Which NBA Fanbase Has Been the Most Loyal During the Past 15 Years?

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 31, 2015

Which NBA Fanbase Has Been the Most Loyal During the Past 15 Years?

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Get out your pitchforks. 

    Only one team in the NBA can boast the league's most loyal fans, and that will inevitably upset 29 other fanbases. But just a single organization deserves the title, earning the No. 1 spot in this countdown by a substantial margin that results from the undying support it's received through plenty of on-court struggles. 

    In order to measure a fanbase's loyalty, we're remaining entirely objective—with one exception—and looking at the percent error between two different numbers.

    First, we have a team's actual attendance figures at home from the turn of the century through the end of the 2014-15 campaign. We're not worried about crowd noise, social-media presence or anything of that ilk, but rather how many fans bother to shell out the dollars necessary to actually attend a contest for their favorite team. 

    Second, we have expected home attendance, which is based entirely on a team's record during the regular season. After looking at actual attendance and win percentage during each of the last 15 seasons, we found a best-fit line that allows us to see what a team's crowd should look like during any given season. 

    Exceed those expectations consistently, and your loyalty looks good. Fail to meet them, and you're falling down in the ranks. 

    However, before moving on to the countdown, there are a few necessary caveats. We can't account for the financial well-being of less affluent fanbases or include ticket prices. Attendance is all that matters, even if that comes at the expense of the factors outside of team success that drive people to purchase tickets.

    Additionally, it's more difficult for teams to stand out when they've experienced long-standing success, since teams can only squeeze so many people into an arena. If one organization is expected to have 80 percent attendance, and another is at 95 percent, the former has more of an opportunity to exceed those hopes because of the upper bound in attendance.

    Now, put away your pitchforks and keep in mind that it's the fanbases who control attendance, not this writer. 

Nos. 30-26

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    David Dow/Getty Images

    30. Atlanta Hawks

    Actual Home Attendance: 79.2 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 88 percent

    It's tough to find pictures of Atlanta Hawks fans without the supporters of another team showing up in the background—or even the foreground, on occasion. Though Philips Arena puts on a show during home games, the seats are typically filled with many supporting the opposition, and chants for members of the visiting team can often be heard rattling throughout the rafters of the Highlight Factory. 

    Even with that outside boost in attendance, the Hawks still haven't come close to meeting the expectations. For these rankings, Atlanta simply has the worst possible combination: a city rife with indifference toward a team that's been good but not quite good enough to have legitimate title hopes. 

    29. Memphis Grizzlies

    Actual Home Attendance: 74.6 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 83.9 percent

    Is the problem here boredom? The Memphis Grizzlies have boasted a competitive roster for a while now, relying on continuity to keep them in the Western Conference playoff picture, but the lack of novelty might be pushing fans away. 

    For the last three years, the Grizz have filled up slightly more than 90 percent of their home arena, but they've still failed to meet the expectations. After all, attendance above 95 percent has been required to break even, based on the ability to rack up one win after another. 

    28. Philadelphia 76ers

    Actual Home Attendance: 81.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 88.2 percent

    The Philadelphia 76ers haven't exactly motivated their fans to attend games in recent years because of general manager Sam Hinkie's rebuilding strategy. But it's not like supporters from the City of Brotherly Love have flocked to home games in a long while either.

    While Allen Iverson was still in town, the Sixers drew big crowds. But that started to change during his final full year in Philadelphia (2005-06), and the attendance plummeted further during the very next season, dropping from 80.8 to 72.6 percent in one fell swoop. 

    27. Indiana Pacers

    Actual Home Attendance: 85.6 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 91.6 percent

    "Five years later, after the team's 28th regular-season sellout Sunday, it can be said, decisively and assuredly: No more. A half-empty Bankers Life Fieldhouse dotted with pockets of Bulls red or Laker purple seem a distant memory," Zak Keefer wrote for IndyStar.com while the Indiana Pacers were nearing the finish line in their quest for the No. 1 seed during the 2013-14 season. "Now, the Pacers are winning. Now, gold stretches from the front row to the rafters."

    But that's not what we're concerned about here. Good teams should have good attendance figures, and it's more troubling that the Pacers weren't able to fill up the building during the down years. In fact, even in 2013-14, Indiana's home attendance was 96.3 percent; based on the wins, the expectations stood at 96.9 percent. 

