The NBA has been in action since 1946. However, some teams were established way ahead of that time. Hence, let’s discuss the oldest NBA teams in the world.
The NBA was formed when the National Basketball League (NBL) and Basketball American Association (BAA) joined forces.
Before this time, each league was different and hosted different franchises. Out of all these teams that played in both the league, very few have made it into the NBA.
Further, preserving something for such a long time and building its culture is a very hard task. Something as operational as a team is much harder than any other entity.
Hence, without wasting time, let us know how these teams survived for such a long time.
Top 13 Oldest NBA Teams in the World
The teams mentioned below are assembled based on their foundation period. In addition, they are also assembled based on the longevity in the National Basketball Association.
Further, before hopping into the details about the top 13 oldest NBA teams globally, let us quickly view the names present in the list.
|Team Name||Year Founded||Current Location|
|13. Phoenix Suns||1968||Phoenix, Arizona|
|12. Oklahoma City Thunder||1967||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma|
|11. Houston Rockets||1967||Huston, Texas|
|10. Chicago Bulls||1966||Chicago, Illinois|
|9. Washington Wizards||1961||Washington, D.C.|
|8. Los Angeles Lakers||1947||Los Angeles, Lakers|
|7. Atlanta Hawks||1946||Atlanta, Georgia|
|6. Philadelphia 76rs||1446||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|5. Golden State Warriors||1946||San Francisco, California|
|4. New York Knicks||1946||New York City, New York|
|3. Boston Celtics||1946||Boston, Massachusetts|
|2. Detroit Pistons||1941||Detroit, Michigan|
|1. Sacramento Kings||1923||Sacramento, California|
13. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns are not a championship-stacking team in the NBA. However, they have been in the league long enough to be known as one of the oldest NBA teams.
Further, they are a western conference team that plays for the pacific division. Similarly, they are the only team in their division that isn’t based in California.
The rest of the four NBA teams are all based in California. Aside from that, Phoenix has not won championships in over 50 years of playing in the league.
The Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers are the only two teams in their division not to win a single championship since they played their first season in the NBA.
Nevertheless, the Suns were closed to winning the titles various times. To elaborate, they have won three conferences titles and seven division titles.
Due to the franchise failing to capture the NBA championships, they have gone into various rebuilding.
They have had various hall of fame play throughout the team’s existence. In total, they have had ten Hall of Famers play for them.
Hopefully, they will be able to deliver the Suns with their first NBA championship.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a western conference team that plays for the Northwest division. Further, they are the only major professional sports team located in Oklahoma.
Aside from that, they were previously known to be the Settle SuperSonics from 1967 to 2008. SuperSonics was established in Seattle, Washington.
The transformation of Seattle SuperSonics to OKC happened in 2008 following the ownership change. In Seattle, the team won one NBA championship in 1979.
Moreover, the 1979 title was the last and the first NBA championship for the SuperSonics. Ironically, that title might also be the last and first NBA championship for OKC.
Likewise, they also went to the 2011-12 NBA Finals, the first appearance since 1996. Nevertheless, the LeBron-led Heat beat them in the finals to claim their second title.
Currently, the team is in the mid of rebuilding with their young core. The franchise has an overwhelming 37 draft picks with multiple trades over the next five years.
The draft picks contain 19 first-rounder, and 18 second-round draft picks. Hence, OKC is looking into building a championships caliber team in the long term.
11. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are a western conference team that plays for the Southwest Division. Initially, they were known as the San Diego Rockets, based in San Diego.
However, in 1971 the franchise relocated to Huston under the ownership of Tilman Fertitta. Despite being one of the oldest NBA teams in the league, they haven’t had much success.
In total, they have won two NBA championships. Similarly, both titles came before the relocation of the franchise to Huston.
Nevertheless, the team has won four conference titles and eight divisional titles. Besides that, they never had any major success with their star players.
They have drafted some great players such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Yoa Ming, etc. However, each time they failed to make an impact.
With the rebuilding, they did land some good franchise players. Nonetheless, Huston could never overcome some great teams such as the Lakers or Warriors.
They even messed up with James Harden, who showed signs of being a great franchise player.
10. Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls are an Eastern conference that plays for the Central Division. The Bulls entered the big market during the Michael Jordan era.
During that time, the Bulls won six NBA titles. Besides that, the franchise has six conferences and nine divisional titles.
Teams like the Bulls don’t shine in the market led by mega teams such as Boston or Lakers. However, the franchise turned itself into a leading NBA team due to Jordan.
Nevertheless, the team hasn’t been the same years after Jordan’s year. They drafted Derrick Rose, who instantly rose into fame and carried the team to a good playoff run.
Despite his best efforts, injuries toned him down. However, the team has outdone itself in rebuilding time and time again.
History is proof that the Bulls are great at rebuilding. As of now, Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso have been tearing the Eastern Conference.
9. Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards are an Eastern conference that plays for the Central Division. Out of all the oldest NBA Teams, they have been relocated multiple times.
Similarly, the franchise has undergone multiple name changes over the year. The team was established as the Chicago Packers in 1961.
However, their name changed in the following season as the Chicago Zephyrs. Further, after two years, the franchise relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, as the Baltimore Bullets.
Ten years after relocating to Baltimore, the team moved to Washington as the Capital Bullets. The team again underwent another name change as the Washington Bullets.
Furthermore, after four years, they rebranded as the Washinton Wizards. Ever since they became the Wizards, they stuck with the name.
