NBA

NBA parity at an all-time high as five of eight remaining playoff teams have never won a championship

We don’t know who is going to win the 2021 NBA championship, but we do know it’s either going to be a team that hasn’t won a title in a while, or a team that’s yet to win one. Among the eight franchises left in the playoff picture, only three of them — the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks — have ever won a championship before. The other five teams — the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets — have never raised a title banner. A couple of the teams have also never even been to the Finals. 

So while some familiar franchises are missing from the postseason picture this season, other organizations are getting a chance to shine, which is cool, and probably good for the overall health of the league. With that said, here’s a quick look at the eight teams left in the NBA playoffs, and how long it’s been since their last title and/or Finals appearance. 

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Last NBA title: 1983 
  • Last Finals appearance: 2001

Of all the teams remaining, the Sixers have won a title most recently — all the way back in 1983. That Sixers squad, led by Julius Erving and Moses Malone, swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals to finish with a 12-1 playoff record. That remains the third-best single postseason record ever. Philadelphia has only made it back to the Finals once since then — in 2001, when the Allen Iverson-led Sixers lost to Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in five games. 

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Last NBA title: 1971 
  • Last Finals appearance: 1974

After the Sixers, the Bucks have won a title most recently out of all the remaining playoff teams. The Bucks won their lone title in 1971, when they swept the Baltimore Bullets in the Finals. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was named Finals MVP in that series after also winning the regular-season MVP award that same season. The Bucks made the Finals again in 1974, but they lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics. They haven’t been back since. 

Atlanta Hawks

  • Last NBA title: 1958 (as St. Louis Hawks) 
  • Last Finals appearance: 1961 (as St. Louis Hawks) 

The Hawks are the only other remaining team that has won a championship before. The Hawks’ lone title came all the way back in 1958 when they bested the Celtics in six games to claim the title. At that point, the team was located in St. Louis, as they were when they made the Finals again in 1960 and 1961. The Hawks have never been back to the Finals since moving to Atlanta in 1968. 

Brooklyn Nets

  • Last NBA title: N/A 
  • Last Finals appearance: 2003

The Nets won a pair of titles in the ABA, but they have been unable to do the same since the team joined the NBA in 1976. They came close a couple times, as they made back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, but fell short both times. The Lakers swept them in 2002, and the Spurs beat them in six games the following season. 

Utah Jazz

  • Last NBA title: N/A 
  • Last Finals appearance: 1998 

The Jazz made two consecutive Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998 when they were led by the dynamic duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton, but lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls both times. The closest they’ve come since was when they got to the Western Conference finals in 2007. They lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games in that series. 

Phoenix Suns

  • Last NBA title: N/A 
  • Last Finals appearance: 1993 

Phoenix has made it to the NBA Finals two times (1976, 1993), but lost both times. In 1976, they lost to the Celtics in six games, and in 1993 Jordan and the Bulls dispatched the Charles Barkley-led Suns squad in six. The Suns made it back to the Western Conference finals three times since then (2005, 2006, 2010), but fell short of advancing each time. 

Denver Nuggets

  • Last NBA title: N/A 
  • Last Finals appearance: N/A

The Nuggets have never won an NBA title, and they’ve actually never even made it out of the Western Conference. The furthest they ever made it was last season, when they lost the Lakers in five games in the conference finals. 

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Last NBA title: N/A 
  • Last Finals Appearance: N/A 

Not only have the Clippers never been to the NBA Finals, they’ve never even been to the Western Conference finals. They have reached the second round of the postseason on six separate occasions, but their run has ended there each and every time. 



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