Winning the most NBA Championships is the career goal of many NBA general managers. Every team’s ultimate goal in each basketball season is to win an NBA title. Of course, the dream is more realistic for some teams than others. That’s why only a handful of players have gotten their hands on the Larry O’Brien trophy.
What are the numbers we’re talking about here? Well, did you know that only 11.36% of all players who ever stepped foot on an NBA floor have won a championship? That’s roughly one of every 10! Some may argue that the figure is closer to 1 in 9, but the point is not everyone gets to achieve their goal.
Since an NBA championship is a difficult destination, it makes sense to ask, “Who has the most NBA championships in NBA history? The only way to answer that is to provide a list of NBA teams and players and take it from there.
Teams With The Most NBA Championships
The NBA has been around for 76 seasons, but only 19 franchises have won the championship. What’s more, two teams combine for 34 of these titles! Who has the most NBA championships? You’re about to find out.
Boston Celtics (17)
The Celtics dominated the NBA in its early years. The Celtics dynasty won a total of 17 championships, 11 of those from 1957 to 1969, in which the only years they fell short were 1958 and 1967. Boston won two more in the 70s, three in the 80s, and one in 2008 to complete the collection.
Let by GM Red Auerbach, a Celtics’ win was typically signified by Red lighting up a cigar when the game was under control. Bill Russell was the all-star who led the team to 11 NBA Championship titles, the last two as player/coach. Larry Bird led the team to three titles In the 1980s.
Los Angeles Lakers (17)
The Lakers are tied with the Celtics with 17 championships. They are No. 2 on this list because the Celtics got to banner 17 first. The team dominated the NBA’s founding years and won it all in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954 when it was still based in Minneapolis. After relocating to the Lakers, they won one title in the 70s, five in the 80s, five in the 2000s, and recently in 2020.
Head coach Phil Jackson brought home the NBA titles in the 2000s, while Pat Riley guided the successful ship in the 1980s. The LA Lakers Showtime offense is still remembered fondly by many fans. Showtime featured Magic Johnson as the point guard.
The team was known as the Minneapolis Lakers prior to 1960, and the coach was John Kundla, who won four NBA titles.
Golden State Warriors (7)
Thanks to the 2022 championship, the Warriors are in sole possession of the third place in this list. The franchise won one title in 1947 as the Philadelphia Warriors and another in 1956 after relocating to San Francisco. It was renamed in 1971 as “Golden State” and won the chip four years later.
The Stephen Curry era in recent years added four more to the Warriors’ trophy case. Curry will go down as the best shooter in NBA history.
You might enjoy slang and lingo for hoops.
Chicago Bulls (6)
Boston and Los Angeles were nowhere to be found in the 90s because of the Chicago Bulls.
Michael Jordan led the Bulls to win six titles in the 90s (1991-93 and 1996-98). Sadly, they never replicated that success. Jordan is widely recognized as the best player to ever play the game. After watching some of “His Airness’s” highlights, supporting that assessment is easy.
San Antonio Spurs (5)
Like the Bulls, the Spurs’ success was mainly tied to the brilliance of one man, Tim Duncan. They won in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. Duncan never missed the playoffs in 16 seasons and got five rings to show for it.
“The Big Fundamental” did many things right on the basketball court, and the results were usually victories for the Spurs.
Miami Heat (3)
Miami won its first championship in 2006 thanks to Dwyane Wade’s performance and Shaquille O’Neal’s presence. Then, the Big 3 of Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh happened, resulting in two more titles.
Philadelphia 76ers (3)
Then known as the Syracuse Nationals, the franchise won its first championship in 1955. After relocating to Philadelphia and renamed the 76ers, they won again in 1967 with Wilt Chamberlain in tow. Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Moses Malone were the faces of the Sixers during its title reign in 1983.
Detroit Pistons (3)
Interestingly, all three Pistons’ championship teams were composed of hard-nosed defenders. The Bad Boys were one of a handful to repeat as champs in 1989 and 1990. Fourteen years later, the Pistons’ suffocating defense smothered the Lakers in 2004, completing one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history.
Milwaukee Bucks (2)
What’s the similarity between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? They both led the Bucks to the promised land. Kareem won it with Oscar Robertson in 1971, and Giannis did it in 2021. Both big guys were also named the Finals MVP.
Jabbar went on to star with the LA Lakers and Magic’s Showtime offense.
Houston Rockets (2)
The Rockets were the lowest seed to become an NBA champion. The 1994-95 team was only the sixth seed until they made one hell of a run to defend their title. Hakeem Olajuwon was the Finals MVP on both occasions.
A natural athlete, Olajuwon didn’t start playing hoops until he was 15. His interior moves with the basketball are still shown to aspiring greats.
New York Knicks (2)
It has been a long time since the Knicks did something noteworthy in the NBA, but they were a good team in the 1970s. Led by the great Red Holzman, New York won two championships, one in 1970 and another in 1973. What’s interesting about their runs as both were against the Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers. If not for the Knicks, these two greats would have two more rings in their jewelry set. Instead, West only got one and Wilt two!
In the 1970 Finals, Willis Reed inspired his team when he hobbled back to the floor. The Knicks went on to beat the Lakers for the title.
