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Teams that have appeared in NBA Finals the most times
These are the NBA teams or franchises that have made it to the NBA Finals the most times. With their 100-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on 5-25-2011, the Dallas Mavericks have won the Western Conference Finals and punched their ticket to the franchise's second NBA Finals appearance (they lost to the Miami Heat in 2006).
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls will try to stay alive tonight, 5-26-2011, as they trail the Miami Heat three games to one. The Bulls have already made it to the NBA Finals enough times to appear on this list. The Heat have only made it once to the NBA Finals, in 2006 when they won their first and only NBA Championship, and will try to close out the Bulls tonight to make their second appearance.
My favorite NBA team, the New Jersey Nets, has appeared twice in the NBA Finals, in 2002 and 2003. Both times the Nets were led by point guard Jason Kidd(notes), who is now leading the Dallas Mavericks to their second NBA Finals appearance. Though the Nets have yet to win an NBA Championship, I always love it when the NBA Finals are on.
Teams The Have Appeared in the NBA Finals the Most Times
1. Los Angeles Lakers - 31
The Lakers franchise has appeared in a league best 31 NBA Finals. Six times the Lakers made it to the finals when they were based in Minneapolis. The Lakers went 5-1 when they played in Minnesota. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have appeared in another 25 NBA Finals, and gone 11-14. Combined, the Lakers franchise has an overall record of 16-15 in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960. As the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise lost the first seven times they appeared in the NBA Finals, six times to the Boston Celtics in the 1960's. In 1970, the Lakers lost in the finals to the New York Knicks. Finally, in 1972 the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks in the finals to claim their first championship in Los Angeles.
Since 1972, the Los Angeles Lakers have gone 11-7 in the NBA Finals. After winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, the Lakers were going for a three-peat in 2011, but the Dallas Mavericks swept them out of the playoffs in the second round.
After guiding the Lakers to five NBA Championships since 2000, head coach Phil Jackson retired. The Lakers just hired former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Mike Brown, to replace Jackson. He will be trying to fill some big shoes.
2. Boston Celtics - 21
The Boston Celtics have appeared in 21 NBA Finals. Overall, the Celtics have a 17-4 record in the finals. Without any doubt, the Celtics are the most successful franchise in NBA history. Their 17 titles is the most of any NBA franchise.
The Boston Celtics won their first NBA Championship in 1957 over the St. Louis Hawks. They lost to the Hawks in the 1958 Finals. From 1959 through 1966, the Celtics won eight consecutive titles. The Celtics lost their last NBA Finals appearance in 2010 to the Lakers. They won their last NBA Championship in 2008, when they defeated the Lakers.
2. Philadelphia 76ers - 9
The Philadelphia 76ers franchise started out as the Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals went 1-2 in the NBA Finals, winning a title in 1955 and losing in the finals in 1950 and 1954, before the franchise moved to Philadelphia in 1963.
Since moving to Philadelphia, the 76ers have gone 2-4 in the NBA Finals. So the franchise has an overall record of 3-6 in the NBA Finals. The Philadelphia 76ers last won an NBA Championship in 1983. Their last NBA Finals appearance was in 2001, when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
3. New York Knicks - 8
The New York Knicks have appeared in eight NBA Finals. They have an overall record of 2-6 in the finals. The Knicks won their only two NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973, defeating the Lakers both times. The entire 1973 New York Knicks starting lineup, Walt Frazier, Earl the Pearl Monroe, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere and Willis Reed, are all in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The New York Knicks lost in the NBA Finals in 1951 to 1953, 1972, 1994 and 1999. The 1999 team made the NBA Finals as the number eight seed, the first team to accomplish that feat. Phil Jackson was a member of both the 1970 and 1973 championship teams, though he was in injured and did not play in the 1970 finals.
4. Detroit Pistons - 7
The Detroit Pistons have appeared in the NBA Finals seven times, and have an overall record of 3-4. The Pistons franchise was located in Fort Wayne until 1957, when it moved to Detroit. While in Fort Wayne, the team made two NBA Finals in 1955 and 1956, and lost both times. Since moving to Detroit, the Pistons have gone 3-2 in the NBA Finals, winning championships in 1989, 1990 and 2004, while losing the finals in 1988 and 2005.
T-5. Chicago Bulls - 6
The Chicago Bulls, led by the incomparable Michael Jordan, appeared in the NBA Finals consecutively from 1991 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998, and won every single time. The Bulls are 6-0 in the NBA Finals.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen starred on all six championship teams, and both are in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Dennis Rodman was on the 1996 to 1998 teams, and was elected to the hall of fame in 2011. Though he didn't play much, hall of fame player Robert Parish was on the 1997 championship team.
If Michael Jordan had not retired after the 1993 season, and sat out most of the 1994 and 1995 seasons, would the Bulls have won eight consecutive championships?
T-5. Golden State Warriors - 6
The Golden State Warriors franchise started out as the Philadelphia Warriors (1946 to 1962), then became the San Francisco Warriors (1962 to 1971) and finally became the Golden State Warriors in 1972. In Philadelphia, the franchise went 2-1 in the NBA Finals (technically they won their first championship in 1947 in the BAA, the predecessor of the NBA).
As the San Francisco Warriors the franchise went 0-2 in the finals, losing in 1964 and 1967. As the Golden State Warriors the franchise went 1-0 in the finals, winning the 1975 NBA Championship.
Teams that have appeared in four NBA Finals include the San Antonio Spurs (won all four times), Houston Rockets (2-2), Atlanta/St. Louis Hawks (1-3) and Washington Wizards/Baltimore and Washington Bullets (1-3).
Teams with three NBA Finals appearances include the Portland Trail Blazers (1-2) and Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle Supersonics (1-2, all as the Supersonics).
Along with my New Jersey Nets (0-2), and now the Dallas Mavericks, other teams with two NBA Finals appearances include the Milwaukee Bucks (1-1), Phoenix Suns (0-2), Utah Jazz (0-2) and Orlando Magic (0-2).
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