    Notably, the Pacers haven't exceeded the projections since the Malice at the Palace broke up the 2004-05 squad. The city hasn't seemed to fully forgive that inexplicable travesty.

    26. Detroit Pistons

    Actual Home Attendance: 85.1 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 90.6 percent

    The Detroit Pistons have been a leading source of empty gyms for a while now. Though fans turned up to support the teams that were actually competitive during the middle of the 2000s, they quickly departed as the team began to decline. 

    During the 2010-11 season, only 75.5 percent of the Palace of Auburn Hills was filled up. Since then, attendance has fallen below 70 percent each and every year, leaving an embarrassingly empty arena to greet opponents on a nightly basis.

    Sure, the team hasn't been very good, but that's still an inexcusably poor turnout. 

Nos. 25-21

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    25. Charlotte Hornets

    Actual Home Attendance: 79.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 84.9 percent

    We're only going back to the 2004-05 season when the Charlotte Bobcats joined the mix. But that's not exactly good news for the organization that has since become the Hornets and now doesn't draw nearly enough attention to the fantastic honeycomb floor in the Time Warner Cable Arena. 

    The rebranding efforts did help push attendance figures over 90 percent for the first time this past season, but that doesn't make up for the indifference in years past. Before the 2011-12 team set records for futility, there were exciting players in place, and wins weren't all that rare. But fans were, and that's the problem here. 

    24. Milwaukee Bucks

    Actual Home Attendance: 84.1 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 87.9 percent

    The trend is scary for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are only falling further down in the standings as time moves forward. Though the crowds were more than respectable in the early 2000s and during the Michael Redd years, they've all but disappeared recently. 

    Thing is, this team hasn't been bad enough to deserve so many empty seats, with 2013-14 serving as the lone exception to the rule. During the most recent campaign, the Bucks couldn't even break past the 80 percent barrier despite holding down a playoff spot throughout the season. A few years back, the combination of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings wasn't exciting enough, despite also leading to a spot in the Eastern Conference postseason. 

    23. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Actual Home Attendance: 83.4 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 86.8 percent

    The Minnesota Timberwolves have gone through four mini-eras since the start of the 2000-01 season: the Kevin Garnett era, the post-Garnett doldrums, the Kevin Love years and the beginning of Andrew Wiggins' career. 

    They've exceeded the expectations during exactly none of them.

    Sure, the Target Center came close to filling up while Garnett was in his heyday, but the attendance figures still didn't match the levels they should've reached for a team in competition for the top spot in the Western Conference. Only during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season did the actual numbers surpass the projections by a significant margin, and that doesn't bode well for Minnesota's spot in this countdown, especially after failing to hit 80 percent during Wiggins' rookie go-round. 

    22. Denver Nuggets

    Actual Home Attendance: 87.3 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 90.8 percent

    The biggest problem is that the Denver Nuggets aren't the Denver Broncos. 

    Even though the Pepsi Center is widely known as one of the arenas that produce the biggest home-court advantage, that's not exactly because the building fills up on a consistent basis. Those in attendance are generally passionate about their local squad, but there are plenty of empty seats littered throughout the stands, and it's the altitude that often makes Denver such a formidable opponent. 

    Home-court records, counterintuitive as it may seem, are not always indicators of a fanbase's long-standing loyalty.

    21. Houston Rockets

    Actual Home Attendance: 88.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 92.2 percent

    The Houston Rockets' group of supporters has emerged as a confident bunch that isn't afraid to defend itself vociferously at any perceived slight, but this is a fairly recent development. Few fanbases have been better in recent years, and the team's attendance has actually been over capacity during each of the last two seasons. 

    The problem comes early in our time frame.

    Even though the Rockets have been quite competitive for the entirety of the last 15 years, they didn't always have fans showing up to support them. Not until 2007-08 did they hit 90 percent attendance, even though Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming had already been leading them to playoff berths. 

Nos. 20-16

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    20. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Actual Home Attendance: 87.7 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 89 percent

    Let us examine the LeBron James effect. 

    During the 2002-03 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers' expected attendance stood at 78.8 percent. In reality, the actual figure was a putrid 55.9. Then James came to town, and the former number rose to 87.2. Correspondingly, the actual attendance rose as well, skyrocketing all the way to 88.9 percent. 

