Since 1946, the NBA has been in operation. However, some teams had been formed much earlier. As a result, let’s talk about the world’s oldest NBA teams.
The NBA was formed by the merger of the National Basketball League (NBL) and the Basketball American Association (BAA).
Previously, each league was distinct and housed distinct franchises. Only a few of the teams that competed in both leagues made it to the NBA.
Furthermore, preserving something for so long and developing its culture is a difficult task. A team is much more difficult to manage than any other entity.
So, without further ado, tell us how these teams survived for so long.
The World’s Top 13 Oldest NBA Teams
The following teams were formed based on their foundation period. They are also chosen based on their longevity in the National Basketball Association.
The majority of them are from Oldest.org, sportskeeda.com, and bleacherreport.com.
Furthermore, before delving into the specifics of the top 13 oldest NBA teams in the world, let us take a quick look at the names on the list.
|13. Phoenix Suns
|12. Oklahoma City Thunder
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|11. Houston Rockets
|10. Chicago Bulls
|9. Washington Wizards
|8. Los Angeles Lakers
|Los Angeles, Lakers
|7. Atlanta Hawks
|6. Philadelphia 76rs
|5. Golden State Warriors
|San Francisco, California
|4. New York Knicks
|New York City, New York
|3. Boston Celtics
|2. Detroit Pistons
|1. Sacramento Kings
13. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are not a championship-laden NBA team. They have, however, been in the league long enough to be considered one of the oldest NBA teams.
They are also a western conference team that competes in the Pacific division. They are also the only team in their division that is not based in California.
The other three NBA teams are all based in California. Aside from that, Phoenix has not won a championship in over 50 years of league play.
The Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers are the only teams in their division to have not won a championship since their inaugural season in the NBA.
Nonetheless, the Suns came close to winning the championship several times. To be more specific, they have three conference titles and seven division titles.
Due to the franchise’s failure to win NBA championships, it has undergone various rebuilding efforts.
Throughout the team’s history, they haseveralmber of hall of fame players. They have had ten Hall of Famers play for them in total.
Only Charles Barkley and Steve Nash have won an NBA Most Valuable Player award among the ten Hall of Famers.
The franchise currently has a very promising trio of players in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Chris Paul.
Hopefully, they will be able to bring the Suns their first NBA title.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a member of the Western Conference’s Northwest division. Furthermore, they are Oklahoma’s only major professional sports team.
Aside from that, from 1967 to 2008, they were known as the Settle SuperSonics. The Seattle SuperSonics was founded in Seattle, Washington.
Following a change in ownership, the Seattle SuperSonics were renamed OKC in 2008. The team in Seattle won one NBA championship in 1979.
Furthermore, the 1979 title was the SuperSonics’ final and first NBA championship. Ironically, that title could be OKC’s final and first NBA championship.
However, when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played from them, the franchise was on the verge of changing this scenario.
Similarly, they made their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1996 in 2011-12. Nonetheless, the LeBron-led Heat defeated them in the finals to win their second championship.
The team is currently in the process of rebuilding with its young core. With multiple trades over the next five years, the franchise will have 37 draft picks.
There are 19 first-round picks and 18 second-round picks in the draft. As a result, OKC is looking to build a championship-caliber team in the long run.
11. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets compete in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference. They were originally known as the San Diego Rockets because they were based in San Diego.
Tilman Fertitta purchased the franchise in 1971 and relocated it to Huston. Despite being one of the league’s oldest teams, they haven’t had much success.
They have won two NBA championships in total. Similarly, both titles were released before the franchise’s relocation to Huston.
Despite this, the team has won four conference championships and eight divisional championships. Aside from that, they never had much success with their star players.
They have drafted some outstanding players, including Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, and Yoa Ming. They were, however, ineffective each time.
They did land some good franchise players during the rebuilding process. Nonetheless, Huston was never able to beat great teams like the Lakers or Warriors.
