The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a long and illustrious history, with teams coming and going in its over 70 years of existence. While many teams have survived the test of time, other NBA clubs have disbanded or relocated owing to financial troubles or a lack of fan support.
These defunct clubs are a significant part of NBA history, and a handful have left an indelible mark on the league. So, what NBA teams do not exist anymore?
How Many NBA Teams No Longer Exist?
There are 15 NBA teams that no longer exist, and nine of them only lasted one season. Among them was the franchise then known as the Denver Nuggets, not to be confused with the current team, as the two franchises have a completely different history. The old Nuggets was the team that folded after the 1949-50 season, while the current Nikola Jokic-led squad was the remnant of the ABA team called the Denver Larks, renamed the Denver Rockets shortly after.
The other defunct NBA teams that played only one season were the Anderson Packers (based in Anderson, Indiana), Cleveland Rebels, Detroit Falcons, Indianapolis Jets, Pittsburgh Ironmen, Sheboygan Red Skins (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), Toronto Huskies, and the Waterloo Hawks. Two other teams from Buffalo and Indianapolis, respectively, never played a single season.
What NBA Teams Do Not Exist Anymore?
There are six old NBA teams that no longer exist that played multiple seasons in the league. One even won a championship during their tenure, while others enjoyed cumulative winning records across those seasons.
Here is the breakdown of the top 10 defunct NBA teams:
The Bullets, based in Baltimore, Maryland, were active in the NBA from 1947 to 1954. They won a championship in 1948 when the league was still called the Basketball Association of America (BAA).
As the name changed from BAA to the NBA in 1949, the days of the Baltimore Bullets were numbered. After years of struggling, the team folded in 1954 as they failed to record another winning season after their championship run.
This team was another old BAA charter squad that folded in 1951 after five seasons. They are not related to the NHL’s team of the same name, the current Wizards team based in D.C. Despite their short existence, the Capitols had several historic highlights under their banner.
They were coached by the legendary Red Auerbach from 1946 to 1949 and held the record for most consecutive wins (17) until 1969. The 1948-49 team started the season by winning 15 straight games, a feat only replicated by the 2016 Golden State Warriors and 1994 Houston Rockets.
St. Louis Bombers
The Bombers played a total of four seasons from 1946 to 1950. After the BAA merged with the NBL in 1949 and became the NBA, they folded after one season. The most popular player under their banner was the Hall of Famer Ed Macauley.
“Easy Ed” was the first All-Star game MVP in NBA history and was part of the draft day deal that sent Bill Russell from the St. Louis Hawks to the Boston Celtics. Macaulay ended up winning one championship for St. Louis in 1958.
Unlike the first three teams, the Olympians became a team in 1949 when the league was already called the National Basketball Association. After the latter folded, the Olympians took over the Jets, also from Indianapolis. They were part of the longest NBA game ever, a six-overtime outing against the Rochester Royals!
On a more negative note, two of their players, Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, were banned from the NBA in 1951 after admitting to a point-shaving scandal in college.
The Chicago Stags’ NBA tenure from 1946 to 1950 included one division title and nothing more. Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein was supposed to buy them in 1950, but the deal did not fall through.
They folded that same year, with only one player named to the Hall of Fame– Andy Phillip. Phillip became a member of the 1957 Boston Celtics championship team and coached the St. Louis Hawks when they won the title over Boston in 1958.
The Steamrollers was one of the 11 original NBA franchises and the last professional team out of the four biggest North American sports leagues based in Rhode Island. They folded after three seasons (1946 to 1949) and hold the record for the least wins in a season with six. Providence was so bad they activated their 46-year-old coach Nat Hickey for two games.
The Rebels existed only for one season, but at least they had a respectable record (30-30). They immediately went out of business in 1947, but not after appearing in the playoffs and losing to the Knicks in the first round, 2-1. One notable player for the Rebels was Kenny Sailors, the guy credited to have invented the jump shot.
The Falcons played the inaugural season in 1946 and folded immediately after, finishing with a 20-40 win-loss record. Detroit did not have a professional basketball team until the Fort Wayne Pistons moved there in 1957. Despite their dismal showing, the Falcons had one of the earliest pro basketball stars in Stan Masiek. Masiek made the first team in 1946-47 and the second team in 1947-48 with the Chicago Stags.
The Packers were a pretty decent team in their lone NBA season in 1949-50, finishing with a 37-27 record. They also had a good showing in the playoffs, winning their division and losing to the eventual champions Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA semifinals. Anderson joined the NPBL (National Professional Basketball League), which folded after one season. The team’s best player was Frank Brian out of LSU, whose nickname was “Flash” because of his speed.
Like the Packers, the Redskins out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, also jumped to the NPBL after one season in the NBA. The team had a rich basketball history that began in 1933 in various independent leagues until it joined the NBA in the 1949-50 season.
After the NPBL disbanded, the Redskins existed for one more season playing independently before it folded. They produced several solid players, such as Bob Brannum. After the Reskins folded, Brannum played for the Celtics and was known as an enforcer and bodyguard of Boston’s smaller players, such as Bob Cousy.
Wrapping Things Up: What NBA Teams Do Not Exist Anymore?
It’s fascinating to learn more about old NBA teams’ history, particularly the ones that walked so the current teams could run. Aside from the defunct NBA teams, there were also planned franchises from Buffalo and Indianapolis that never came to fruition because of the circumstances.
So, what NBA teams do not exist anymore? These include the Baltimore Bullets, Washington Capitols, St. Louis Bombers, Indianapolis Olympians, Chicago Stags, Providence Steamrollers, Cleveland Rebels, Detroit Falcons, Anderson Packers, and Sheboygan Redskins. The Toronto Huskies, Waterloo Hawks, Indianapolis Jets, Denver Nuggets, and the Pittsburgh Ironmen round out the 15.
Of these defunct NBA teams, only the Baltimore Bullets won a championship. However, several others made their mark in basketball, such as the Washington Capitols, winning 17 consecutive games, and the Indianapolis Olympians, playing six overtime sessions.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.