Ranking the NBA's All-Time Franchises
The NBA's greatest franchises, who's first between the Lakers and the Celtics? Who are after them? The ranking process will heavily favor team championships, but also look at the quality of players and depth the franchise has had.
Not to mention, the quality of those championship teams will be looked at (ex. '83 Sixers being better than a random '48 Bullets team) and other various factors that will be looked at when ranking the greatest NBA franchises.
There will also be a "An All-Time Lineup," after every analysis, but just a rough list with no real background to the choices.
Hope you enjoy, and I'm sure the list will create some controversy, and spark good debate.
1. The Boston Celtics
The franchise with most NBA Championships in NBA history - 17 to be exact (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008).
From Bill Russell to Dave Cowens, then the legendary Larry Bird, and of course today's current squad with the best trio in the NBA, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett.
Only in the 90's did they face a halt in their championship pursuit, but with the greatest dynasty in all of sports, one of the greatest 80's rivalries of all time with the Lakers and the Celtics, and one of the most underrated teams to have played—the 70's Celtics, they earn the right to be first team on the list.
PG - Bob Cousy - Dennis Johnson
SG - John Havlicek - Sam Jones
SF - Larry Bird - Paul Pierce
PF - Kevin Garnett - Kevin McHale
C - Bill Russell - Robert Parish
*McHale on the bench, not because of lesser Celtic career, but more so because McHale is proven off the bench and in terms of single season, McHale has never had a season as good as KG's 2008 campaign.
2. The Los Angeles Lakers
Including Minneapolis or not, the Lakers have the second most championships in NBA History. (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009)
The greatest show on the planet in the Showtime Lakers, led by the greatest PG to have ever played the game.
The Lakers certainly don't lack in terms of star talent, in fact on stars alone, they'd be the greatest franchise in NBA History. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'neal, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and James Worthy are just a few illustrious careers that have been played with the Lakers.
They were a dominant team in the 60's, but were unable to get the prized championship due to Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics.
But with Wilt, West and Goodrich in the early 70's, the Lakers finally got that NBA championship and from that point on have been the best franchise in NBA History, winning 5 in the 80's with Kareem and Magic, then the three-peat with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, and as early as last season with first time Finals MVP Kobe Bryant and his new sidekick, Pau Gasol.
The model of showtime, flair, star players with championship pedigree gets the Lakers a consensus #2 position, and a large argument towards being first.
PG - Magic Johnson - Gail Goodrich
SG - Jerry West - Elgin Baylor
SF - Kobe Bryant - James Worthy
PF - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Pau Gasol
C - Shaquille O'Neal - Wilt Chamberlain
*I understand players are out of position, but tried to fit in all the Lakers greats (the likes of Mikan couldn't even make the list) and this is the most possible way.
3. The Chicago Bulls
I was contemplated to bump this team down some, aside from the 90's, the Bulls have been stuck in mediocrity or been a lottery team without No. 23 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998).
But I couldn't pass up on a team that completely dominated an era, with who is widely considered to be the greatest player to have ever played the game of basketball.
Even with their only championship success being in the 90's, they are still the team with the third most championships in NBA history.
And while no success in the 70's, they had a very good defensive team that was a threat to win 50 games nearly every season.
Norm Van Lier, Artis Gilmore, Nate Thurmond, Jerry Sloan, and Chet Walker are other big names to have played for the Bulls franchise.
PG - Norm Van Lier - Kirk Hinrich?
SG - Michael Jordan - Reggie Theus
SF - Scottie Pippen - Chet Walker
PF - Dennis Rodman - Bob Love
C - Artis Gilmore - Tom Boerwinkle
4. The San Antonio Spurs
The model of consistency throughout this decade, led by the greatest PF to have ever played the game. Has won 50 games nearly every year that I can remember, and regardless of supporting cast, or second options, that anchor in the middle has always been the same (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007).
I also contemplated bumping them down in the favor of a team that has won in multiple eras, but the consistency, defense, and relationship between a player and coach is on elite levels. Not to mention they have a decent resume before Duncan came on board.
In the 70's they had George Gervin, one of the league's top scorers, and later the addition of Artis Gilmore, the Spurs reached the Western Conference Finals, but never ultimately the finals.
Similar story in the 80's and early 90's, as David Robinson was the man in the Alamo. A Defensive Player of the Year, an MVP, and one of the greatest centers to have ever played the game, it was one of the best moments in NBA History when he was able to team up with Duncan and finally win that prized NBA Championship.
From what was originally an ABA Franchise, the Spurs have come a long way.
Yes, it looks like I'm going by the teams with the most champions, but trust me that changes the next slide.
PG - Tony Parker - James Silas
SG - Manu Ginobili - Alvin Robertson
SF - George Gervin - Bruce Bowen
PF - Tim Duncan - Larry Kenon
C - David Robinson - Artis Gilmore
*Again, some players out of position, but Gervin was certainly capable of playing the SF position.
5. The Detroit Pistons
The Bad Boys, three NBA championships in total, repeating back to back in the 80's (a time where the Celtics and Lakers ruled the world), and of course as recently as 2004 with one of the greatest balanced attacks the NBA has seen.
