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NBA Teams – Western Conference

NBA Western Conference

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 by-gone era and have existed in some shape or form since before the NBA was even founded. Other 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.

This article is all about the fifteen teams that play in the Western Conference. For the last couple decades, Western Conference teams have tended to be the most competitive, with the bulk of the championships headed their way to prove it. In the following sections, we’ll examine how these organizations got their start, 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.

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks Logo

  • Arena: American Airlines Center
  • Owner: Mark Cuban
  • Founded/Joined: 1980
  • Summary:

The city of Dallas, Texas, was given a chance to get an NBA team in 1980 when Don Carter, the owner of Home Interiors and Gifts, successfully negotiated a $12.5-million deal with a reluctant league. With two Texas teams already nearby and the NBA struggling to turn a profit or attract viewers, the commissioner was hesitant to bring in another franchise. But the NBA owners would approve the new team at the 1980 All-Star game. The new name was chosen by the fans, who sent in 4,600 postcards with the title of the 1950s western written in as their choice in an overwhelming majority.

The team hit an immediate roadblock when their inaugural draft pick, Kiki VanDeWeghe, refused to play for the upstart club, holding out for a month before being traded to Denver. But this ended up working out in the Mavs’ favor, and the two draft picks they got in return were Rolando Blackman and Sam Perkins. Still, the expansion team felt the growing pains of their first NBA season, recording a 6-40 record out of the gate and finishing at 15-67.

Through smart roster moves and good draft picks, Dallas became a contender by 1983. But while they could get close, the best result they were able to manage was a division win and trip to the Conference finals in 1987. There, they lost to the eventual champion Lakers in seven games. They’d soon go into rebuilding mode, which eventually netted them Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash after some brief success and lots of drama with Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson.

In 2000, tech billionaire Mark Cuban purchased the team and injected tons of cash, giving his players the best facilities and treatment in the league at that time. Led by their 7-foot-tall German shooter, the Mavericks built some solid teams, notably the 2006 squad that won 60 games and advanced to the finals before being railroaded by atrocious officiating against the Miami Heat. Finally, in 2011, the Mavs returned to the finals, this time to face the LeBron James Miami Heat. Despite being massive underdogs, Dallas pulled out a miracle, with Dirk playing the series of his life. Mark Cuban and Dirk finally got their championship.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Dirk NowitzkiPower Forward1994 – present
Derek HarperPoint Guard1983 – 1999
Brad DavisPoint Guard1977 – 1992
Rolando BlackmanShooting Guard1981 – 1997
Sam PerkinsPower Forward/Center1984 –2001

Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets Logo

  • Arena: Pepsi Center
  • Owner: Josh Kroenke
  • Founded/Joined: 1967 / 1976
  • Summary:

The Denver Nuggets were a charter franchise of the ABA, established along with the league in 1967. They were initially called the Denver Larks but changed their name to the Rockets before the season began. They kept that name until 1974, at which point the club settled on the “Nuggets” name.

Denver was a constant fixture in the ABA playoffs, even advancing to the Championship in 1976, the last year before the merger. They would ultimately lose to the Nets before becoming one of the four teams absorbed by the NBA at that time. In the new league, Denver continued finding their way into the post-season, qualifying for nine straight years in the 1980s. However, they never were able to win their conference.

It was more of the same in the early 2000s. Led by their young superstar Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets made the playoffs for a decade straight between 2004 and 2013. But they always fell short before reaching the finals. In fact, the franchise has never participated in an NBA Finals series. Eventually, Anthony forced his way off the team and was traded to the Knicks. The team is currently building around Nikola Jokic, a talented Serbian center, and hoping to eventually put a squad around him that can actually lead Denver to their first finals appearance.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Carmelo AnthonySmall Forward2003 – Present
Alex EnglishSmall Forward1976 –1992
Fat LeverPoint Guard1982 – 1994
David ThompsonShooting Guard/Small Forward1975 – 1984
Dan IsselCenter/Power Forward1970 – 1985

Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors Logo

  • Arena: Oracle Arena
  • Owner: Joe Lacob
  • Founded/Joined: 1946
  • Summary:

The Golden State Warriors began their journey as a team in 1946 in Philadelphia. They were known as the Warriors even back then and were a charter member of the Basketball Association of America, the precursor to the NBA. In 1962, the franchise relocated to San Francisco and was called the San Francisco Warriors for the next nine years. It wasn’t until 1971 that they changed the first part of their name to Golden State.

