Over the many years in the NBA, most teams have been forced to make major changes. So which teams have undergone the most change? Which fanbase has had the rockiest relationship with their favorite team?
Since the merger of the BAA and the NBL to form the National Basketball Association, there have been massive alterations to professional basketball. Teams have changed and adjusted over the years, from their names to their cities. We’ve seen teams added to the NBA, and we’ve seen new owners take control of their teams.
Whether it’s in the past or present, problems with instability directly correlate to how successful the team is. None of the five most unstable teams in the NBA have had a ton of success in their history—especially not compared to teams with little complications or changes.
Although the New Orleans Hornets have only been a part of the NBA since 1988, they have already passed through three separate cities, and used five different home stadiums (two of those were very temporary).
In 1988, entrepreneur George Shinn decided to start the Hornets in Charlotte, NC. They stayed there for 14 years, and didn’t have much success.
In 2002, the Hornets made their move to New Orleans. Unfortunately, their success in New Orleans was hindered by Hurricane Katrina. Forced to relocate, they temporarily stayed in Oklahoma City, becoming the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. In 2008, they returned to New Orleans.
Most recently, the Hornets were purchased from George Shinn by the NBA in 2010. After a year of being owned by the NBA, the Hornets were once again sold—this time to Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints.
Right now, the future is looking up for the Hornets. In the 2012 NBA Draft, they managed to nab top draft choice Anthony Davis, and the high-caliber scorer Austin Rivers.
Even though the Brooklyn Nets really haven’t moved around significantly since they were founded in 1967, they’ve managed to go through 20 different head coaches and eight different home courts.
The Nets were first established as the New Jersey Americans by trucking mogul Arthur Brown, and played in the ABA. In 1968, the Americans were changed to the New York Nets. They were actually pretty good at that time, managing to win two ABA championships.
After the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, the Nets only stayed in New York for a year before becoming the New Jersey Nets. Although they never managed to win a championship, they made two NBA Finals appearances.
Judging by most recent changes, the Nets might be the most relevant team on this list. Just this offseason, in 2012, the New Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn, and became the Brooklyn Nets.
Currently the Nets are led by Deron Williams, one of the better players in the league. In addition to the new city, the Nets have also made waves this offseason, acquiring six-time All-Star Joe Johnson.
In 1946, the Atlanta Hawks became a member of the NBL, as the Buffalo Bisons. In the 66 years since then, the Hawks have won just one NBA championship. They have also employed a whopping 27 head coaches, gone through five cities and used three different names.
After just 13 games of playing in Buffalo, the Buffalo Bisons decided to move to Moline, Illinois becoming the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.
During that time period was when they were part of the NBL-BAA merger, and became one of the first 17 teams that formed the NBA.
During the next decade, they moved twice. First becoming the Milwaukee Hawks in 1951 when they relocated to Milwaukee; then again in 1955, when they made the move to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Hawks.
They stayed in St. Louis until 1968, when businessman Thomas Cousins and politician Carl Sanders bought the team from Ben Kerner, and moved them to Atlanta—where they still reside.
As far as the Hawks current team goes, they traded away All-Star Joe Johnson this offseason. Although they’re likely still going to be a solid team in the Southeast division, the team is going to miss his offensive production.
The Sacramento Kings started in playing in National Basketball League in 1945 as the Rochester Royals. In their time as a professional basketball organization, the Sacramento Kings have gone through five names, four cities and 24 head coaches.
They enjoyed success in the NBL, earning a championship title in their first year. After they made the transition to the NBA in 1948 though, things became a bit tougher.
Although they did manage to win the NBA Finals in 1951, they struggled with finances, and in 1957 were forced to move to Cincinnati; becoming the Cincinnati Royals.
In 1972, they made the move to Kansas City, but split home games between Kansas City and Omaha. They also changed their name to the Kings—thus becoming the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. In 1975, they left Omaha behind, and became just the Kansas City Kings.
They finally moved to Sacramento in 1986, where as of now, they still are.
In 2011, it was announced that the Kings had attempted to move to Anaheim. While that didn’t work out, it was later reported that the Kings were interested in moving to Virginia Beach. While all of that is merely speculation at this point, the rumors and reports of relocation make the Kings currently the most unstable team in the NBA.
The Washington Wizards have done little else than change in their time in the NBA. Over the years, they have changed their name six times, gone through four different cities, five separate arenas and employed 23 different head coaches.
They began in 1961, when the Chicago Packers were created as an NBA expansion team. It took just one year for them to change their name to the Chicago Zephyrs.
(From my understanding, Zephyr is either the Greek God of the west wind, or a code name for lung cancer)
After waiting another year, the “Zephyrs” changed once again in 1963. This time, they moved to Baltimore, and became the Baltimore Bullets. They managed to hang on to this identity for a full decade.
At this point, in 1973, they stayed in Maryland, but they moved from Baltimore to Landover, Maryland, and changed from the Baltimore Bullets to the Capitol Bullets.
They changed again in 1974, one year later. As to not be confused with the Washington Capitals, they changed their name to the Washington Bullets. Not only did they stay the Washington Bullets for 23 years, but they also managed to win their only championship in 1978.
In 1997, due to the violent nature of their city, they dropped the Bullets, and became the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards currently have a talented roster, with John Wall and Nene leading the team. Hopefully we won’t be seeing anymore changes in the near future!