The National Basketball Association is the premier professional basketball league in the entire world. The teams are all located in North America, with the majority calling the United States home. Only the Toronto Raptors are located outside of the US, in Canada.
The thirty NBA franchises have taken many different roads to arrive in the present-day association. Some are a product of a bygone era and have existed in some shape or form since before the NBA was even founded. Others shared their inaugural season with the league itself. Still more came over as part of the ABA merger or joined the NBA has an expansion franchise later on. Despite how old they are or how decorated their past is, all of these clubs play an integral role in continuing the legacy of basketball in North America.
This article is about the fifteen teams that play in the Eastern Conference. We will give a brief overview of each team, including a story from the franchise’s history. We’ll examine where they came from, who their all-time best players are, and how many titles they’ve captured during their existence. There are few things better than NBA basketball; these are the organizations that make the league tick.
- Arena: Philips Arena
- Owner: Tony Ressler
- Founded/Joined: 1946/1949
The Hawks have been playing their home games in Atlanta, Georgia, since 1968, but their roots can be traced back all the way to Buffalo, New York, in 1946. They were a member of the National Basketball League for three years before the league merged with the Basketball Association of America in 1949 and formed the National Basketball Association, making the Hawks one of the inaugural franchises.
While still located in St. Louis, they made the finals four times, in 1957, 1958, 1960, and 1961, playing the Boston Celtics each time. The Hawks won only the 1958 championship and have not won their conference since the loss in ’61. They currently own the second-longest NBA championship draught, behind only the Kings.
Regardless, Atlanta has had some stretches of success, most notably the Dominique Wilkins teams of the 1980s and ‘90s and the Joe Johnson era in the mid-2000s. The team is currently in a rebuilding phase that is expected to take some time. If they want to improve, though, they’ll have to change their draft fortunes drastically; since 1980, they’ve only drafted four players that were ever chosen for the All-Star game.
|Dominique Wilkins||Small Forward||1982 – 1999|
|Robert Lee Pettit Jr.||Power forward/Center||1954–1965|
|Pistol Pete Maravich||Shooting Guard||1970–1980|
|Dikembe Mutombo||Center||1991 – 2009|
|Lou Hudson||Shooting Guard/Small Forward||1966–1979|
- Arena: TD Garden
- Owner: Boston Basketball Partners
- Founded/Joined: 1946
The Boston Celtics were founded in 1946 and have been the most successful franchise in league history ever since. One of the original eight teams, they’ve won seventeen championships, which means they’ve won almost 24% of all titles since the league was established. Over their storied history, they’ve been led by Hall of Famers like Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and the incomparable Bill Russell. Their winningest coach was Red Auerbach, who coached from 1950 to 1966, picking up nine titles along the way.
The best era in Celtics history is during the Bill Russell era. From 1957 through 1969, the big man led Boston to eleven titles, giving him the distinction of being the most decorated athlete ever to play in the NBA. They were able to keep the momentum going even after Russell’s retirement, winning again in 1974 and 1976 before Larry Bird arrived in ’79 and built another dynastic roster. Bird’s teams, along with Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, went on to win in 1981, 1984, and 1986. Many people still consider that 1986 squad the greatest team of all time.
Following Larry Bird’s retirement, the Boston Celtics hit their first meaningful championship drought. In fact, after losing in the finals in ’87, Boston wouldn’t win their conference for over twenty years. It wasn’t until Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were traded to play alongside Paul Pierce as a new “Big Three” that they’d return. They won it all again in 2008 and nearly captured 2010 as well before losing a Game 7 heartbreaker to the Lakers.
Currently, the Celtics are poised to create another dynasty, with a loaded roster and more first-round draft picks than they know what to do with. If they get healthy, it won’t be long now before they’re back to sitting atop the league where they’ve spent so much of their club’s history.
|Larry Bird||Small Forward||1979–1992|
|Bob Cousy||Point Guard||1950–1970|
|John Havlicek||Small Forward/Shooting Guard||1962–1978|
|Kevin McHale||Power Forward||1980–1993|
- Arena: Barclays Center
- Owner: Mikhail Prokhorov
- Founded/Joined: 1967/1976
The Nets, who were originally home in New Jersey, were founded in 1967 as an ABA team called the New Jersey Americans. Only a year later, they moved to New York and changed their name to the New York Nets. There they remained a fixture of the ABA for a decade, until the merger in 1976. They were one of the four franchises absorbed by the NBA during the merger, and after only a single season in their new league, the team moved back to New Jersey and kept the “Nets” name.
