NBA championships: a basketball oligarchy (or: why I hate the Lakers)
The first National Basketball Association title was won in 1947 by the Philadelphia Warriors over the Chicago Stags. In the following season, Philadelphia's repeat bid was ended in the Finals by the Baltimore Bullets.
Over the following 21 seasons from 1949-69, however, either the Lakers or Celtics franchises would go on to win 16 of the NBA titles at stake. That's more than 75 percent.
Today, with the Finals set to begin and the Lakers going for their 15th title (the ninth in Los Angeles), I looked up online a list of the NBA champions from each season. I knew the Celtics have won the most championships with 17, of course, with the Lakers in second. Combined the two franchises have now won 32 of 62 titles, just over half.
Let me reiterate: the Celtics and Lakers have won over half of the NBA titles. If there is any justice in sports (there isn't), neither of these teams would win another title ever again.
After Boston and LA, from watching through my lifetime I know the Bulls have 6, the Spurs have 4, the Pistons 3, as well as the Knicks and Rockets both with 2. But what about the rest?
One thing I particularly wondered was how many teams like my beloved Trail Blazers have won just a single title. As it happens, it's a pretty rare occurrence. Only three NBA teams that are still in their original cities - Portland, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat - have a single title. The Atlanta Hawks also won a title while located in St. Louis (1958), as did the now-defunct Rochester Royals (they became the Kansas City and then Sacramento Kings) in 1951 and the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979 (they're now the Oklahoma City Thunder).
And if you add the Bulls and Spurs to the Celtics and Lakers, those four teams have won 42 of 62 titles. That means four teams have won over two thirds of the rings.
Every sport has bullies with more money and bigger-city fan bases that horde titles. The New York Yankees are the biggest with 23 or 24 titles. In hockey there is the Montreal Canadiens, or there are Manchester United and Liverpool in English Premiere League soccer. College football has Notre Dame and USC.
But in none of those sports (except maybe the Premiereship) is there such a clog of a small oligarchy of teams winning the vast majority of the titles.
It makes me all the more happy that Portland managed to beat the odds and win the 1977 championship. And that a very promising championship window may be opening for the Blazers soon.
Oh, and in the spirit of tonight's game: go Magic!