In 76 seasons of its existence, there have been 19 franchises that have won NBA championships. Out of those 19 teams, only 13 have managed to string consecutive titles. Yes, winning an NBA championship is hard, but stringing up at least two in a row is a rarity, especially in our modern era. That said, which team won the most consecutive NBA titles among those premier organizations?
Without consulting Google or any other lifeline, can you think of at least a couple of teams that are in contention? Well, if you’re guessing Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers, you’re on the right track. But before pinpointing which of these two legendary organizations has the most consecutive championships in the NBA, see who holds the distinction for having the most consecutive wins.
What’s the NBA Record for Most Consecutive Wins?
The NBA record for most consecutive wins is 33 victories, accomplished by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1971-72 season. The Lakers, led by Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, set the wheels in motion for the streak on November 5, 1971, by beating the Baltimore Bullets, 110-106. They did not lose for another two months, netting win No. 33 against the Atlanta Hawks on January 7, 1972. Two nights later, the streak ended at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Next on this list is the 27-game winning streak pulled off by the 2012-13 Miami Heat. The Heat, of course, led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh did not lose a game from February 3 to March 27, 2013. A shorthanded Chicago Bulls squad without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah snapped the streak at No. 27.
Number three on the record for most consecutive wins is the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors. This was the pre-KD Warriors who managed to beat the league’s regular season win-loss record. This squad won 24 games to start the season before they were stopped by the Milwaukee Bucks. Dating back from the 2014-15 season, they won 28 consecutive regular season games, which would have been second behind the 71-72 Lakers.
And lastly, no basketball fan could forget what the Houston Rockets did towards the tail end of the 2007-08 season. They won 22 straight games from January 29 to March 18, 2008. Houston gained 12 victories without All-Star center Yao Ming and snatched 10 more without him. Boston’s then recently-formed Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett ended the chaos with a 21-point beatdown.
Who Has More Championships? Celtics or Lakers?
Who has the most NBA team titles between these two premier franchises? The answer is neither! Why? Because the Celtics and Lakers, at least as of the 2021-22 season, both have 17 championships to their credit. The Celtics won their 17th in 2008, while the Lakers evened the record in 2020.
For the longest time, the Boston Celtics held the record for most NBA championships. They have won eight consecutive titles at one point during Bill Russell’s heyday and a total of 11 in a span of 13 seasons. (Well, there you have it. The answer to the question, “Which team won the most consecutive NBA titles?” is none other than the Boston Celtics with eight!)
The Lakers had a lot of catching up to do, but they closed the gap with five championships in the 80s. Led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles won titles in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. But, they were still five championships away from tying the Celtics, which won three more in the same decade.
Surprisingly, after mythical runs in the 80s, the Celtics and the Lakers were largely mediocre in the 90s. The Lakers managed to turn their fortune around by signing Shaquille O’Neal in 1996 and drafting Kobe Bryant in 1997. The duo became the cornerstone of three more championships from 2000 to 2002. When O’Neal was traded in before the 2004-05 season, the Lakers added two more trophies to the collection in 2009 and 2010. Ten years later, a LeBron James-led squad eventually tied the ring count at 17 apiece with a championship in 2020.
All in all, these two franchises account for 45% of all NBA championships. They also appear in the NBA Finals a combined 54 times.
11 NBA Teams with the Most Championships in Order
1. Boston Celtics (17 championships)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (17 championships)
3. Golden State Warriors (7 championships)
4. Chicago Bulls (6 championships)
5. San Antonio Spurs (5 championships)
6. Miami Heat (3 championships)
7. Detroit Pistons (3 championships)
8. Philadelphia 76ers (3 championships)
9. Milwaukee Bucks (2 championships)
10. Houston Rockets (2 championships)
11. New York Knicks (2 championships)
Which NBA Team Has the Most Consecutive Playoff Appearances?
For many NBA teams, making the playoffs signifies a winning season. There are actually two teams with the most consecutive playoff appearances– the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers franchise and, most currently, the San Antonio Spurs. The Nationals/Sixers made the playoffs from 1950 to 1921, and the Spurs went to the postseason from 1998 to 2019. That’s 22 straight seasons where they made the playoffs!
After these two, the Portland Trail Blazers made 21 straight postseasons from 1983 to 2003. The Utah Jazz (20), Boston Celtics (19), and the Los Angeles Lakers (17) round out the top 5.