They only won one NBA title during this whole franchise change as the Washington Bullets. Likewise, they have been in the NBA Finals four times in their rich franchise history.
Moreover, they never had any player who won the league’s MVP award. Despite that, they have stuck long enough to be recognized as one of its oldest NBA teams.
8. Los Angeles Lakers
One of the most decorated teams in the NBA is the Los Angeles Lakers. They are one of two teams to have the highest number of NBA championships with seventeen titles.
As a result, along with being one of the oldest NBA teams, they are also one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA.
Many NBA players mention playing for the Lakers is the real American dream. Therefore, there is a huge list of great players playing this team.
Further, the team was established after purchasing a disbanded National Basketball League team, the Detroit Gems.
As a result, they were named the Minneapolis Laker, located in Minnesota. The team with great plays instantly had major success.
The mid-90s were all about the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Lakers. Both teams had an amazing set of players that helped them win championships in different eras.
Most of these players help create the nickname “Showtime Lakers.” They were so good that it was hard to imagine anyone else winning the title except them.
7. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Southeast Division. Originally, the team was established as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946 in New York.
Further, after 38 days of playing as the Bisons, they relocated to Moline, Illinois. Likewise, they rebranded as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks.
After merging NBL and BAA to form the NBA, they moved to Milwaukee and became the Milwaukee Hawks.
The franchise again relocated to St. Louis as the St. Louis Hawks. The team won one championship and went to the NBA Finals three seasons during this period.
After the owners sold the team to Thomas Cousins, they moved Atlanta to become the Atlanta Hawks.
Furthermore, the Hawks as the second team to have the longest drought of not winning an NBA title. It has been over 63 seasons since they last won a championship.
However, the All-Star point guard Trae Young did take the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in his second season with the team.
Nevertheless, Giannis-led Bucks were too much to handle for the young Hawk’s team.
6. Philadelphia 76rs
The Philadelphia 76rs are an Eastern conference team that plays for the Atlantic Division. Primarily they were established as the Syracuse Nationals.
Further, the franchise is one of the oldest NBA teams that survive the league’s first decade. As a result, the 76rs have had a rich history of Hall of Famers playing for them like Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, George McGinnis, and Allen Iverson.
Besides that, the franchise has won three NBA titles, all in the mid-90s. Similarly, they have five conferences and twelve divisional titles.
Having only three championships is a harsh reality for a team that has been in the league for such a long time.
Most players look for better pay or bigger teams in the market. Hence, various players dream of playing for the Lakers of the Knicks.
In such thought competition, to keep a drafted player for a long time seem impossible. However, the franchise has now hardly committed themselves with Joel Embiid.
Embed also wants to work thing with the team for a long time. Also, the trade for James Harden has uplifted the teams’ offensive games.
5. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Pacific Division. They were previously known as the Philadelphia Warriors.
After twenty years, the team moved to San Francisco and became the San Francisco Warriors. Later the team changed their name on the geographic moniker to Golden State.
Initially, they used to play for the Basketball Association of America (BAA). During this time, they won two championships in 1947 and 1956.
The team is having a great regular season under the league’s best three-point shooter Steph Curry.
However, they lack the firepower to make the push for the playoffs. No doubt, a good addition to the team will set them back at the top.
4. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Atlantic Division. Knicks is the short form for Knickerbockers.
As a result, the New York Knicks is just a shortened and more common name for the New York Knickerbockers.
Further, along with Boston, they are the only NBA teams that have never relocated in the year. Hence, the Knicks are a huge team in the basketball market.
Likewise, the team plays its game in the great Madison Square Garden. Due to the rich history of events held in this arena, MSG is one of the world’s most famous arenas.
As a result, many players perform great while playing in MSG. Besides that, the team has won only two NBA championships through decades of being in operation.
Despite having a huge fan base, the team hasn’t been able to use star power in their favor.
3. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are not only one of the most successful teams in the league but also one of the oldest NBA teams.
Similarly, they are also one of two teams in the NBA to be still located in its original city. Also, they are one of two teams to win the highest number of NBA titles with seventeen.
Further, they were founded in 1946 as one of eight NBA original teams. Due to the market of Celtics being huge and having great players play for them, they had major success.
Until the mid-90s, the Celtics ruled the Eastern Conference. Players such as Bill Russell helped set the tone for the franchise by winning eleven NBA titles.
Similarly, they are the only NBA team with the most recorded win in its history. Moreover, the franchise is known for its rivalry with the Lakers.
2. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Central Division. Originally, the team was founded in Fort Wayne.
As a result, they were recognized as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons in 1937. Ten years later, they renamed their team the Fort Wayne Pistons.
Likewise, after joining the NBA in 1957, they relocated to Detroit and became the Detroit Pistons. Previously, they played for the BAA, where they won two championships.
Further, as a part of the NBA, they have won only one NBA title in 2004. Point guard Chauncey Billups led the team.
The Pistons faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals. The Lakers were the favorites to win, but the Positions offered more than just an offensive game.
Their defense was on top of the world. Therefore, they never let any opponent have an easy bucket while playing them.
1. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a Western Conference team that plays for the Pacific Division. All the members of the Pacific Division are ranked amongst one of the oldest NBA teams.
Originally, they were set up as the Rochester Seagrams in 1923. Ten years later, the name was changed into 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 championships drought. Right behind them are the Atlanta Hawks.
Moreover, the team has failed in every aspect of rebuilding. It has been very long since the team has produced any league’s MVP of Hall of Famer.
The teams mentioned above are the oldest NBA teams of 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.