They even screwed up with James Harden, who showed promise as a franchise player.
10. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are an Eastern Conference team that competes in the Central Division. During the Michael Jordan era, the Bulls entered the big market.
During that time, the Bulls won six NBA championships. In addition, the team has six conferences and nine divisional titles.
Teams like the Bulls don’t stand out in a market dominated by mega-teams like the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Jordan helped the franchise become a dominant NBA team.
Nonetheless, the team has not been the same in the years since Jordan’s departure. They drafted Derrick Rose, who quickly rose to fame and led the team to a successful playoff run.
Injuries slowed him down despite his best efforts. However, the team has repeatedly outdone itself in terms of rebuilding.
History shows that the Bulls are excellent at rebuilding. Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso are currently tearing up the Eastern Conference.
Similarly, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng formed a perfect team that gave LeBron James and the Heat a run for their money.
9. Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards are a team from the Eastern Conference that competes in the Central Division. They have been relocated more times than any other NBA team.
Similarly, the franchise’s name has changed several times over the year. In 1961, the team was founded as the Chicago Packers.
However, the following season, they have renamed the Chicago Zephyrs. After two years, the franchise was renamed the Baltimore Bullets and relocated to Baltimore, Maryland.
After ten years in Baltimore, the team relocated to Washington as the Capital Bullets. The team’s name was changed once more to the Washington Bullets.
Furthermore, after four years, they changed their name to the Washington Wizards. They’ve been calling themselves the Wizards ever since.
During their time as the Washington Bullets, they only won one NBA championship. Similarly, they have appeared in the NBA Finals four times in their long history.
Furthermore, they have never had a player win the league’s MVP award. Despite this, they have been around long enough to be considered one of the NBA’s oldest teams.
8. The Lakers of Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most decorated teams in the NBA. With seventeen NBA championships, they are one of only two teams to have won the most.
As a result, they are not only one of the oldest NBA teams but also one of the most successful teams in NBA history.
Many NBA players have stated that playing for the Lakers is the true American dream. As a result, this team has a long list of outstanding players.
Furthermore, the team was formed after the purchase of a defunct National Basketball League team, the Detroit Gems.
As a result, they were dubbed the Minneapolis Laker after their hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team that made great plays was immediately successful.
The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers dominated the mid-1990s. Both teams had incredible lineups that helped them win championships in different eras.
Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and many others are among those who have played for the Lakers.
The majority of these players contributed to the nickname “Showtime Lakers.” They were so good that it was difficult to imagine anyone else winning the championship.
7. The Hawks of Atlanta
The Atlanta Hawks are a member of the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division. The Buffalo Bisons were founded in 1946 in New York as the Buffalo Bisons.
In addition, after 38 days as the Bisons, they relocated to Moline, Illinois. Similarly, they changed their name to the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.
After the NBA was formed by combining the NBL and the BAA, they relocated to Milwaukee and became the Milwaukee Hawks.
The franchise relocated to St. Louis once more as the St. Louis Hawks. During this time, the team won one championship and reached the NBA Finals three times.
The team relocated to Atlanta after the owners sold it to Thomas Cousins, becoming the Atlanta Hawks.
Furthermore, the Hawks are the second-longest team without an NBA championship. They haven’t won a championship in over 63 seasons.
However, in his second season with the team, All-Star point guard Trae Young led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Nonetheless, the Giannis-led Bucks were too much for the young Hawks.
6. The Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are a member of the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division. They were originally known as the Syracuse Nationals.
Furthermore, the team is one of the oldest in the NBA, having survived the league’s first decade. As a result, Hall of Famers such as Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, George McGinnis, and Allen Iverson has played for the 76ers.
Aside from that, the franchise has won three NBA championships, all in the mid-1990s. They have five conferences and twelve divisional titles, as well.
For a team that has been in the league for so long, having only three championships is a harsh reality.
Most players in the market seek higher pay or larger teams. As a result, many players aspire to play for the Lakers or the Knicks.