Teams Which Won Consecutive NBA Titles
Starting from the earliest years of the NBA, here are the league’s consecutive champions:
- Minneapolis Lakers (1949, 1950)
- Minneapolis Lakers (1952-1954)
- Boston Celtics (1959-1966)
- Boston Celtics (1968, 1969)
- Los Angeles Lakers (1987, 1988)
- Detroit Pistons (1989, 1990)
- Chicago Bulls (1991-1993)
- Houston Rockets (1994, 1995)
- Chicago Bulls (1996-1998)
- Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2002)
- Los Angeles Lakers (2009, 2010)
- Miami Heat (2012, 2013)
- Golden State Warriors (2017, 2018)
How Hard is it to Win Consecutive NBA Championships?
Only 13 teams repeat as NBA championships. Out of the 13, only four won at least three consecutive times. In other words, repeating as NBA championships is hard, and winning at least three straight titles is almost impossible to pull off.
Here are the cold, hard facts:
- Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics teams, which also featured Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, and Dennis Johnson, never won twice in a row.
- The great Sixers teams with Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone never won back-to-back titles.
- Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West never won twice in a row.
- Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” Lakers never won three straight. Remember, those teams also had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, both named two of the 75 greatest to ever play.
- LeBron James, teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, fell short of a three-peat in 2015.
- The last NBA team to win back-to-back championships was the Golden State Warriors (2017 and 2018), but fans know the Kevin Durant signing basically destroyed parity in the league.
- The 2013 Heat and the 2010 Lakers did repeat, but don’t forget that they almost didn’t. The Heat was one rebound and one Ray Allen three-pointer away from a Game 6 loss, and the Lakers were down by double-digits to the Celtics in the second half of Game 7.
- Tim Duncan and the Spurs won five championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), but they never pulled off a back-to-back.
So why do teams often fail to capture at least two consecutive NBA titles? It’s a combination of many things, such as health, losing key players, matchups, and fatigue. Playing an 82-game season and at least 16 more games in the playoffs are physically and mentally exhausting! You have to deal with nagging injuries, not to mention all the travel involved.
Here are some more stats and facts about repeating as NBA champions:
- The runners-up of the previous Finals made a return trip next year to the big stage only 12 times. However, once back in the Finals, they had a 9-3 record, proving that the desire for redemption is indeed very powerful.
- There have been seven rematches in the NBA Finals, and the champions lost six out of seven in these matchups. The only champion to repeat was, as you guessed, the 1998 Chicago Bulls.
- Phil Jackson’s teams did not repeat only twice. The 1994 Bulls without Michael Jordan lost in the second round to the eventual Finalists, the New York Knicks. Similarly, the 2011 Lakers lost to the eventual champions Dallas Mavericks in the second round.
- Aside from the Celtics dynasty in the 1960s, which won eight straight NBA titles, the only other three teams to three-peat are all coached by Phil Jackson.
What Team in NBA Has No Championship?
The NBA has grown its fanbase over the years, but in reality, the league hasn’t had much parity. As mentioned, only 19 teams have ever won a championship, so that means there are 11 teams that don’t have the hardware to show for it. The NBA teams with no titles are:
- Phoenix Suns
- Utah Jazz
- New Jersey Nets
- Orlando Magic
- Indiana Pacers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Denver Nuggets
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Charlotte Hornets
Out of these 11 teams, six never had an NBA Finals appearance. As of this writing, the Suns have been to the Finals three times, the Jazz, Nets, and Magic twice, and the Pacers once.
Wrapping Things Up: Which Team Won the Most Consecutive NBA Titles?
There are levels to everything. In the NBA, winning a championship is a difficult undertaking. Doing it twice in a row is something special, but capturing NBA titles at least three consecutive times? That’s almost impossible.
In fact, of the 76 times that the NBA title has been up for grabs, only 19 franchises managed to win it all. Out of the 19, 13 have repeated as champions, while only four achieved at least three straight titles. Why is repeating as NBA champions so hard to do? It’s hard to pinpoint one reason, but constant travel and playing almost a hundred games in a six-month period takes a toll.
Winning two NBA championships is so difficult that even greats like Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, and Julius Erving never did it. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, and Steph Curry did repeat as champions but never extended the streak to three. This is not to discredit any of these players’ individual and team achievements but a testament to how tough it is to string together NBA titles.
So, which team won the most consecutive NBA titles? The answer is the Boston Celtics. Led by Red Auerbach on the sidelines, the Celtics won eight straight championships from 1959 to 1966. This is probably one of those team records that won’t be broken anytime soon. The Celtics also share the distinction with their archrivals, the Lakers, for most NBA team titles with 17. The Celtics last won a championship in 2008, while the Lakers’ latest was in 2020.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.
Check out other interesting basketball FAQ below: