The 5 Best NBA Franchises That No Longer Exist

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There is plenty more to a franchise's success than winning the NBA Championship...as these five teams have shown.

The NBA is the biggest basketball league in the world and currently consists of 30 teams, with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics boasting supporters that span the globe.

These franchises are among some of the richest and most powerful sports teams on the planet, but what about the ones that no longer exist?

Over the years, many NBA teams have either gone out of business or relocated to another city, but whatever the reason, there are some historic teams that are part of the sport’s history. We have taken a look at five of the best.

Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics spent 41 seasons in the NBA between 1967-2008, during which time they won six Divisional titles, three Conference titles and the NBA Championship itself in 1979, beating the Washington Bullets 4-1 in those Finals.

However, the SuperSonics began to struggle both on and off the court at the turn of the century, winning just one playoff series between 1998-2008, while financial issues meant the owners were forced to sell the franchise to an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett.

Bennet initially said he would not relocate the team to his home city, but after failing to find the funds to build a new arena, that’s exactly what he did, with the team leaving Seattle and being rebranded Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2008-09 season.

Minneapolis Lakers

Minneapolis Lakers only spent 12 seasons in the NBA between 1948-60, but they reached the playoffs in all but one of those campaigns and were crowned NBA champions five times, including landing three titles in a row during the mid 1950s.

George Mikan was the star of that team, but his permanent departure in 1956 led to a decline in results on the court, as well as financial issues and low crowds off it.

The decision was eventually made the relocate the team to Los Angeles ahead of the 1960-61 season and thus the Los Angeles Lakers were born.

The Lakes are the most successful team in NBA history, winning 17 championships (including the five they picked up in Minneapolis) while some of the greats of the game such as Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have all donned the teams’ colours.

Philadelphia Warriors

The only other relocated team to have won more than one NBA Championship are the Philadelphia Warriors, who lifted the top prize twice in 1947 and 1956.

The Warriors spent a total of 16 years in the NBA and had star players such as the aforementioned Chamberlain within their ranks.

However, Chamberlain and the rest of the team relocated to San Francisco in 1962 after the franchise was purchased by radio and television personality Franklin Mieuli.

The team only remained as the San Francisco Warriors for nine years before they were rebranded as the current Golden State Warriors to incorporate the whole of California. Golden State have since added four more championships to the two they won during their time in Philadelphia.

Baltimore Bullets

The only team on this list that did not relocate are the Baltimore Bullets, who spent seven years in the NBA between 1947-54, they are also the only fully defunct franchise to have won the NBA Championship, doing so in 1948.

The Bullets folded midway through the 1954-55 season with a 3-11 record and just two months after they traded NBA Rookie of the Year Ray Felix to the New York Knicks.

Another team known by the same name did compete in the NBA between 1963-73 after being relocated from Chicago, but that franchise soon moved on to Washington, D.C. as the current Washington Wizards.

Syracuse Nationals

The Syracuse Nationals were based in the state of New York and competed in the NBA for 14 seasons between 1949-63, reaching the playoffs on every single occasion and winning the Championship itself in 1955.

However, their 1963 playoff loss to the Cincinnati Royals proved their last, as at the end of that season owner Danny Biasone sold the franchise to investors Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman.

Kosloff and Richman relocated the team to Philadelphia, filling the void left by the Warriors’ departure the previous year, with a contest being held to decide the new franchise’s name, with the winner plumping for the 76ers, who can still be found in the NBA to this very day.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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