Keeping a drafted player for an extended period appears impossible in such a thought competition. However, the franchise has only recently committed to Joel Embiid.
Embed also wishes to continue working with the team for a long time. In addition, the trade for James Harden has improved both teams’ offensive games.
5. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are a Pacific Division team from the Eastern Conference. Previously, they were known as the Philadelphia Warriors.
The team relocated to San Francisco after twenty years and became the San Francisco Warriors. The team later changed its name to Golden State based on the geographical moniker.
They used to play for the Basketball Association of America at first (BAA). They won two championships during this period, in 1947 and 1956.
The Golden State Warriors have won four championships, in 1975, 2015, 2017, and 2018. The trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant was responsible for the team’s later success.
Under the leadership of the league’s best three-point shooter, Steph Curry, the team is having a fantastic regular season.
However, they lack the firepower to make a playoff push. Without a doubt, a good addition to the team will put them back on top.
4. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks compete in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Knickerbockers is abbreviated as Knicks.
As a result, the New York Knicks are simply a shortened and more popular version of the New York Knickerbockers.
Furthermore, they are the only NBA teams, along with Boston, that have never relocated during the year. As a result, the Knicks are a massive team in the basketball market.
Similarly, the team plays in the legendary Madison Square Garden. MSG is one of the world’s most famous arenas due to the rich history of events held there.
As a result, many players excel while playing at MSG. Aside from that, in its decades of existence, the team has only won two NBA championships.
Despite having a large fan base, the team has been unable to capitalize on star power.
3. The Celtics of Boston
The Boston Celtics are not only one of the league’s most successful teams, but also one of the league’s oldest.
Similarly, they are one of only two NBA teams that are still based in their original city. They are also one of two teams to have won the most NBA championships, with seventeen.
Furthermore, they were founded in 1946 as one of the eight original NBA teams. The Celtics achieved great success as a result of their large market and the presence of great players on their roster.
The Celtics dominated the Eastern Conference until the mid-1990s. By winning eleven NBA championships, players like Bill Russell helped set the tone for the franchise.
Similarly, they are the only NBA team to have won the most games in its history. Furthermore, the franchise is well-known for its rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Both teams have met in the NBA Finals twelve times, most notably when Larry Bird was with the Celtics and Magic Johnson was with the Lakers.
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2. The Pistons of Detroit
The Detroit Pistons compete in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference. The team was founded in Fort Wayne at first.
As a result, in 1937, they have renamed the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. They renamed their team the Fort Wayne Pistons ten years later.
Similarly, after joining the NBA in 1957, they relocated to Detroit and became known as the Detroit Pistons. They previously represented the BAA, where they won two championships.
Further, as a part of the NBA, they won only one NBA title in 2004. The team was led by point guard Chauncey Billups.
In the finals, the Pistons faced the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers were the odds-on favorites, but the Positions provided more than just an offensive game.
Their defense was out of this world. As a result, they never give their opponents an easy bucket while playing them.
1. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a Pacific Division team in the Western Conference. All of the Pacific Division’s teams are among the oldest in the league.
They were founded in 1923 as the Rochester Seagrams. Ten years later, the name was changed to the Rochester Eber Seagrams.
Similarly, they were again named the Rochester Pros, then Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City Kings, and Sacramento Kings.
After joining the NBL in 1945, they won their first and only NBA championships. Further, they are the only team that hasn’t won a title in over 70 years.
As a result, they are the team with the highest NBA championship drought. Right behind them are the Atlanta Hawks.
Moreover, the team has failed in every aspect of rebuilding. It has been a very long since the team has produced any league’s MVP or Hall of Famer.
The teams mentioned above are the oldest NBA teams them all. They existed before the NBA was even formed before the three-point line was invented.
Moreover, let’s appreciate these teams for entertaining the viewers for over multiple decades. Without these franchises, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today.