With little over a month to go until the NBA Finals, basketball fans of franchises good enough to be involved in the postseason action are busy daydreaming of their team lifting the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy and frantically refreshing these odds.
To those fans of defeated teams or sleeping giants who have missed out on the playoffs, the inquests and hand-wringing have started in earnest. One crumb of comfort that many fans fall back on is the size and reputation of their team- ‘yes we may have missed out on the playoffs but we’re the biggest name in basketball’
It’s something that could well come from the mouth of fans of a dozen or so NBA teams, so who’s right? Who really are the biggest name in basketball? Read on to find out the top three…
Last Championship: 1998
Famous Players: Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen
If we were doing this list based purely on achievements, the Golden State Warriors would be in third place instead, but being a big name in basketball isn’t just about the trophies in your cabinet, it’s about the impact that your team and its players has had on the sport.
Like it or not, fans of rival franchises have to admit that no team has done as much for the growth of basketball around the world than the Chicago Bulls. During the 1990s under the management of Phil Jackson the Bulls won two three-peats.
There were a myriad of reasons behind the success of the team during that decade but one of the biggest factors was the performances of perhaps the most famous man in global sport, Michael Jordan.
(The epic performances of Michael Jordan helped the Chicago Bulls write their name in the history books during the 1990s.)
Los Angeles Lakers
Last Championship: 2020
Famous Players: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kobe Bryant
The list of famous players to have worn the Lakers jersey down the decades is too long to mention here. With 17 NBA Championships to their name, the Lakers are tied with the Boston Celtics as the most successful team in the history of the NBA.
The franchise can trace its roots back to 1947 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen bought the recently disbanded Detroit Gems and moved the franchise to Minneapolis, choosing the nickname ‘Lakers’ in homage to Minnesota’s many lakes.
The franchise moved to LA in 1960 and, in its new home, has cemented its status as one of the most iconic teams in basketball. With their participation in the NBA Finals all but guaranteed at the time of writing, the Lakers seem the obvious team to back in the NBA betting this year which, after the striking down of the Public Gaming Act, you can bet on from your phone or tablet.
(The Lakers last NBA Championship came in 2020 under bizarre conditions)
Last Championship: 2008
Famous Players: John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Bill Russell
Critics of the Boston Celtics and rival fans like to bring up the fact that the Celtics haven’t won an NBA Championship since 2008. Celtics fans should find some solace in the fact that there are 17 Championship trophies in their franchises’ trophy cabinet though.
The most dominant period in the Celtic’s history came in the late 1950s and 1960s, a period in which the franchise won an historic 11 NBA Championships, 8 of which were consecutive. Whilst the Celtics haven’t been as successful since that period, they are still tied with the Lakers for most NBA Championship wins.
What makes them bigger than the Lakers though is their global appeal. The Celtics are a sporting brand with a devoted fan base in Europe, Asia and South America.
(Bill Russell, perhaps the most iconic player in Celtics history.)
Being the biggest name in basketball is about more than trophies in the cabinet (although that certainly helps), it’s about what the franchise means to basketball and how it has helped the sport grow.
The Chicago Bulls with the star appeal of Michael Jordan are perhaps the best example of how a big franchise can promote the sport and inspire a generation of new fans to fall in love with basketball.
The combination of on-court success and global appeal that the Boston Celtics have, is what has helped them into Number One on our list.