Top 13 Oldest NBA Teams

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NBA is one of the major professional basketball leagues in Northern America, with 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada). It came as the 1948-49 merger of the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL).

Before the merger, each league was different and hosted different franchises. Of all the teams that played in both leagues, very few made it into the NBA & are in existence till now.

Hence, those teams got the tag of the oldest NBA teams.

Philadelphia Warriors As The Oldest NBA Team
Oldest NBA Teams (Source:

Preserving something for a long time and building its culture is tough.

And to maintain something as operational as a team carrying a history of feats is much more complex than any other entity for sure.

Hence, without wasting time, let us know how these teams survived for a long time.

The teams mentioned below are assembled based on their foundation period. In addition, they are also created based on the longevity of the NBA.

Quick View

Team Name
Year Founded Current Location
13. Phoenix Suns 1968 Phoenix, Arizona
12. Oklahoma City Thunder 1967 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
11. Houston Rockets 1967 Houston, 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

Oldest NBA Teams In The World

13. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns compete in the NBA as a member of the Pacific division of the Western Conference. They have been in the league long enough to be known as one of the oldest NBA teams.

They are the only team in their division that isn’t based in California. The other four teams (the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers & Kings) are based in California.

Founded in 1968, the Suns are yet to win any NBA championship- the same goes for its divisional rival, the LA Clippers.

Nevertheless, the Phoenix Suns were close to winning the titles various times. They won three conference titles (1976, 1993 & 2021).

Moreover, the team won eight division titles (1981, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2021, & 2022).

Oldest NBA Teams, Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns Logo (Source:

They have had eleven Hall of Famers throughout these years, and only two (Charles Barkley and Steve Nash) have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award among them.

Due to the franchise failing to capture the NBA championships, they have gone into various rebuilding.

The franchise’s up-and-coming trio Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Chris Paul are now the watch-out players.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder is a Western Conference team that plays in its Northwest division. The team is located in Oklahoma.

From the time of its foundation in 1967 to 2008, it went by the name Seattle SuperSonics.

Aside from that, they were previously known to be the Seattle 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.

The team won their only NBA championship in 1979- they were known as the SuperSonics then.

Thunder OKC, NBA
Oklahoma City Thunder As Oldest NBA Team (Source: Wikipedia)

Ever since then, the franchise has been trying to register its name in the NBA Championship trophy for the second time but fell short every time.

The scenario nearly changed when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played for them as the City Thunder went on to win the conference finals in the 2012 NBA playoffs.

Nevertheless,  the LeBron-led Heat beat them in the finals to claim their second title.

The team is in the mid of rebuilding its young core. Over the next five years, the franchise has 37 draft picks with multiple trades; the draft picks contain 19 first-rounder and 18 second-round draft picks.

In addition, for the 2022 NBA draft, the Thunder selected Chet Holmgren as their second overall pick and Jalen Williams as their twelfth pick.

Hence, OKC is looking into building a championship-caliber team in the long term.

11. Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets are a Western Conference team of the NBA that plays in the Southwest Division. They were known as the San Diego Rockets, based in San Diego.

In 1971, the franchise relocated to Houston 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 (1994 & 1995). Similarly, both titles came before the relocation of the franchise to Houston.

Nevertheless, the team has won four conference titles and eight divisional titles. Besides that, they are yet to have any major success with their star players.

Rockets Of The NBA
Houston Rockets Logo (Source:

They have drafted great players such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Yoa Ming, etc. With that, they make smaller impacts to bigger success each time.

With the rebuilding, they did land some good franchise players. Houston is in the process of being a great team like the Lakers or Warriors.

However, unfortunately, they 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 championships. Besides that, the franchise has six conferences and nine divisional titles.

The franchise became a leading NBA team due to Jordan. However, they couldn’t shine much due to the mega teams like Boston or the Lakers. 

Nevertheless, the team hasn’t been the same after Jordan’s year. They drafted Derrick Rose in the 2008 NBA draft, who instantly rose to fame and carried the team to a good playoff run.

Oldest Team Of NBA, Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls, As The Oldest Team (Source: Wikipedia)

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. Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso have been tearing the Eastern Conference.

Similarly, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng made a perfect team that gave LeBron-led Heat a very tough time.

Everyone knows about the great partnership between Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman.

The Bulls have been aiming to boost their team and were hopeful about the new signing of Patrick Beverley in a 1-year $801,614 contract.

In his Bulls debut, Patrick made the Nets sweat on Feb 24th, 2023, when he started as the point guard in a 131-87 win against the Nets.

9. Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards, of the Central Division in the Eastern Conference, has been active since 1961, initially founded as Chicago Parkers.

Out of all the oldest NBA teams, they have been relocated multiple times & underwent multiple name changes over the years.

From 1962 to 1963, they played as Chicago Zephyrs and then relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, to become the Baltimore Bullets.

The team moved to Washington as the Capital Bullets ten years after relocating to Baltimore. The team again underwent another name change, the Washington Bullets, in 1974.