The Warriors have a total of five championships, two of which have come in the last three years. They won the BAA’s inaugural season in 1947, led by Joe Fulks. This is the title that the NBA recognizes as the first championship in league history. They won again in 1956, beating the Fort Wayne Pistons in five games thanks to Paul Arizin, Tom Gola, and Neil Johnson. Three years later, they’d draft a player named Wilt Chamberlin, one of the most dominant forces basketball has ever seen.

While Wilt never won a title with the Warriors, he was a member of the team when he recorded his 100-point game. They did reach the finals with Wilt, but they were beaten by the Celtics in 1964. They subsequently traded Chamberlin, before drafting Rick Barry the next year. However, after a financial dispute with the team, Barry sat out for the 1967-68 season before leaving for an ABA team.

The Warriors have fielded many great teams in their history, but perhaps none like they currently possess. After the firing of Mark Jackson and hiring of Steve Kerr in 2014, the group became unstoppable. In Kerr’s first year, they won 67 games and the title. The very next year, they won 73 games, breaking the regular-season record. However, they were upset in the finals by LeBron’s Cavs. That offseason, Kevin Durant, one of the top three players in the game, signed with a 73-win team. They won the title the very next year. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping them in sight.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Steph CurryPoint Guard2009 – Present
Wilt ChamberlinCenter1959 – 1973
Chris MullinSmall Forward1985 – 2001
Rick BarrySmall Forward1965 – 1980
Nate ThurmondCenter/Power Forward1963 – 1977

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Logo

  • Arena: Toyota Center
  • Owner: Tilman Fertitta
  • Founded/Joined: 1967
  • Summary:

The team that would eventually become the Houston Rockets was established in 1967 in San Diego. The San Diego Rockets began as an expansion franchise, winning only fifteen games in their first year. They drafted Elvin Hayes that first offseason, and the superstar power forward immediately led the team to their first playoffs in his rookie season.

In 1971, the Rockets relocated to Houston, where they’ve stayed ever since. They traded for Moses Malone in 1976, which proved to be a franchise-changing move. He won the MVP award twice and led Houston to the conference finals in his first year. The team got their first taste of the finals in 1981, but they were defeated by the Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird.

The best player in Rockets history is Hakeem Olajuwon, their Hall of Fame center drafted in 1984. After building a promising a team and once again challenging the Celtics in the 1986 finals, the Rockets team fell apart just before they realized their potential. Injuries to Ralph Sampson and the lifetime ban of both their starting guards for cocaine usage gutted the team. It wouldn’t be until 1993-94 that they’d make it back. This time, Olajuwon painted his masterpiece, humiliating all centers who stood in his way.

The Rockets went on to beat the Knicks for the title. They followed that campaign up with another championship run in 1995, this time sweeping Shaquille O’Neal’s Orlando Magic. The Rockets haven’t won a title since, but they typically stay competitive. There were years with Tracy McGrady and Yao that were ultimately derailed by injuries, and their current team is extremely deep and competitive. Led by James Harden and Chris Paul, if they only existed in any time other than during the Warriors’ dynasty, they’d be a championship squad.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Hakeem OlajuwonCenter1984 – 2002
Clyde DrexlerShooting Guard1983 – 1998
James HardenShooting Guard2009 – Present
Yao MingCenter2002 – 2011
Calvin MurphyPoint Guard1970 – 1983

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Arena: Staples Center
  • Owner: Steve Ballmer
  • Founded/Joined: 1970
  • Summary:

The LA Clippers were established in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves in Buffalo, New York. The team only stayed in New York for eight seasons before heading west and settling in San Diego in 1978. There, it would be only six more years before they relocated once again, this time to Los Angeles, where they’ve been ever since.

For the vast majority of the Clippers’ existence, they’ve been known as the perennial losers. The franchise has no championship rings and no conference titles in their entire history. The two division titles that they’ve won came recently, after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin made them competitors for a few years. They are now once again rebuilding, but this time with the help of Jerry West, which is a promising situation for a club that hasn’t had many good moments.

Perhaps the height of the Clippers’ embarrassment came in 2014, when recordings of their owner, Donald Sterling, were leaked. He was caught on tape making racist remarks to his mistress, which led to the Commissioner issuing a lifetime ban and forcing him to sell the team. After some legal wrangling, the franchise was sold to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

Suddenly, the historical laughing stock is in a decent position. They have an owner with incredibly deep pockets, and Jerry West is helping to build the roster. While starting over after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin may not seem ideal, this is arguably the best position the Clippers and their fans have been in for quite a long time. The future is bright.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Blake GriffinPower Forward2009 – Present
DeAndre JordanCenter2008 – Present
Randy SmithShooting Guard1971 – 1983
Chris PaulPoint Guard2005 – Present
Bob McAdooPower Forward1972 – 1993

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Logo

  • Arena: Staples Center
  • Owner: Buss Family Trusts
  • Founded/Joined: 1947 / 1948
  • Summary:

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only NBA franchise with a history of winning comparable to the Boston Celtics. Since their inaugural year in 1947, they’ve won sixteen titles, with the most recent coming in 2010. The team spent their first thirteen years in Minneapolis, where they won five championships, before finally moving to Los Angeles in 1960. It’s fitting that those earliest titles were delivered by George Mikan, the man most consider to be the NBA’s first superstar.

Since the days of Mikan, the Lakers have rarely hurt for star power. They won with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlin in the early ‘70s. After Wilt came Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was closely followed by Magic Johnson, who joined the team in 1979. James Worthy became a member of the Lakers with Kareem and Magic as well, and the trio won five titles together.

After the Showtime Lakers dynasty ended, Los Angeles went into a bit of a lull. In 1996, they drafted Kobe Bryant and convinced Shaquille O’Neal to sign as a free agent. By 2000, LA was back to winning championships. This time, they won three straight. Eventually, egos tore the team apart, but by 2009, they were contending once again. A team led by Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, continuing the ludicrous reign of success this franchise has experienced.

They are currently very young, but they have a roster full of up-and-coming athletes and plenty of cap room for big-name agents. It won’t be long until the right player signs, and one of these young men develops, and they’ll be right back at the top of the heap where they’ve always been.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Magic JohnsonPoint Guard1979 – 1991
Kareem Abdul-JabbarCenter1969 – 1989
Jerry WestPoint Guard1960 – 1974
Kobe BryantShooting Guard1996 – 2016
Shaquille O’NealCenter1992 – 2011

Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzles Logo

  • Arena: FedExForum
  • Owner: Robert Pera
  • Founded/Joined: 1995
  • Summary:

The Grizzlies were brought into the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1995. Along with the Toronto Raptors, they were meant to be the league’s second Canadian team. The team started in Vancouver, but the first several years were extremely unsuccessful. The team was terrible and only finished better than last once out of six years. The Canadian dollar was weak, US players didn’t want to move there, and attendance was down. They had to move.

Immediately upon moving to Memphis, the Grizzlies hit on one of the most significant trades in their franchise history: trading to get the third pick of the draft, Pau Gasol, from the Atlanta Hawks. They then obtained Shane Battier that same draft. Jerry West was brought in by ownership next to become the general manager. West quickly loaded the team with talents like Mike Miller and James Posey, turning the lowly Vancouver team into contenders very quickly.

Memphis made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2007. Until recently, the Grizzlies have been able to put a consistently competitive product out on the floor. They eventually traded Pau Gasol for his brother and several other pieces, a move that was harshly criticized at the time, but that ended up being the right move.

In 2010, the Grit and Grind Grizzlies were born. The team became known for their toughness and tenacity on defense. With players like Zach Randolph and Tony Allen setting the tone and Rudy Gay shouldering the bulk of the scoring duties, Memphis was a legitimate contender for years. They never entirely made it all the way, but over a decade of consistent high-level play is nothing to sneeze at.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Mike ConleyPoint Guard2007 – Present
Marc GasolCenter2003 – Present
Pau GasolCenter2001 – Present
Zach RandolphPower Forward2001 – Present
Tony AllenSmall Forward2004 – Present

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves Logo

  • Arena: Target Center
  • Owner: Glen Taylor
  • Founded/Joined: 1989
  • Summary:

The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the NBA in 1989 as an expansion team. Their early years involved a lot of losing, like most new teams, but it paid off when they landed Kevin Garnett in the 1995 NBA Draft. Drafted straight out of high school, Garnett was a rare combination of size, speed, and skill. The seven-footer could dribble, shoot the midrange, and had an intensity that was borderline psychotic. But it was great for winning basketball games.

Garnett’s impact was felt relatively early on, and the team qualified for the playoffs every year from 1997 through 2004. However, in seven of those attempts, they lost in the first round. While Kevin was incredible, the team always did a poor job of surrounding him with the right talent. It wasn’t until 2004 that he had a decent team around him, and the T-Wolves advanced to the Western Conference Finals.

