From Hope To Heartbreak: 10 NBA Teams Without A Championship

Some NBA teams without a championship include the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz.

Some basketball fans may wonder what NBA teams have never won a championship. The number of NBA teams without a championship is greater than one may think, even though the league has been around since 1946.

The presence of many great historical franchises such as the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers has blocked many other teams from winning titles throughout the decades. However, player mobility and increased parity throughout the league in recent years have helped to decrease the number of NBA teams without a championship.

What Teams have not won an NBA Championship?

There are currently 10 NBA teams without a championship title during their existence:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

What is the Oldest NBA Team Without a Championship?

The Phoenix Suns are the oldest NBA franchise that has never won the NBA Finals, entering the league at the start of the 1968-1969 season. However, it is important to note that the Indiana Pacers were founded in 1967 as an original member of the American Basketball Association (ABA).

The Pacers then joined the NBA for the 1976-1977 season after the ABA folded. As a result, the Pacers are technically older than the Suns, but since they didn’t join the NBA until 1976, they are not officially considered the oldest NBA team without a championship.

Which NBA Team never made the Playoffs?

All 30 teams in the NBA have made the postseason during their existence, with 28 of them making at least 1 appearance in the conference finals. The only 2 teams that have failed to reach a conference final are the Charlotte Hornets and the Pelicans, both very young NBA franchises. Unfortunately, the list of NBA teams without a championship could potentially include both these teams for a long time, as neither appears to be in a position to be a contender any time soon.

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Most NBA Finals Appearances without a Title

The Phoenix Suns have made the most appearances in the NBA Finals without winning it, 3 in total. They lost to the Boston Celtics in 1976, the Chicago Bulls in 1993, and the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, with each series going 6 games.

The Suns took part in the only 2 triple overtime games in finals history, game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals and game 3 of the 1993 NBA Finals. Although being on a list of NBA teams without a championship is not an enviable position for the Suns, they do possess the 5th highest winning percentage in NBA history at .536.

Back-to-Back NBA Finals Losses

The Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets are two NBA teams without a championship that appeared in back to back NBA finals.

2 NBA teams without a championship had back-to-back finals losses, the Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz. The Brooklyn, then New Jersey Nets, lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. The Utah Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls in 2 of the most memorable NBA Finals series of all time in 1997 and 1998.

The 1998 NBA Finals is still the highest-rated NBA Finals of all time and is famous for Jordan’s famous game-winning shot over Bryon Russell. Of all the NBA teams without a championship, Utah is the most successful, with an overall winning percentage of .543, 4th most in NBA history.

Teams that Won Championships under Old Names

Many sports fans commonly forget the championships that certain modern franchises won under old names and/or cities. As a result, the list of NBA teams without a championship often includes too many teams.

For example, the Oklahoma City Thunder were previously the Seattle SuperSonics, who won a title in 1979. The Sacramento Kings were previously the Rochester Royals, who won a title in 1951. The Golden State Warriors get credited for the very first championship in NBA history in 1947 when they were known as the Philadelphia Warriors.

The Washington Wizards get credited for the titles won by the Washington Bullets in 1978. The Minneapolis Lakers won 5 titles before moving to Los Angeles in 1960. The first NBA title won by the Philadelphia 76ers occurred in 1955 when they were known as the Syracuse Nationals.

Finally, the Atlanta Hawks’ lone title came in 1958, when they played in the city of St. Louis and gave the Celtics their only finals defeat in their historic run in the late 50s and 60s.

The 2023 NBA Champions are no longer one of the NBA teams without a championship

Some sports fans may think that there aren’t many NBA teams without a championship because of how long the league has been in existence. However, the NBA’s history of dominant dynasties has limited the number of champions, preventing many otherwise great teams from being able to win a title. Denver’s championship run this last season removed them from the title-less list, reducing the number of NBA teams without a championship to just 10.