    Cleveland has done a fantastic job of supporting the quality teams it's had a chance to cheer for in the last decade-and-a-half. The lackluster squads and those that have been even worse? Not so much. 

    19. Phoenix Suns

    Actual Home Attendance: 91.4 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 92.2 percent

    The Phoenix Suns faithful never seemed to fully appreciate the beautiful basketball that was being played in front of them during the run-and-gun era of the "Seven Seconds or Less" squad. When Steve Nash was winning MVPs in 2005 and 2006 alongside Shawn Marion and Amar'e Stoudemire, fans turned out in droves, but they still didn't achieve consistent sellouts for a team that deserved them.

    Take that 2004-05 campaign as an example. Based on the on-court success, the Suns should've seen their home court filled up to the rafters—99.7 percent attendance was the projection. But in reality, Phoenix "only" hit 93.1 percent that year. 

    18. Washington Wizards

    Actual Home Attendance: 85.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 86.5 percent

    Michael Jordan was the saving grace for the Washington Wizards. 

    If we only looked at the two seasons that he spent playing in the nation's capital, this franchise would've earned the No. 2 spot in this countdown, emerging as one of only two organizations to exceed the expectations by double digits. But if we take 2001-02 and 2002-03 out of the equation, the picture is much bleaker, as Washington would've fallen all the way down into the bottom 10. 

    That's just the latest confirmation that Jordan was a rather powerful figure as an NBA player.

    17. New Orleans Pelicans

    Actual Home Attendance: 89.7 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 89 percent

    Anthony Davis has done a lot of nice things for this franchise, but his biggest achievement may well be getting the bayou to flock to what's now called the Smoothie King Center. Even when Chris Paul and David West were patrolling the court and making All-Star squads together, this organization had trouble filling out buildings on a consistent basis. NOLA nearly had perfect attendance during the 2005-06 and 2008-09 campaigns, but the ones in between saw inexplicable dips. 

    Now, New Orleans basketball is back.

    In each of the last two seasons, the Pelicans haven't been anything more than a fringe playoff squad, but the fanbase has treated them like a true contender, filling up the building and drowning out the noise stemming from any visiting fans who happen to be in the stands. 

    16. Miami Heat

    Actual Home Attendance: 94.2 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 92.1 percent

    Contrary to popular belief, the Miami Heat fanbase hasn't exactly qualified as a fair-weather one. Since Dwyane Wade's rookie season, when South Beach had an embarrassing turnout for a legitimately exciting team that ended up making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, it's failed to meet the expectations only once. 

    That came during the 2009-10 campaign, when the Heat were good but not great. Though Wade was healthy and in his prime, the roster was fairly stale and didn't produce too much excitement for the supporters. 

    But outside of that season, the Heat haven't done much to promote the misconceived notion that fans only support the best teams—other than showing up late for games, on occasion. 

Nos. 15-11

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    Don Ryan/Associated Press

    15. Golden State Warriors

    Actual Home Attendance: 90.3 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 88.2 percent

    "I'm not so sure the decibel level is legal, and I'm serious," New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said after losing Game 1 in Oracle Arena during the first round of the 2015 playoffs, per ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh. "They've done studies on that. For the competition committee, there's got to be something to that. It does get a little out of hand. Their fans, I've talked about it for years, they have some of the best fans in the league."

    He's right about the last sentence. The Golden State Warriors have boasted some of the best, most passionate fans for years now, and they've emerged as an organization that truly deserved to have the four-decade title drought come to a close. 

    But we're interested in more than the last handful of seasons here, and it's impossible to overlook the conspicuously empty arenas of the early 2000s. Even though the team wasn't a contender, it still deserved more attendance than it received—and by a rather significant margin. 

    14. Sacramento Kings

    Actual Home Attendance: 91 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 88.7 percent

    The Sacramento Kings have the opposite problem. 

    During the early portion of our time frame, fans turned out in droves to support a highly competitive Western Conference squad boasting plenty of entertaining talents. Eager to see Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and others, they achieved 100 percent attendance from 2000-01 through 2006-07, even as the team steadily declined toward the tail end of that period. 

    But lately, things haven't been so rosy. Up until the last two seasons, when eagerness to keep the team in Sacramento and set decibel records has driven fans to attend games, it's been a struggle to fill up seats on a consistent basis. 

    13. Boston Celtics

    Actual Home Attendance: 93.6 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 91.2 percent

    Given the historical appeal of this franchise and the competitive nature it enjoys most seasons, it's a bit surprising that the Boston Celtics haven't always managed to play in front of sellout crowds. They've tended to hit triple digits when teams are highly competitive and capable of adding to the myriad championships boasted by this organization, but that has not always been the case. 

    Now that we're nearing the top 10, it's vital to have few down years, and that's the downfall of the C's. During the early 2000s, not everyone wanted to come see Antoine Walker lofting up ill-advised triples, and attendance slipped down into the low and mid-80s.

    That's just not going to cut it here. 

    12. Orlando Magic

    Actual Home Attendance: 92.4 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 89.4 percent

    Orlando Magic supporters don't typically get bandied about in discussions about the most passionate fanbases in the NBA, but they still manage to come out and cheer on their squad on a consistent basis. During the Dwight Howard years, they routinely filled up the Amway Center, and they've remained quite faithful during the ensuing rebuilding process. 

    The Magic haven't boasted any franchise-changing, transcendent young players in recent years, despite how talented some of the developing contributors—Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and more—may be. Still, fans have supported a mediocre team, and attendance for a bottom-feeding squad hasn't dipped below 86.2 percent since 2004-05. 

    11. Portland Trail Blazers

    Actual Home Attendance: 94.1 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 90.7 percent

    Whether their home arena has been called the Rose Garden or the Moda Center, Portland Trail Blazers fans have shown up frequently to support their hometown squad. Through thick and thin, this has been a loud, passionate fanbase that knows when to cheer and, most importantly for our purposes, how to buy tickets. 

    After the "Jail Blazers" broke up, there was a bit of a lull. But the presence of Brandon Roy, who once trended toward becoming the next big thing at shooting guard, quickly changed that, and fans flocked to see him play before his knees essentially gave out. 

    Since then, Portland has always been rather loud. Attendance peaked at a recorded 102.6 and 102.7 percent during every season between 2008-09 and 2011-12, and it hasn't dipped much since. 

    The true test will come during the 2015-16 campaign, as the Blazers lost many of their starters through trades and free agency, plunging themselves into a rebuilding period for the first time in a while. But based on their history, these fans will still show their faces throughout the year. 

10. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Actual Home Attendance: 91.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 88.5 percent

    Even though Los Angeles Clippers fans have led a rather tortured existence up until Chris Paul joined Blake Griffin and helped pull this organization out of decades of doldrums, they've never stopped showing up to games in respectable numbers. 

    In our time frame, the 2000-01 season stands out as an anomaly, since it's the only time the Clippers didn't have close to 85 percent or more of the building filled up throughout a campaign. And that's understandable, since LAC had won a combined 24 games during the previous two go-rounds, which didn't exactly fill even its most faithful fans with much confidence. 

    Keep in mind that the Clippers made the playoffs only once before Paul's presence sparked postseason appearances during each of the last four seasons, all of which featured more than 100 percent attendance. Despite that period of long-standing futility, the Staples Center has still seen 90 percent of the seats filled more often than not. 

    Context is vitally important in this countdown, and it only makes the actual home attendance of this organization all the more impressive. On the flip side, it's also worth noting this is where some of the uncontrollable factors come into play, since the Clippers do receive a boost in attendance from Los Angeles residents who are unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices levied by a purple-and-gold organization but still want to attend NBA games. 

9. Brooklyn Nets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Actual Home Attendance: 94.8 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 91.2 percent

    Fortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, we're not including the years they spent playing before sparse crowds in New Jersey. If we did, they'd plummet all the way down toward the bottom of the rankings, beating out only the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies, which isn't much of an accomplishment. 

    But ever since Mikhail Prokhorov brought the Nets into the Big Apple and hosted them at the Barclays Center, they've done nothing but play decent basketball in front of packed crowds: 

    SeasonRecordExpected AttendanceActual Attendance

    Whether the Nets maintain these impressive numbers when the novelty of the team has worn off is a legitimate question. But for now, there's no reason to doubt the passion of the fans who have supported an expensive, but limited, roster. 

8. Toronto Raptors

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Actual Home Attendance: 92.5 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 87.9 percent

    The Toronto Raptors faithful have always been rather passionate. And considering one team now represents an entire country in the not-so-immediate wake of the Memphis Grizzlies moving from Vancouver, that makes perfect sense.