As of 2018, Minnesota is back in the playoffs again, after years of rebuilding. With Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and their young star center Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves have a solid young core to be excited about. They didn’t have much success in their first trip back to the playoffs, but in fairness, playing against the top-seeded Rockets was a tough test for any young team.

If Minnesota can get a coach who better relates to his players and gets the most out of them, they’ll have a very bright future. They have young, tenacious wing players, a star in the making at center, and plenty of room to make more moves, even if they have to trade Wiggins. Don’t look past the Timberwolves. With just a few tweaks, they can be contenders.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Kevin GarnettPower Forward/Center1995 – 2016
Kevin LovePower Forward2008 – Present
Karl-Anthony TownsCenter2015 – Present
Jimmy ButlerShooting Guard/Small Forward2011 – Present
Wally SzczerbiakShooting Guard1999 – 2009

New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans Logo

  • Arena: Smoothie King Center
  • Owner: Gayle Benson
  • Founded/Joined: 2002
  • Summary:

The New Orleans Pelicans have officially only been around since 2002. But the Charlotte Hornets, which moved to New Orleans in 2002, have really been around since 1988. They just gave the Hornets’ history back to Charlotte once the name was changed to “Pelicans.” Regardless, it doesn’t matter when the Pelicans were founded; all that matters is that they have The Brow.

After a controversial year, when the NBA was running the franchise and looking for an owner, New Orleans landed the first overall pick in a year in which a transcendent talent was entering the league. People cried conspiracy because it certainly looked fishy that a team that was currently for sale hit such a hugely improbable win at such an opportune time. People probably wouldn’t have cared too much, but this was shortly after the vetoing of a Chris Paul trade that was already making fans furious.

Since acquiring Anthony Davis in 2012, the team has been steadily improving. A trade for DeMarcus Cousins has given New Orleans the deadliest frontcourt in the league. This year, Cousins got hurt, but if the two big men stay healthy and develop some more chemistry, they’re going to be horrifying in the playoffs. With additional talents like Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, and Nikola Mirotic, the Pelicans are definitely a team to keep an eye on in the future.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Anthony DavisCenter/Power Forward2012 – Present
Chris PaulPoint Guard2005 – Present
Pete MaravichPoint Guard1970 – 1980
David WestPower Forward2003 – Present
Baron DavisPoint Guard1999 – 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena
  • Owner: Clay Bennett
  • Founded/Joined: 1967
  • Summary:

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team that was created based on a lie. The current owners deceived the people of Seattle and bought the franchise knowing they were going to steal it and move it to Oklahoma all along, which is an unfortunate stain on David Stern’s legacy. Regardless, in their short time as the Thunder, this club has made an enormous impact on the surface of the NBA. They had one of the best streaks of draft picks the world has ever seen, and as recently as 2012, they had James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook all on the same team.

After making the finals in 2012 and losing to the Heat, for some reason their GM traded Harden and began the slow breakup of this promising potential dynasty. Since then, each of the three players has earned an MVP award, showing you just what could have been. Instead, this lead to frustrations in the locker-room, which eventually resulted in Kevin Durant leaving in free agency, essentially putting an end to the Thunder’s title hopes.

Now, they are single-handedly controlled by Russell Westbrook. While he’s easily one of the most explosive and impressive athletes in the NBA, Westbrook also isn’t always the best teammate and smartest player. He cares too much about getting his own stats, and that comes at the expense of his teammates. His immense talent is still enough to keep the Thunder in the playoff picture but not enough to make them legitimate contenders.

The Thunder will always be one of the most frustrating “What if?” stories in league history. A team with three MVP-level talents blew it all up several years too early, just to save room on the roster for Kendrick Perkins. Each year that passes, it looks worse and worse. And now, because of those decisions, Kevin Durant joined a 73-win team and basically ruined the competitive balance of the NBA.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Lenny WilkensPoint Guard1960 – 1975
Jack SikmaCenter1977 – 1991
Nate McMillanPoint Guard1986 – 1998
Gary PaytonPoint Guard1990 – 2007
Russell WestbrookPoint Guard2008 – Present

Phoenix Suns

PHX Logo

  • Arena: Talking Stick Resort Arena
  • Owner: Robert Sarver
  • Founded/Joined: 1968
  • Summary:

The Phoenix Suns have been an NBA team since 1968, entering the league as an expansion team one year after the ABA-NBA merger. They have never won a championship, although they deserved to and have had several groups in different eras that came close. Their first legitimate chance came in 1993, the year they traded for Charles Barkley, and he responded by turning in an MVP season that led them to the finals.