While the club has won two titles in their history, both were in the ABA. Those teams, led by “Dr. J” Julius Erving and Moses Malone, won in 1974 and 1976 but didn’t find the same success in their new league. In fact, they wouldn’t even return to the finals until 2002 and 2003, when Jason Kidd carried the team to back-to-back finals, though they lost both times.
In 2009, the franchise was purchased by Russia’s third-richest man (at the time), Mikhail Prokhorov. The billionaire promised to spend whatever it took to bring the team a title, and he also went about rebranding the club. The Nets were relocated back to New York, this time becoming the Brooklyn Nets, and a new $700-million arena named the Barclays Center was built. Unfortunately, short-sightedness led the team to spend all of their draft picks on aging Celtics stars, who performed well for only a season or two before retiring. Boston is still benefiting from the Nets’ many first-round draft picks, while Brooklyn has been unable to rebuild.
|Dražen Petrović||Shooting Guard||1979–1993|
|Jason Kidd||Point Guard||1994–2013|
|Julius Erving||Small Forward||1971–1987|
|John Lee Williamson||Shooting Guard||1973 – 1982|
|William P. Melchionni||Point Guard||1966 – 1976|
- Arena: Spectrum Center
- Owner: Michael Jordan
- Founded/Joined: 1988
The Charlotte Hornets have been around since 1988, although it’s a bit more complicated than that. The original Hornets franchise moved to New Orleans in 2002, keeping the name until 2013. Meanwhile, a new expansion team was brought to Charlotte in 2004: the Bobcats. When a new owner purchased the New Orleans club in 2013, they renamed the team the Pelicans, opening the door for Charlotte to become the Hornets again. While the NBA treats the current franchise as if they’ve existed since 1988, they’ve actually only been around since 2004.
The Hornets are owned by legendary Bulls player Michael Jordan, who purchased the team in 2010. While his skills on the court were unparalleled, his ability to identify and draft talent has left a lot to be desired, and the Hornets have struggled to significantly improve in their relatively short history. Shockingly, they’ve never even won their division, much less the conference or a title.
The organization seems to be slowly shaping up. They’ve got a franchise point guard in Kemba Walker, and in 2018, they hired Mitch Kupchak, the architect of many great Lakers rosters, as the new President of Basketball Operations. If they let him work his magic, the Hornets should finally find some post-season success and possibly win their division in the next few years. They have the assets and young talent; it’s just a matter of making the right moves in an Eastern conference that grows more competitive by the day.
|Bobby Phills||Shooting Guard||1991 – 2000|
|Larry Johnson||Power Forward||1991–2001|
|Glen Rice||Small Forward||1989–2004|
- Arena: United Center
- Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
- Founded/Joined: 1966
The Chicago Bulls franchise was founded in 1966, and though they had some decent teams in the ‘70s, their claim to fame is owning the ‘90s, completing two separate three-peats in the same decade. Four years after their creation, interest was beginning to wane, and attendance was way down. That’s when Pat Williams was brought in as the GM. He immediately made several roster moves, as well as creating Benny the Bull, the beloved mascot that the club still has to this day.
Williams’ moves had a drastic effect very quickly. Led by Jerry Sloan and Chet Walker, Chicago made the playoffs in four straight years, even making the conference finals in 1975 before losing to Golden State, who would go on to win the championship. During this time, average attendance grew to over 10,000 per game. After his fourth season, Williams returned to Philadelphia, and the Bulls were sold to the Wirtz family, who also owned the Chicago Blackhawks.