    To use an example from a different sport, David Price said "Entire country rooting for us!" in a tweet after the Detroit Tigers traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2015 MLB deadline. The same sentiment applies in the world of the NBA. Of course, the Raptors are going to challenge the seating capacity of the Air Canada Centre on a regular basis. 

    Whether the Raptors are bad, good or mediocre, their fans show up to support them. Only twice in the last 15 years has the actual home attendance fallen below the expectations, and never by a significant margin. The worst they've ever done came in 2013-14, when they fell exactly 1 percent shy. 

    Terrence Ross might want to ease up a bit

7. Utah Jazz

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Actual Home Attendance: 96 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 91 percent

    Apparently, Utah Jazz fans are desperate to be a part of the first championship run in franchise history. Even when the team is struggling, they refuse to stop showing up, supporting plenty of lackluster teams that surrounded the Deron Williams era in Salt Lake City, after Karl Malone and John Stockton had already left town.

    In fact, the Utah Jazz are the first organization in these rankings that has exceeded the expectations during each and every season of the 15-year period. There are literally no exceptions.

    The closest call came all the way back in 2000-01, when the two biggest stars in franchise history were still on the roster but nearing their 40th birthdays. Eventually winning 53 games before they were eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Jazz were expected to have 95.5 percent attendance at home. They had "only" 97 percent in the building then known as the Delta Center.

    Granted, fewer fans have turned out in the following years, but the team hasn't always been so strong, either. Though attendance has never dipped into the 80s, it's been justifiable even when it has fallen into the low 90s, however rarely that may occur. 

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Actual Home Attendance: 99.5 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 94.1 percent

    Even if the Seattle SuperSonics had a passionate fanbase that didn't deserve to lose its team, the Oklahoma City Thunder faithful have done everything possible to prove they should have one as well. They haven't exactly had to endure tough times—only during the 2008-09 season did they experience a losing record—but they've fully supported their team through the many good years. 

    It's tough to exceed the expectations when a team is consistently finding itself near the top of the standings. But that's what the Thunder have done, since attendance has yet to dip below the 97.7 percent of the inaugural season.

    During each of the last four years, OKC has even hit triple digits. 

    Just as is the case with other new transplants such as the Brooklyn Nets, the first prolonged slump will be a good test of the true loyalty shown by the fans in this city. But again, there's no reason to doubt the passion, especially given the raucous environments the opposition has been forced to endure in Chesapeake Energy Arena thus far.  

    Note: The Seattle SuperSonics would have ranked No. 12 in this countdown. 

5. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Actual Home Attendance: 98.9 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 93.2 percent

    While Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant were teaming up and leading the Los Angeles Lakers to championships, the stands filled up consistently. The same was true when Bryant and Pau Gasol were leading the charge toward more rings and Larry O'Brien trophies. 

    But let's forget about what happened to the purple and gold prior to recent years. It's impressive that they were selling out the Staples Center back then, but it's even more special that attendance hasn't fallen off a cliff along with the record of this esteemed organization. 

    SeasonRecordExpected AttendanceActual Attendance 
    2010-1157-25  97.499.7
    2011-12 41-25 94.6 99.7 
    2012-13 45-37 91.8 99.7 
    2013-14 27-55 83.4 98.8 

    Lakers games aren't just basketball events.

    Attending one is also viewed as a status boost in some social circles, and fans always have the chance to peer with mouth agape at A-list actors in attendance. Even when the on-court product isn't as impressive as it could be, there's a lot the Staples Center can offer, and that keeps the seats filled at all times. 

4. San Antonio Spurs****

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    David Dow/Getty Images

    Actual Home Attendance: 100.1 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 97.9 percent

    The San Antonio Spurs are where our system unequivocally fails. Maintaining objectivity would have forced them down into a spot they don't really deserve (No. 16), but they've been arguably the most loyal franchise in the NBA for the last 15 years, supporting one quality team after another.

    Though the rest of the countdown sticks strictly to the order dictated by the formula, I can't in good faith have the Spurs so low.

    In fact, they're one of only two franchises with an actual home attendance in triple digits during the relevant time frame, as they've been so popular that standing-room attendees are necessary to get people into the building. Problem is, our analysis is based on exceeding the expectations, and the Spurs have been so ridiculously good for so long that those are through the roof of the AT&T Center. 