Unfortunately, like so many stars of that era, he ran into Michael Jordan in the finals. Still, he turned in some incredible performances that year, particularly in the double-overtime victory in Game 3 of the 1993 Finals. Just over ten years later, Phoenix would have another championship-worthy team, this time being led by the Steve Nash. The Seven Second or Less Suns were a joy to watch, and their play style revolutionized the game in ways we still see to this day.

In many ways, they invented the high-powered up-tempo offenses with small ball lineups, stretch fours, and getting shots up early in the shot clock. When they were playing modern basketball, the rest of the league was still working for post-ups and taking midrange jumpers. All of the pace and space tactics of the current NBA are influenced by what Mike D’Antoni installed in Phoenix.

The Suns should have won a title during their Nash years. They just ran into a mix of horrible luck and a cheap owner. They sold the draft picks to players like Andre Iguodala or Luol Deng, players that could have put them over the top. Beyond that, Horry hip-checked Nash into a scorer’s table, causing his teammates to come to his defense. Leaving the bench got them each suspended for a crucial Game 5. Another year, a young Joe Johnson got his eye orbital broken. Those teams had all the tools and all the talent; sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Kevin JohnsonPoint Guard1987 – 2000
Charles BarkleyPower Forward1984 – 2000
Steve NashPoint Guard1996 – 2015
Dan MajerleShooting Guard1988 – 2002
Amar’e StoudemirePower Forward/Center2002 – 2016

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trailblazers

  • Arena: Moda Center
  • Owner: Paul Allen
  • Founded/Joined: 1970
  • Summary:

The Trail Blazers were established in 1970 in Portland, Oregon. They were one of three expansion teams that joined the NBA that year, along with the Buffalo Braves and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Success did not come easy, though; they missed the playoffs in each of their first six seasons. In 1974, they would use the first pick of the draft to select Bill Walton, a tremendous player in his prime.

After the merger with the ABA, the Blazers were able to add Maurice Lucas to their roster, and they hired Jack Ramsay as their coach. These two moves put the team over the top. In 1977, they earned their first winning record, qualified for their first post-season, and won their first NBA championship. Once they got to the dance, they really tore the whole thing down. Walton won both regular season and finals MVP for his stellar play.

The next season looked to be more of the same, and the Trail Blazers had a 50 and 10 record deep into the season. Just as people were beginning to think about another dynasty, Bill Walton suffered a foot injury that would permanently derail his career. That offseason, he demanded a trade, enraged about the medical treatment he received in Portland. He would go on to win another title as a sixth man for the Boston Celtics.

If there’s anything that haunts the Blazers franchise, it’s two draft-day decisions that they’ve made, which closely resemble one another. In 1984, they had the second pick of the draft. After Houston used the first to take Hakeem Olajuwon, Portland selected Sam Bowie, just ahead of Michael Jordan. Bowie was often hurt and was out of the league soon, while Jordan went on to become the greatest ever. Then, in 2007, they had the first pick. Once again, they selected an injury-prone big man in Greg Oden, this time passing up on Kevin Durant to do so.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Bill WaltonCenter1974 – 1987
Arvydas SabonisCenter1981 – 2005
Brandon RoyShooting Guard2006 – 2011
Clyde DrexlerShooting Guard1983 – 1998
Terry PorterPoint Guard1985 – 2002

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings Logo

  • Arena: Golden 1 Center
  • Owner: Vivek Ranadivé
  • Founded/Joined: 1923/1948
  • Summary:

The Sacramento Kings were founded in 1923 and have been continuously operating ever since, making them one of the oldest basketball franchises in the nation. They started out as the Rochester Seagrams, a name they kept for 19 years before changing it to the Rochester Eber Seagrams. The new name only lasted one year, and in 1943, they became the Rochester Pros. In 1945, the name was once again altered, this time to the Rochester Royals, which they used until 1957.

In 1957, the franchise moved to Cincinnati, becoming the Cincinnati Royals. They stayed in Cinci until 1972, at which point the team moved to Kansas City. This was when they took on the “Kings” name, going by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings for three years before dropping the “Omaha.” Finally, in 1985, they moved to Sacramento and became the Sacramento Kings that you know and love today.