In the 80's, the Pistons set the tone. While everyone was talking about Magic's Lakers, or Bird's Celtics, the Pistons quietly won two NBA championships with a group of hard workers and intimidating defenders.
Led by one of the greatest PG's to ahve played, Isiah was the catalyst and leaders, paired with Joe Dumars created one of the best backcourts to have played.
In 2004, the Pistons replicated nearly the same thing, led by their backcourt of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, with strong upfront and interior defense, the Pistons were able to shock the world in not only beating the heavily favored Lakers, but beat them handily.
I'm a big fan of teams that were able to win it in different eras, and the Pistons were able to do that with their own unique twists on things.
In the 60's, late 70's, they were also a respected team with all-stars in Dave Bing and Bob Lanier.
PG - Isiah Thomas - Chauncey Billups
SG - Joe Dumars - Dave Bing
SF - Dennis Rodman - Grant Hill
PF - Rasheed Wallace - Dave DeBusschere
C - Bob Lanier - Ben Wallace - Bill Laimbeer
6. The Philadelphia 76ers
Including the Syracuse Nationals, the franchise in total has three NBA championships, with two of the greatest teams ever assembled, the 1967, and 1983 Philadelphia 76ers led by the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, and Julius Erving.
The 67 Sixers were one of two teams to have ever beaten the Celtics, and the reason being was Wilt Chamberlain transforming himself into a defensive monster, and offensive anchor that could run your offense with his passing ability.
It also helped with a tremendous supporting cast with the likes of Billy Cunningham, Luke Jackson, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker.
In the 80's, the Sixers were always the contenders, but once they acquired Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets, they took off and immediately won the NBA championship.
With amazing defense, and efficient offense, it was a sum of all parts that created the "Fo Fo Fo 76ers."
Julius Erving, Moses Malone aforementioned, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, and the "Boston Stranger," Andrew Toney were only some of the names that highlighted that team.
In the late 90's, and most of the 2000's, the Sixers were led by one of the greatest little man scorers to have ever played the game, in Allen Iverson.
I'll be honest that I'm not the biggest fan of his style of play, but what he was able to accomplish with a Finals berth, and an MVP, the accolades are undeniable.
PG - Maurice Cheeks - Hal Greer
SG - Allen Iverson - Andrew Toney
SF - Julius Erving - Billy Cunningham - Bobby Jones
PF - Charles Barkley - Dolph Schayes
C - Wilt Chamberlain - Moses Malone
*Greer out of position, but due to wanting Toney on the team as well, he'll be moved to PG.
7. The New York Knicks
Really wanted to put the Knicks higher than this, the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden, epic battles between the Lakers in the 70's, or nail biting games against the Bulls in the 90's, the Knicks have been one of the most entertaining teams in NBA History.
The 70's Knicks were a joy to watch, terrific passing, amazing star power, great defense, and all rounded solid play. As Frazier summed it up, "Willis provided the inspiration, while I provided the devastation." As flashy a team as any, but yet as fundamentally sound as any as well.
In the 90's, led by Patrick Ewing, the Knicks had one of the strongest defenses the league has seen. Unfortunately facing the GOAT and Michael Jordan, the Knicks were never able to get that elusive NBA championship.
They had their golden chance when Jordan retired, and they took advantage by getting to the Finals, but losing in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Houston Rockets, where John Starks unfortunately gets his choker reputation.
They were also able to reach the finals once again with a hardworking crew as the 8th seed, but unable to win the championship against a young Tim Duncan and hungry David Robinson for their first championship in franchise history.
In the 00's, they've basically been a non-factor, but maybe that can change in 2010 (wink).
PG - Walt Frazier - Michael Ray Richardson
SG - Earl Monroe - Allan Houston
SF - Bernard King - Tom Gola
PF - Dave DeBusschere - Charles Oakley
C - Patrick Ewing - Willis Reed
8. The Houston Rockets
Homer pick? Possibly, but two NBA championships in the 90's, granted Jordan was retired, they beat two teams led by two other all-time great centers in Shaq's Magic, and Ewing's Knicks.
Teams like the Jazz, Suns, Sonics, Knicks, or Heat weren't able to capitalize, so why should the Rockets be penalized.
When looking at the remaining contenders for this spot, the Warriors won a championship in 75 and two more pre-1956, but really, no Jordan or not, the competition at the time, was greater than the league at that stage of its existence. And since 75, the Warriors have been stuck as the bottom dwellers of the NBA.
The Bullets are in a similar position, winning a championship in 1978 with Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld, and another one in 1948.
But with the Rockets having a history of making the finals twice before their back to back championships and also having all time greats such as Moses Malone, and Elvin Hayes, the Rockets would get the 8th spot on my list.
PG - Calvin Murphy - Kenny Smith/Steve Francis
SG - Clyde Drexler - Tracy McGrady
SF - Rudy Tomjanavich - Mike Newlin
PF - Moses Malone - Elvin Hayes
C - Hakeem Olajuwon - Yao Ming