elegant basketball played in LA and Boston. Instead, they represented Detroit in a very fitting way by being tough, physical, and playing extraordinary defence. If you weren’t a Detroit fan, you hated this team – and that’s how they liked it!
The Detroit Pistons’ third championship came in 2004 when they again toppled the heavy-betting favourite LA Lakers in five games.
Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton upset the mighty Lakers in what is recognized as the biggest NBA finals upset in history to bring a third championship to Detroit.
7. Philadelphia 76ers – 3 championships
The 76ers three championship rings are pretty rare because each of them comes over a decade apart.
The franchise won its first ring in 1955 when they were still known as the Syracuse Nationals. Dolph Schayes and Earl Lloyd will be names that younger fans will be unfamiliar with, but both are Hall-of-Famers who championed the then Nationals to win it all.
Eleven years and a relocation later, Wilt Chamberlain won his third straight MVP title with the 76ers and capped off the season by bringing a ring to Philadelphia. Surprisingly, the only championship won by Chamberlain as a 76er.
The 76ers made the NBA finals in 1980 and 1982; however, they lost both times in six games to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and the Lakers.
So when Philly once again made the finals against the Lakers in 1983, they were determined to right their wrongs.
Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and Moses Malone got their revenge on the Lakers and took the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Philadelphia.
8. Miami Heat – 3 championships
The Miami Heat entered the NBA in 1988, and the South Beach team was immediately searching for a championship. But they had to wait nearly two decades to get their first one.
The Heat drafted future Hall-of-Famer Dwayne Wade in 2003, and his superstar potential was immediately evident. The franchise brought in Shaquille O’Neil in the hopes of building a championship team.
And in 2006, they did just that. The Heat won their first championship by defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
Shaq and others left Miami; however, Dwayne Wade stayed put and was still the team’s star until the Heat made the biggest NBA signing when they penned LeBron James to a contract.
LeBron James was desperate for a championship ring – a ring he couldn’t get when playing in Cleveland. In 2012 LeBron led the Heat to the NBA finals with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and they made relatively easy work of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The trio repeated championship glory when they gave Miami its third ring in 2013.
9. New York Knicks – 2 championships
For a team that plays its home games in “the mecca of basketball” and has one of the biggest markets in the NBA, having just two championship rings may be slightly underwhelming.
The Knicks went to three NBA finals before bringing their first ring to the Big Apple. However, with five now Hall-of-Famers in Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, and Phil Jackson, the 1970 Knicks were destined to win it all.
The Lakers pushed the Knicks to their limits in a series that had Knicks fans having nightmares of losing once again. But the Knicks finally hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy after a seven-game thrilling series.
The Knicks didn’t make the 1971 finals and lost to Wilt Chamberlain and the LA Lakers in 1972.
But the 1973 finals was once again the Knicks moment, now with even more firepower and Hall-of-Famers Earl Munroe, Bill Bradley, and Jerry Lucas, they beat the Lakers and won their second championship.
10. Houston Rockets – 2 championships
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion.” Houston Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich initially yelled the saying, which is often quoted in many aspects of life after his team went back-to-back NBA champions in 1995.
The mid-90s Houston Rockets personified that quote. They were unlikely champions who somehow flipped the script two years in a row.
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is considered one of the best centers to play the game. He commanded and willed his Rockets teammates to go from “Choke City” to “Clutch City” when they came back from two games down against the Phoenix Suns in the Conference finals, and the writing was on the wall.
They faced the New York Knicks, who had just been purchased by Viacom, in a true big guy vs little guy story. It took seven games, but the Rockets pulled through and won their first title.
When everyone was calling it a fluke, especially after a mediocre 47-35 regular season the following year, the Rockets once again shocked the Basketball world by not only making it to the finals but upsetting the Shaquille O’Neil-led Orlando Magic in the process.