    The Dallas Mavericks have the second-highest expected home attendance since 2001, and that's only 95.9 percent. When San Antonio is always this good, there's only so much the city can do to appear objectively loyal by this methodology. No team should reasonably be so dominant for the entirety of a 15-year stretch.

    In reality, the Spurs are not in the bottom half and should really be right near the top. We have to throw in the many asterisks, but that's better than incorrectly calling the Spurs fanbase a bottom-half group due to an unavoidable glitch in the methodology.

3. Dallas Mavericks

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Actual Home Attendance: 103.3 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 95.9 percent

    "When I first bought the Mavs, we’d have more Lakers and Spurs fans than Mavericks fans, and it killed me," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explained to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News before the start of this past season. 

    Suffice it to say, that's no longer an issue. 

    The Mavericks don't have any trouble selling out the American Airlines Center, and they actually boast the highest attendance figures of any organization since 2001. Though the team struggled to hit even 90 percent in the first year of our time frame, it's been in triple digits every season since. 

    In fact, it's been in triple digits nearly every game. Per Mavs.com's Bobby Karalla at the end of the 2014-15 campaign:

    The Mavs have the longest active sellout streak in American sports at 618, including playoffs, roughly 15 consecutive seasons worth of sellouts. In addition, the first two playoff games have already sold out, which will stretch the number to 620. Just for reference, if a team began a new streak on opening night next season, that club wouldn’t surpass the Mavs’ current record until 2031.

    That’s maybe the most important number to the organization, more so than win totals or playoff series victories or other records. No organization can exist without its fans, and none can thrive without continuous support from the faithful...

    MFFLs have turned the AAC into a building in which the home players love to play and the road teams hate to visit. That’s the highest type of praise you can offer a fan base. For 41 games per season (plus playoffs), the Mavericks have played in front of a full house. That’s a pie-in-the-sky type of streak every organization can only envy, and it will stay that way for some time. And the team owes it to you.

    Only the team's consistent success—just the San Antonio Spurs had higher expected home attendance—keeps it from the No. 1 spot in these rankings, as it's harder to exceed those lofty expectations. 

2. Chicago Bulls

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Actual Home Attendance: 98.6 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 89.6 percent

    Up until Tom Thibodeau took charge and helped Derrick Rose maximize his pre-injury talents, the Chicago Bulls haven't been very good this millennium. They plunged into putridity when Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers for the second-to-last time, going from winning a title over the Utah Jazz in 1998 to earning one losing record after another. 

    The first winning season after Y2K? That didn't come until 2004-05, when Kirk Hinrich and Chris Duhon started more games than anyone else for a 47-win squad that lost to the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. Then, the Bulls would only win more than 41 games one additional time before Thibodeau starting pacing the sidelines in 2010-11. 

    But through all the futility, fans never stopped showing up. 

    Only once did attendance dip below 90 percent—2001-02, when the Bulls followed up a 15-win campaign with only 21 victories—but they still exceeded the expectations by a rather significant margin. They've always done that, whether the squad is struggling to keep its head above water or fighting for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference. 

1. New York Knicks

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Actual Home Attendance: 99.3 percent

    Expected Home Attendance: 87 percent

    Frankly, it's just not even close. 

    The New York Knicks have not exactly been the most impressive basketball organization during the last 15 years. They've had a winning record during only four seasons, topping out at 54 victories during the 2012-13 campaign. They've won just a single playoff series, going more than a decade between postseason wins—not even series wins. 

    But the fans from the metro area—which is admittedly populated rather heavily compared to many other NBA locales—have never stopped showing up. 

    Since 2000-01, the Knicks have filled up 99.3 percent of the seats in Madison Square Garden, and that gives them a higher home attendance than every organization but the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. 

    However, those three franchises have actually been successful. Based on their regular-season records, the Knicks' expected attendance during the relevant time is a shabby 87 percent. Among the 30 teams in the Association, only three have produced lower expectations—the Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Washington Wizards. 

    That's one heck of a combination, which speaks highly of the Knicks' faithful and their desire to show up and support some of the worst teams in franchise history. Even this past season, so many people came to the mecca of basketball that they still hit 100 percent in their famed arena. 

    Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com. Attendance figures are taken from ESPN.com's databases and estimated based on arena capacity when a home attendance percentage is not provided. 

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.