The new owners had no interest in the NBA and ran the team on a tight budget. The product on the court gradually deteriorated, and by 1983, attendance was down, and the Wirtz family was trying to find a buyer who would agree to move the team out of Chicago. While this was going on, the Bulls landed the third pick in the ’84 draft. After Portland wasted their pick on Sam Bowie, the Bulls jumped at the opportunity to draft Michael Jordan.
The team was purchased by Jerry Reinsdorf, and Jerry Krause was brought in as the GM. MJ was obviously something special from the start, but he still experienced growing pains early on. He was a high-volume scorer, but he couldn’t get over the hump in the playoffs. First, he ran into the juggernaut Celtics, and then the Bad Boy Pistons were in his way. In the ’87 draft, the Bulls grabbed Scottie Pippen to give Jordan some help, and three years later, they fired Doug Collins and gave the coaching job to Phil Jackson. The league would never be the same.
In 1990-91, the Bulls blitzed the league, winning 61 games in the regular season before finally advancing past the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Once Jordan got a look at the finals, he was unstoppable. The Bulls knocked off the Magic-led Lakers in only five games. Once they had the formula, Chicago was unstoppable, and they won the title the next two years as well. After a somewhat controversial and short retirement in 1993, Jordan returned in 1995, and the team got back to what they did best. From 1995 to 1998, the Chicago Bulls won another three championships in a row, giving them six for the decade and making them one of the most celebrated dynasties in league history.
|Michael Jordan||Shooting Guard||1984 – 1998, 2001|
|Scottie Pippen||Small Forward||1987–2008|
|Jerry Sloan||Shooting Guard/Small Forward||1965–1976|
|Robert Love||Small Forward||1965–1977|
|Dennis Rodman||Power Forward||1986–2006|
- Arena: Quicken Loans Arena
- Owner: Dan Gilbert
- Founded/Joined: 1970
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ inaugural season took place in 1970. They were brought into the NBA as an expansion team with two other franchises, and they struggled out of the gate. The Cavs lost their first fifteen games. They wouldn’t get much better anytime soon, and in their first five seasons, they never finished higher than sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Then, in 1976, they experienced their first winning season, leading to a playoff spot. Surprisingly, they took to the post-season quite well, advancing to the conference finals in their first try, before being eliminated.
However, the success was short-lived, especially after Ted Stepien bought the squad in 1980. Stepien made six coaching changes, drafted horribly, and made so many poor trades that the league had to step in and make a rule regarding how many draft picks a club can trade away, known as the “Stepien Rule.” From 1981 – 1983, the Cavaliers won 60 games and lost 180, including a 24-game losing streak, and lost $15 million.
After the team was sold to a new owner, things improved. The Cavs, led by Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, became perennial playoff participants, though they never got over the hump. Their best season came in 1992 when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before running into the Chicago Bulls buzz saw. They made the playoffs one last time in ’98, before enduring six consecutive losing seasons. But that’s when they got the first pick of the 2003 draft, which just so happened to be the year hometown hero LeBron James came into the league.
James made the Cleveland Cavaliers relevant in ways they’d never been almost immediately. In just his fourth season, he dragged a team of role players and misfits to the NBA Finals after single-handedly dispatching an incredible Pistons team. They lost to the Spurs, but as long as LeBron was there, the Cavs had a chance. But after years of failing to get James the talent he needed around him, The King took his talents to South Beach, devastating the city and franchise.
While he was in Miami finally winning titles, the Cavs were winning draft lotteries, one after another, restocking their roster with number-one picks. After four years, King James returned. He’s taken the Cavs to the finals every year since he got back, and in 2016, did the unimaginable. LeBron James actually brought a championship to the city of Cleveland, a feat nobody thought was possible. This was reflected in the betting odds, where the Warriors were 2-to-1 favorites, making Cleveland a dream underdog value wager.
|LeBron James||Small Forward||2003 – Present|
|Mark Price||Point Guard||1986–1998|
|Larry Nance Sr.||Power Forward||1981–1994|
|Austin Carr||Shooting Guard||1971–1981|
- Arena: Little Caesars Arena
- Owner: Tom Gores
- Founded/Joined: 1941/1948
The Detroit Pistons are older than the NBA itself, having existed since 1941. They were initially known as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, a National Basketball League squad playing out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1948, they jumped over the Basketball Association of America, the league that would eventually merge with the NBL and become the NBA.
