Eight of the Top Teams in NBA History
Fans like to talk about their favorite teams — especially if their teams are highly successful teams. The ultimate sign of a successful team is one that has won multiple championships, either in consecutive years or during a particular era. Those teams are known as “dynasties” because they dominate the league during a certain period.
1964–1965 Boston Celtics
Bill Russell, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Tom Sanders, and Tom Heinsohn led the Celtics to a 62-18 record. Boston broke its own league record for most victories in a season and went on to win the Celtics's seventh consecutive NBA championship. And it was only the beginning. Boston went up against the Philadelphia 76ers in an unforgettable Eastern Conference Finals, winning Game 7 110-109. John's deflection at the end of the game produced the famous broadcasting call, “Havlicek stole the ball!” The Celtics went on to defeat the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the 1965 NBA Finals.
1966–1967 Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers went 68-13, led by Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, and Billy Cunningham. Philadelphia started the season 46-4 and went on to set a record for most victories in a season (though that mark was eclipsed by the 1971–1972 Los Angeles Lakers). This memorable season also put an end to Boston's run of eight consecutive championships. The 76ers slammed the Celtics 4-1 in the Eastern conference finals before going on to down the San Francisco Warriors 4-2 in the 1967 NBA finals.
1969–1970 New York Knicks
With a record of 60-22, this team had a lot of talent for the ages. Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dick Barnett, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, and Cazzie Russell starred for one of the best passing teams in NBA history. This group of Knicks claimed New York's first NBA championship by defeating Los Angeles 4-3 in the memorable 1970 NBA finals. Team leader Willis, who had missed Game 6 because of a leg injury, literally limped onto the Madison Square Garden floor before Game 7 and scored New York's first two baskets to inspire the Knicks to a 113-99 victory.
WORDS TO KNOW
Consecutive simply means in a row or without interruption. So if you won 10 straight games, you won 10 consecutive games.
A best-of-seven series means the first team to win four games is declared winner of the series. While that can happen in as few as four games, the series can't go longer than seven games. Even if the teams are tied at 3 wins apiece after 6 games, the team who wins the next game will advance.
1971–1972 Los Angeles Lakers
Finishing the regular season with a record of 69-13, Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Chamberlain, Jim McMillian, and Happy Hairston combined to bring the Lakers their first championship since relocating from Minnesota to Los Angeles. The Lakers broke Philadelphia's 1966–1967 record for wins in a season (which would later be broken by Chicago in 1995– 1996). The Lakers also won 33 consecutive games during the regular season for a record that still stands. The Lakers also won an NBA record 16 consecutive road games and have the best road-win percentage in NBA history (.816; 31-7). The Lakers easily outplayed New York in the finals, winning 4-1.
1982–1983 Philadelphia 76ers
A memorable group of uniquely talented players inspired Philadelphia to a 65-17 season, as Moses Malone joined the 76ers as a free agent and teamed up with Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, and Bobby Jones to bring Philadelphia its first NBA championship in 16 seasons. Moses famously proclaimed that the 76ers would sweep through each round of the playoffs in four games, the minimum number of wins needed to advance in a best-of-seven series. He wasn't far off. Philadelphia needed a fifth game to advance to the finals over the Eastern conference runners up, the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers cruised to victory against the Lakers in four games in the first round of the playoffs and dispatched the Knicks in four games in the finals. They posted the best winning percentage in NBA playoff history at .923 (12-1).
WORDS TO KNOW
You can figure a team's winning percentage by dividing the number of games won by the number of games played. So if your team played four games and won three, you divide 3 by 4 and get a winning percentage of .75.
1985–1986 Boston Celtics
Stung by a 4-2 loss to the Lakers in the 1985 finals, Larry Bird led the Celtics to a 67-15 record with a team that featured Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, and a rejuvenated Bill Walton. The team earned the best record in franchise history and a 4-2 defeat of Houston in the 1986 finals. The Celtics had a 40-1 record at home, the best home-winning percentage (.976) in NBA history.
1986–1987 Los Angeles Lakers
During this 65-17 season, the Lakers reascended the NBA throne thanks to the high-flying fast-break style of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, and Michael Cooper. Magic averaged a career-best 23.9 points per game and led the league in assists with a 12.2 average. The Lakers defeated Boston 4-2 in the 1987 finals after winning 11 of their first 12 games in the playoffs.
WORDS TO KNOW
A sideline triangle is formed by the center in the low post, the forward standing on a wing, and a guard in one corner. The other guard is at the top of the key and the remaining forward in the high post, creating a two-man game. The spacing allows for passing, though the defense's reaction ultimately dictates what the offense does.
1988–1989 Detroit Pistons
These 63-19 bad boys went out swinging — win or lose. Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Vinnie Johnson, and Dennis Rodman combined to form the heart of one of the strongest defensive teams in the modern era. Even though they did not have a commanding center, the Pistons featured a potent three-guard rotation and a deep bench that rebounded and defended relentlessly. Detroit went 15-2 in the 1989 playoffs, including a 4-0 sweep of the Lakers in the 1989 finals.