Oldest NBA Teams
Washington Wizards Logo (Source:

In 1997, they rebranded as the Washinton Wizards. Ever since they became the Wizards, they have stuck with the name.

During this franchise change as the Washington Bullets, they only won one NBA championship in 1978. Likewise, they have been in the NBA Finals four times in their rich franchise history.

Moreover, they won eight division titles and have Wes Unseld (1969) as the only player to become MVP in the franchise’s history.

With all its ups and downs, Washington Wizard is one of the foremost oldest seasoned 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 with 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 on this team.

The team was established after purchasing a disbanded National Basketball League team, the Detroit Gems. 

Los Angeles Lakers As The Oldest Team Of NBA
Los Angeles Lakers American Basketball Team (Source: Wikipedia)

As a result, they were named the Minneapolis Lakers, located in Minnesota. The team with great plays instantly had major success.

The mid-90s were 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.

It included players such as Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and many more.

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 of the NBA that plays in the Southeast Division. Initially, the team was established as the Buffalo Bisons in 1946 in New York.

But 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 in 1951.

The franchise again relocated to St. Louis as the St. Louis Hawks from 1951 to 1955. The team won one championship (1958) and went to the NBA Finals for three seasons during this period.

Atlanta Hawks Is The Eastern Conference Southeast Division
Atlanta Hawks Was Established In 1946 (Source: Wikipedia)

After the owners sold the team to Thomas Cousins, they moved to Atlanta to become the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks is the second team in the NBA to have the longest drought of not winning an NBA title. It has been over 63 seasons since they last won a championship.

The All-Star point guard Trae Young took the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2020-2021 season, where they lost to the Bucks.

Giannis-led Bucks were too much to handle for the young Hawk’s team.

6. Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Atlantic Division. Primarily they were established as the Syracuse Nationals.

The franchise is one of the oldest NBA teams that survive the league’s first decade.

As a result, the 76ers 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.

Oldest NBA Teams
Philadelphia 76ers Is One Of The Oldest Teams In NBA (Source: Wikipedia)

Having only three championships is a harsh reality for a team in the league for so long.

Most players look for better pay or bigger teams in the market. Hence, various players dream of playing for the Lakers or the Knicks.

Keeping a drafted player for long seems impossible in such a tough competition. However, the franchise has now hardly committed itself to Joel Embiid.

Embed also wants to work things 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 a Western 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 the 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.

GSW Logo
Golden State Warriors Logo (Source:

The Golden State Warriors, the team won five NBA titles in 1975, 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2022. The later phase of success happened due to the trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.

The team is having a great regular season under the league’s best three-point shooter Steph Curry.

According to Forbes, in 2022, Golden State Warriors took the top spot as the most valued NBA team with a worth of $7 billion, 25% more than last year for the top NBA team values.

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.

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.

Knicks Logo
New York Knicks logo (Source:

The team plays its game in the great Madison Square Garden. Due to the rich history of events in this arena, MSG is one of the world’s most famous arenas.

As a result, many players perform great while playing in MSG. Throughout decades of operation, the team has won only two NBA championships (in 1970 & 1973).

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 one of the most successful teams in the league and one of the oldest NBA teams.

They are one of two teams in the NBA still in its original city. Also, they are one of two teams to win the highest number of NBA titles, i.e. seventeen NBA Championship trophies.

The Celtics were founded in 1946 as one of eight NBA original teams. Due to a huge market favor & having great players play for them, they had major success.

Boston's NBA Logo
Boston Celtics Logo (Source:

Until the mid-90s, the Celtics ruled the Eastern Conference. Players like Bill Russell helped set the tone for the franchise by winning eleven NBA titles.

The Celtics are the only NBA team with the most recorded win in history. Moreover, the franchise is known for its rivalry with the Lakers.

Mainly when Larry Bird used to play for the Celtics and Magic Johnson for the Lakers; both teams have played each other twelve times in the NBA Finals.

2. Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons are an Eastern Conference team that plays for the Central Division. Initially, 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.

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.

Oldest NBA Teams
Detroit Pistons Logo (Source:

The Detroit Pistons have won five championships, 2 in NBL (1944 & 1945) and three in the NBA (1989, 1990 & 2004.)

The Pistons faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988 NBA 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 opponents 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.

Initially, they were set up as the Rochester Seagrams in 1923. Roughly 20 years later, the name was changed to the Rochester Eber Seagrams.

They were again named the Rochester Pros, then Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City Kings, and Sacramento Kings.

Kings Logo
Sacramento Kings Logo (Source:

They won their first and only NBA championships in 1951 while carrying the flag of Rochester Royals.

 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.

On March 29, 2023, the Kings broke the 16 years playoff drought by beating Blazers (120-80) to clinch a playoff spot.

Even if it’s been quite a time since the team produced any league’s MVP or Hall of Famer, fans are eager to see new stars from the franchise in action.


The teams mentioned above are the oldest NBA teams of them all. They existed even before the NBA formed & before the three-point line was invented.

Let’s appreciate these teams for entertaining the viewers for multiple decades. Without these franchises, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today.

Learn About the 10 Best Players in the NBA Right Now

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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