In 1957, the franchise moved to Detroit, where they’ve been ever since. The Pistons took decades before becoming a winning team. They consistently had good talent throughout their history, but they were never able to assemble an entire winning roster. After a rough decade in the ‘70s, the Pistons landed Isiah Thomas in the 1981 draft, changing the course of the team and ensuring the ‘80s would be much better than the previous two decades.
Two years later, the team hired legendary coach Chuck Daly. The Bad Boy Pistons started to take form, with Dumars coming via the draft in 1985 and Rick Mahorn entering that same offseason through a trade. The next offseason brought John Salley, Dennis Rodman, and Adrian Dantley. The Bad Boy Pistons were born, and after some disappointing losses against the prime Boston Celtics, they finally got over the hump in 1989. The Detroit Pistons won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.
After the Bulls owned the ‘90s and the Lakers and Spurs took the early 2000s, another Pistons team would emerge, with a similar mindset and makeup as the original Bad Boys. Led by a core of Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace, the Pistons made six straight Eastern Conference Finals, winning the 2004 title by beating a stacked Lakers team consisting of Shaq, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton.
The Pistons entered that series as +400 underdogs compared to the -550 favored Lakers. For fans that bet on the NBA, this would have been an amazing finals pick. Detroit was deep and specialized in a smothering defensive system, just the formula you look for when scouting out upset betting opportunities.
|Isiah Thomas||Point Guard||1981 – 1994|
|Joe Dumars||Shooting Guard||1985 – 1999|
|Bill Laimbeer||Center||1979 – 1993|
|Chauncey Billups||Point Guard||1997- 2014|
|Dave Bing||Point Guard||1966 – 1978|
- Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
- Owner: Herbert Simon
- Founded/Joined: 1967/1976
The Indiana Pacers started as an ABA team in 1967. During their time in the rival league, the Pacers won three championships, in 1970, 1972, and 1973. When the merger finally took place, Indianapolis was one of the four franchises absorbed by the NBA. Due to the terms attached to joining the league, the Pacers began their NBA campaign struggling financially.
In fact, they had already begun selling off star players the last year in the ABA. Cut out of the TV revenues for four years, forced to pay $3.2 million to enter the NBA, and responsible for compensating the ABA leftovers that didn’t come along, the Pacers were unable to compete. Their first thirteen years were miserable, and they only recorded two non-losing seasons.
Things started turning around with the arrival of Reggie Miller in 1987. Miller became the face of the franchise and kept the team competitive and respectable during his prime. While they never won a title, he did give the fans numerous classic moments, most of which involved torturing Spike Lee and the New York Knicks. Finally, in 2000, the Pacers put together a team that was able to advance out of the east, meeting the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Indianapolis put forth a valiant effort, but there was just no defeating the prime Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers. The Pacers lost in six games, but they could hang their hat on the fact that they dealt LA the worst playoff defeat in their history up to that point, a thirty-three-point drubbing in Game Five. They built several more strong contenders, the most talented of which was the 2004 team. Unfortunately, at the end of a game versus the Pistons in Detroit, a brawl broke out, which led to several players entering the stands and fighting with fans. Numerous Pacers players were suspended for large chunks of the season, and Ron Artest was banned for the entire year.
|Reggie Miller||Shooting Guard||1987 – 2005|
|George McGinnis||Power Forward/Center||1971 – 1982|
|Mel Daniels||Center||1967 – 1976|
|Roger Brown||Small Forward||1967 – 1975|
|Bobby Leonard||Point Guard||1956 – 1963|
- Arena: American Airlines Arena
- Owner: Micky Arison
- Founded/Joined: 1988
The Miami Heat are one of the younger franchises in the NBA, only existing since 1988. They came into the league as an expansion team and have since won three championships. The most valuable player in the history of the team is Dwyane Wade, the superstar shooting guard drafted in 2003. In only his third year in the league, he beat the Mavs to capture his first title, and his friendship with LeBron James led to the other two.
