As I was pondering the recent off-season moves in the NBA, I began to make a mental checklist of each team’s transactions. I thought about my favorite teams, the contenders, and the recent newsmakers. Knowing that I hadn’t thought of all thirty teams, I began to wonder which franchises were the most forgettable.
Not having the resources or desire to conduct surveys in which people would be asked to recall NBA teams, I opted for the next best and equally scientific approach of asking the Internet.
I used Google’s search engine (www.google.com) to search for a team’s complete name without quotations (i.e. San Antonio Spurs). Then , I recorded the number of pages that Google said were found for each query.
Keep in mind that this is based on pages in general, not just news.
As of July 11, 2008. Here are the results
July 11, 2008 Google Hits
1. Boston Celtics
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Miami Heat
5. Detroit Pistons
6. Phoenix Suns
7. San Antonio Spurs
8. Dallas Mavericks
9. Utah Jazz
10. Orlando Magic
11. Houston Rockets
12. Cleveland Cavaliers
14. New York Knicks
15. Atlanta Hawks
16. Golden State Warriors
17. Toronto Raptors
18. New Jersey Nets
19. Oklahoma City (Seattle SuperSonics)
20. Philadelphia 76ers
21. Washington Wizards
22. Sacramento Kings
23. Milwaukee Bucks
24. Indiana Pacers
25. Portland Trail Blazers
26. Memphis Grizzlies
27. Los Angeles Clippers
28. New Orleans Hornets
29. Minnesota Timberwolves
30. Charlotte Bobcats
Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m a nerdy science guy, but there are clearly some trends here that are fascinating. The top two teams are the defending conference champions and arguably the two most storied franchises in the league.
Spots three and four belong to the two winners of the Rose-Beasley lottery held last month. The roughly 1 billion draft prognostications of the last 90 days likely influence these numbers, although both are major markets that have won titles in the last decade.
Rounding out the top 10 (Tie: Houston and Orlando) are all playoff teams for the last few seasons and also the rest of the Finals champions since 1983 (Spurs, Rockets, and Pistons).
At the other end of the spectrum, there are some equally intriguing results. The bottom ten is loaded with “small markets” such as Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Sacramento. However, these squads still leave a larger digital footprint than the five that the Internet forgot.
The bottom five teams, all with less than 4 million pages, are perennial ping pong ball participants. The Hornets had a great season and were newsworthy for other reasons the previous season. In spite of this, they have yet to rise to the same level of recognition or develop the same fan base as the NBA’s elite.
The team’s move in 2002 could be partly to blame (as could the Grizzlies’ relocation and Bobcats’ expansion) for the small amount of pages. Considering that rampant blogging and website production is a creation of the last couple of years, it is more likely that these teams simply lack fan support.
What these numbers really show is something that David Stern and his suits in New York constantly try and hide.
Despite a salary cap and a playoff system that gives over half the league a shot at the title, the NBA is lacking in parity. Celtics and Lakers have combined to win half of the titles, while seven franchises have monopolized the last 25 titles.
Sure, there are going to be teams that try and break the mold and make pushes towards dominance (1995 Magic, 2004 Timberwolves), but they are often assembled to try and win it all in a given season without regard to the franchise’s future by simply fading away.
Unwaveringly, the league remains a star-centered showcase, where shrewd GMs can build dynasties around single players with these top teams compete year in and year out. T
he relative digital footprints of these teams are reflective of this because nothing garners fans and support quite like winning.