Nine teams have one NBA Championship title
Teams with one NBA title include:
1.) Toronto Raptors (2019)
2.) Cleveland Cavaliers (2016)
3.) Dallas Mavericks (2011)
4.) Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder (1979)
5.) Baltimore/WashingtonBullets/Washington Wizards (1978)
6.) Portland Trail Blazers (1977)
7.) St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks (1958)
8.) Rochester/Cincinnati Royals/Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (1951)
9.) Baltimore Bullets (1948 – later folded)
The Celtics-Lakers Rivalry
They say conflict creates stories, and nothing could be more accurate in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. As mentioned, the two storied franchises combined for 34 of the 76 won championships. They also met in the NBA Finals a record 12 times, with the Celtics winning nine of these series.
Although the Lakers (then in Minneapolis) started a championship run in the early 50s, the Celtics monopolized the rings in the 60s. In the decade, the Lakers (now in Los Angeles) were the Celtics’ Finals matchup six times; Boston prevailed in all six!
Because of their intertwined fates in the NBA Finals, animosity was building between the two franchises. There was also an East Coast vs. West Coast factor in this story.
The rivalry cooled down in the 70s, but the arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the 80s lit the embers aflame again. Celtics-Lakers was the headline of the decade. They faced each other in the Finals three times, with the Purple and Gold edging the Green by 2-1.
Michael Jordan’s emergence brought another lull to the rivalry in the 90s. The Lakers strung three championships from 2000-02, while the Celtics wallowed in mediocrity.
In 2008, the Celtics again ruled the NBA after embarrassing the Lakers on their home floor, ending that year’s Finals series in six games. Two years later, the Lakers got their revenge. Led by Kobe Bryant, LA overcame a 2-3 deficit to secure the victory in Game 7.
The Lakers and Celtics Top Ten Rivalry Moments Video
Who has the most NBA rings?
The legacy of NBA players is often measured by the most NBA championship rings they win. What player has the most NBA championships?
It’s not for sure a ticket to the hall of fame, but more likely than not, you’ll be getting that call.
The most NBA championships player list is below.
- Bill Russell – Boston Celtics (11)
- Sam Jones – Boston Celtics (10)
- Satch Sanders – Boston Celtics (8)
- KC Jones – Boston Celtics (8)
- John Havlicek – Boston Celtics (8)
- Tom Heinsohn – Boston Celtics (8)
- Jim Loscutoff – Boston Celtics (7)
- Robert Horry – Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs (7)
- Frank Ramsey – Boston Celtics (7)
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Milwaukee Bucks and LA Lakers (6)
- Michael Jordan – Chicago Bulls (6)
- Scottie Pippen – Chicago Bulls (6)
- Bob Cousy – Boston Celtics (6)
- George Mikan – Minneapolis Lakers (5)
- Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers (5)
- Jim Pollard – Minneapolis Lakers (5)
- Don Nelson – Boston Celtics (5)
- Slater Martin – Minneapolis Lakers (5)
- Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers (5)
- Michael Cooper – Los Angeles Lakers (5)
- Larry Siegfried – Boston Celtics (5)
- Ron Harper – Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers (5)
- Dennis Rodman – Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls(5)
- Steve Kerr – Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs (5)
- Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs (5)
- Derek Fisher – Los Angeles Lakers (5)
- Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors (4)
- Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors (4)
- Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors (4)
- Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors (4)
- LeBron James – Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers (4)
- Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs (4)
- Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat (4)
- Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs (4)
- Horace Grant – Chicago Bulls (4)
- John Salley – Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers (4)
- Will Perdue – Chicago Bulls (4)
- Robert Parish – Boston Celtics (4)
- Jamaal Wilkes – Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors (4)
- Kurt Rambis – Los Angeles Lakers (4)
- Bill Sharman – Boston Celtics (4)
- Gene Guarilia – Boston Celtics (4)
- Frank Saul – Rochester Royals and Minneapolis Lakers (4)
- Vern Mikkelsen – Minneapolis Lakers (4)
Other notables: Larry Bird (3)
What Team Won the Most ABA Titles?
The Indiana Pacers won three ABA Championship titles to lead all teams. In second place was the New York Nets, with two titles.
By year, here is the ABA team champ.
1968 – Pittsburgh Pipers
1969 – Oakland Oaks
1970 – Indiana Pacers
1971 – Utah Stars
1972 – Indiana Pacers
1973 – Indiana Pacers
1974 – New York Nets
1975 – Kentucky Colonels
1976 – New York Nets
Only the Denver Nuggets and the New Orlean Buccaneers didn’t win an ABA title.
Final Thoughts: Who Has The Most NBA Championships?
Basing the greatness of players on championships has always been a touchy subject. Several all-time greats fell short over their careers. Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing are the few that come to mind. Even the “Logo” Jerry West only had one championship ring and lost in eight Finals series!
Measuring NBA championships on teams, though, is another story. It shows that the franchise is dedicated, makes shrewd decisions, and is willing to spend resources for success.
With this in mind, who has the most NBA championships? The teams with the most NBA championships are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, with 17 apiece. As for the players, that distinction goes to Bill Russell. The late Celtics legend won a championship in 11 of the 13 seasons he played.
By Jan Rey with Mike O’Halloran
Jan is a sucker for all things basketball and still yells, “Kobe!” every time he tosses a crumpled paper into a trash bin. Mike has written three books on youth basketball coaching.
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