Wade and James became close as members of the US Olympic Basketball team and eventually devised a scheme where they’d get to play with one another. When Wade, James, Chris Bosh, and several other big-name free agents became available in 2010, the entire basketball world was obsessed with where all this talent would land. What people weren’t expecting was for the three biggest names to all go to the same team. But they did, and that year LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade all signed with Pat Riley’s Miami Heat.
The team became the bad guys to the rest of the league. They took some time to find their chemistry, but once they did, the basketball was magnificent. The world rejoiced when they were upset by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, but the story wasn’t over yet. The Heat would regroup and come back to win it all in 2012 and 2013, back-to-back. They went to one last final together in 2014, where they were defeated by the Spurs.
Just like that, the Heatles were over. It was a fascinating four years, but after winning two titles, LeBron decided the best move was to return to Cleveland. Bosh ended up having blood clot issues, which ended his career. Wade left for a few years but ultimately returned to where he belongs. The Heat still has several good pieces on their roster and a lot of promise for the future. But it will be hard to ever capture that 2010 feeling again.
|Dwyane Wade||Shooting Guard||2003 – Present|
|Tim Hardaway||Point Guard||1989 – 2003, 2006|
|Alonzo Mourning||Center||1992 – 2008|
|Udonis Haslem||Power Forward||2002 – Present|
|LeBron James||Small Forward||2003 – Present|
- Arena: Bradley Center
- Owner: Wesley Edens
- Founded/Joined: 1968
The Milwaukee Bucks have been part of the NBA since 1968. Only three years after their inaugural season, they won their first and only NBA championship. Led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was called Lew Alcindor at the time, the Bucks became immediate contenders, improving by 29 games in a single season. Alcindor won NBA Rookie of the Year, and the following season, the Bucks landed Oscar Robertson as well.
In their third season, Milwaukee won 66 games and recorded a 20-game win streak during the regular season for good measure. They were unstoppable in the playoffs as well, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the finals to win the NBA championship in only their third year. They thus became the fastest expansion team to win a title in North American sports history.
In 1974, they were back in the Finals, this time against the Celtics. After Abdul-Jabbar’s famous sky hook at the buzzer won Game 6 for the Bucks, they were defeated in the final close-out game. This would be the last time the team would reach the finals. However, with a new coach and one of the most promising young talents in the league, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have an excellent chance of returning to the finals once again in the near future.
|Oscar Robertson||Point Guard||1960 – 1974|
|Sidney Moncrief||Shooting Guard||1979 – 1991|
|Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Center||1969 – 1989|
|Bob Lanier||Center||1970 – 1984|
|Bob Dandridge||Small Forward||1969 – 1981|
New York Knicks
- Arena: Madison Square Garden
- Owner: James Dolan
- Founded/Joined: 1946
The New York Knicks is one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, despite a shocking lack of success for the last several decades. Founded in 1946, the Knicks were one of the charter members of the Basketball Association of America, the league that eventually merged with the NBL and became the NBA. They are one of only two original NBA teams that are still located in their original location, with Boston being the other.
Despite being in a huge media market, having global brand appeal, and existing longer than almost any other team, the Knicks have only won two NBA championships. They haven’t even competed for one since 1999 when they lost to the Spurs. Most of the blame for this lack of winning rests solely on the shoulders of James Dolan, the team’s owner. His particular brand of meddling and delusion has led to this team requiring another rebuild time and time again.
The two Knicks titles came in 1970 and 1973. After the second title, they didn’t return to the finals for 21 years, where they faced the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won, and then five years later, the Knicks lost their last chance. Since then, they’ve tried creating a contender around Carmelo Anthony and other aging veterans, but they have only had limited and short-lived success.