In 95 years of existence, the Kings have only won one championship. They won in 1951 and have not even won their conference to participate in the finals since that year. They came close in the early 2000s when the Rick Adelman-coached Kings teams made it to the Western Conference Finals. Led by Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, and others, Sacramento was easily the best team in the league in 2001-02.

Unfortunately, they met the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, and that’s where one of the NBA’s great travesties occurred. In Game 6, with the Kings needing only one win to advance, the refs clearly began working to extend the series. They started calling fouls on anything Sac did, giving LA 27 free throws in the fourth quarter alone. It’s one of the more egregious examples of crocked officiating ever seen in the NBA and a source of many conspiracy theories to this day.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Chris WebberPower Forward1993 – 2008
Mike BibbyPoint Guard1998 – 2012
Vlade DivacCenter1983 – 2005
Peja StojakovićSmall Forward1992 – 2011
Doug ChristieShooting Guard1992 – 2007

San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs Logo

  • Arena: AT&T Center
  • Owner: Spurs Sports & Entertainment
  • Founded/Joined: 1967/1976
  • Summary:

The San Antonio Spurs were founded in 1967 as one of the original ABA teams. When the merger happened in 1976, the Spurs were one of the four teams absorbed by the league. They’ve won five titles during their existence, making them the only former ABA team to ever win the NBA title.

All of the championships have come during the modern era, with Gregg Popovich coaching and Tim Duncan leading the team on the court. The Spurs were a good team in 1994-95, advancing to the Western Conference Finals, led by regular-season MVP David Robinson. That year, they were eliminated by the Rockets, but that tells you how talented they were. The very next year, Robinson was injured the entire year, first with back problems and then a broken foot. Sean Elliott missed half the season as well.

This resulted in a 20-62 record, bad enough to land them the top pick in the 1997 draft. It was the perfect opportunity to draft Tim Duncan. With their team returning healthy and the addition of the number-one draft pick, the Spurs were loaded in 1997-98. They improved to win 56 games but were eliminated by the Jazz in the playoffs.

The next season was delayed due to the lockout, but once things kicked into gear, San Antonio was dominant. In a 50-game season, they ended the regular season with a record of 37 and 13. In the playoffs, they hit another level, going 11-1 on their way through the Western Conference. It took them just five games to dispatch of the NY Knicks, giving the Spurs franchise their first title. Since that year, they’ve made a habit of it, winning another four in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
Tim DuncanPower Forward1997 – 2016
David RobinsonCenter1989 – 2003
George GervinShooting Guard/Small Forward1972 – 1990
Sean ElliottSmall Forward1989 – 2001
Artis GilmoreCenter1971 – 1989

Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz Logo

  • Arena: Vivint Smart Home Arena
  • Owner: Gail Miller
  • Founded/Joined: 1974
  • Summary:

The Utah Jazz were established in 1974 in the city of New Orleans. That’s why their name is the Jazz, a type of music with a strong association to New Orleans and almost nothing at all in common with the state of Utah. Regardless, in 1979, after just five years in existence, the Jazz moved to Utah and never changed the name. They’ve been in the same spot with the same name ever since.

Utah’s best teams came in the ‘90s when John Stockton and Karl Malone were their two stars. The power forward to point guard combination created a deadly pick and roll that was almost impossible to defend. In any other era, these two would have won a championship or two, but Michael Jordan wasn’t sharing in the ‘90s, and they could never knock off the Bulls in the finals.

The Jazz advanced to the finals in 1997 and 1998. One year, they lost the legendary flu game, and the other, they lost to the MJ floating jumper at the buzzer. Every time they met the Bulls in the finals, something happened just to rip their hearts out. In 2003 and 2004, their two star players retired, respectively. But it was soon after that when they built another contender, seemingly overnight.

Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer appeared to be the next tandem for the Jazz for another twenty years. Williams was in the conversation for the best point guard in the game, and Boozer was an incredibly useful power forward with an unblockable midrange jumper with a crazy high arc. Alas, it was not meant to be. After something happened between Deron Williams and the legendary Utah coach Jerry Sloan, the coach stepped down and retired. Williams was soon traded and was never the same player again.

All-Time Players:

NamePositionYears Active
John StocktonPoint Guard1984 – 2003
Karl MalonePower Forward1985 – 2004
Deron WilliamsPoint Guard2005 – Present
Carlos BoozerPower Forward2002 – 2017
Jeff HornacekSmall Forward1986 – 2000