Now that Melo is gone, and the team is building around Porzingis, there’s reason once again for Knicks fans to be optimistic. However, this organization has shown that unless the person at the top changes, nothing will ever truly change. With the Knicks’ glory years quickly approaching that 50th-anniversary mark, they better hope he stays out of the way or sells the team fast, or they may never see another dominant Knicks franchise again.
|Walt Frazier||Point Guard||1967 – 1980|
|Earl Monroe||Shooting Guard||1967 – 1980|
|Patrick Ewing||Center||1985 – 2002|
|Willis Reed||Center||1977 – 1989|
|Dave DeBusschere||Power Forward||1962 – 1974|
- Arena: Amway Center
- Owner: Richard DeVos
- Founded/Joined: 1989
The Orlando Magic is an expansion team that came into the league in 1989. After the typical slow start that most new organizations experience, the Magic were given an enormous gift for their third year. They won the first pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, meaning they got to select Shaquille O’Neal. A player with his size and athleticism made an immediate impact, improving their record by twenty games in the first season.
Somehow, despite the Magic just barely missing the playoffs, they won the draft lottery again the very next year! This time, they drafted Chris Webber, but he was flipped for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and additional picks. With Penny and Shaq, the Magic’s future definitely looked bright. And it was. By 1995, they had already advanced to the NBA Finals. Just making the finals was an impressive feat, but they were too young to take down the veteran Rockets.
The Magic were swept, with Hakeem Olajuwon seriously outperforming O’Neal. Shaq would only play one more season in Orlando. In 1996, they won 60 games but ran into the 72-win Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Nobody could beat that Bulls team – not even Shaquille O’Neal – and Chicago went on to win another title. That offseason, Shaq signed with the Lakers.
In 2010, the Magic once again found themselves in the finals. This time, they were following a new charismatic young center that called himself Superman. This time, the opponent was the Los Angeles Lakers, and once again, Orlando didn’t have the experience necessary to close the deal. Now, the Magic have a young core and lots of decisions to make about who to keep and who to move on from. They have a young stud in Aaron Gordon, but can you build a team around him? Only time will tell.
|Shaquille O’Neal||Center||1992 – 2011|
|Penny Hardaway||Point Guard||1993 – 2008|
|Tracy McGrady||Shooting Guard / Small Forward||1997 – 2013|
|Grant Hill||Shooting Guard||1994 – 2013|
|Dwight Howard||Center||2004 – Present|
- Arena: Wells Fargo Center
- Owner: Joshua Harris
- Founded/Joined: 1946/1949
The Philadelphia 76ers have existed since 1946 when they were founded as the Syracuse Nationals. The franchise is one of only eight teams to survive the league’s first decade. Fifteen other teams weren’t so lucky. The club went on to win three championships, with the most recent coming in 1983. Throughout 76er history, Philly has had some of the most iconic athletes in basketball history on their rosters.
Their first title came in 1955 when the team was still playing in Syracuse. They defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven games, winning by one thanks to some free throws taken in the final seconds of the last game. By 1967, the team had been relocated to Philadelphia. The team was led by the unstoppable Wilt Chamberlin, and they won their second title. The third title was won in 1983. The 76ers, who were led by a Julius “Dr. J” Ervin, traded for Moses Malone from Houston and became instant contenders.
Since that last win, they’ve had several great talents signed to rosters, including Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson. Iverson came closest to winning a title of anyone. In 2001, he almost single-handedly willed an overmatched Philly team into the finals against a juggernaut Lakers squad. Hey may not have pulled it off, but he created one of the most memorable moments in NBA history when he hit a three and stepped over Tyronn Lue.
After egregiously tanking for several years under the guidance of ex-GM Sam Hinkie, the 76ers acquired a ton of valuable assets and high draft picks. This allowed them to load the roster with players like Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons. Now, they are a highly-competitive playoff team in the east with unmeasurable potential in these next few seasons. If Fultz fixes his jump shot, they may be unstoppable soon. In fact, the 76ers are getting the third-favorite odds to win the 2018-19 NBA Finals, a bet already being offered at the best online NBA sports betting sites.
|Allen Iverson||Shooting Guard||1996 – 2010|
|Moses Malone||Center/Power Forward||1974 – 1995|
|Julius Erving||Small Forward||1971 – 1987|
|Charles Barkley||Power Forward||1984 – 2000|
|Maurice Cheeks||Point Guard||1978 – 1993|
- Arena: Air Canada Centre
- Owner: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
- Founded/Joined: 1995
The Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian NBA team. Initially, they were an expansion team along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, but after only six years, they relocated to Memphis, leaving only the Raptors. Toronto has had several great talents and outstanding teams, but they have yet to break through to the eastern conference finals or a finals bid. They have won their division five times but have historically struggled in the playoffs.
After a few years of being really bad, the Raptors landed their first star in 1998. They landed Vince Carter through a draft day trade and built a decent team around him. He rewarded them by leading the team to playoff appearances in 2000, 2001, and 2002. He also put on the most magnificent NBA Dunk Contest performance of all time in 2000. In their first playoffs, they advanced to the eastern conference semi-finals, but they were unable to build on that progress in subsequent years.
In 2004, after he quit on the team, Vince Carter was traded to the Nets. In his second year in the NBA, Chris Bosh stepped up to become the team leader and became a star in his own right. Bosh helped lead the team back to the playoffs in 2006-07 and 2007-08, but that was followed by a five-season draught. In 2010, Bosh joined LeBron and Wade in Miami, costing Toronto yet another star.
Since hiring Masai Ujiri in 2013, things have been looking up for Raptors fans. The brilliant GM built a team around DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry that has consistently been in the playoff picture. Now their only issue is finding a way around LeBron in the playoffs. Still, when you look at where they came from, it could be a lot worse.
|Vince Carter||Shooting Guard||1998 – Present|
|Tracy McGrady||Shooting Guard/Small Forward||1997 – 2013|
|Chris Bosh||Power Forward||2003 – 2016|
|Kyle Lowry||Point Guard||2006 – Present|
|DeMar DeRozan||Shooting Guard||2009 – Present|
- Arena: Capital One Arena
- Owner: Monumental Sports & Entertainment
- Founded/Joined: 1961
The Washington Wizards were founded in 1961 as the Chicago Packers. They only had that name for one year before becoming the Chicago Zephyrs, which also only lasted a single year. Finally, in 1963, they moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Bullets. They stayed put for a decade, before eventually moving to Washington DC and becoming the Capital Bullets. This was changed to Washington Bullets a year later, the name that stuck from 1974 until 1997.
Eventually, in response to gang violence and the generally bad optics the name “Bullets” creates, the team changed their name one last time to the Wizards. Washington has only won a single championship in their history, which occurred in 1977-78. Led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, the team finished the regular season with a mediocre 44 and 38 record. But once the post-season started, the Bullets (that was their name then) were locked in. They met the Seattle Supersonics in the finals, beating them in seven games to bring Washington DC a sports championship for the first time in decades.
Since their title run, Washington has never really become a top contender again, but they’ve had some very entertaining moments. For example, in 2001, when Michael Jordan returned from retirement to play for the Wizards. Shortly after MJ retired again, the Gilbert Arenas era began. Arenas was a prolific scorer and talented player, but a bit of a headcase.
In 2007, Arenas tore his MCL during a game late in the season. Unable to perform, he watched his team get eliminated by LeBron James in four games. In 2007-08, he spent the majority of the year slowly trying to work his knee back into shape. He was forced to come off the bench most of the year, and once again, he sat out the playoffs, citing soreness. At the end of the season, Arenas opted out of the final year of his contract. After an entire year of being unable to play on his knee, the Wizards signed Arenas to a six-year $111-million contract.
He attempted to come back here and there during the 2009-10 season, but he was never the same again. Then, in 2009, he brought handguns into the locker room and got into some kind of dispute with Javaris Crittenton. This resulted in a lengthy suspension and a felony. The Wizards weren’t able to get out of the contract and were paying him a fortune for almost zero production for years.
|Gilbert Arenas||Point Guard||2001 – 2013|
|Wes Unseld||Center||1968 – 1981|
|Elvin Hayes||Power Forward||1968 – 1984|
|Gus Johnson||Power Forward||1963 – 1973|
|Phil Chenier||Shooting Guard||1971 – 1981|