To rank the greatest NBA teams of all time, we had to get a few things straight. What is important in basketball? Winning championships! How many rings can you wear on your fingers?
This list will focus on winning championships and being one of the greatest teams ever. Below are the 10 greatest NBA teams of all time:
10. 2012-2013 Miami heat | Record 66-16
At number 10 of the greatest NBA teams, we start with the 2012-2013 Miami Heat. They came into the season as the reigning NBA Champions, back-to-back Eastern Conference champions, and the third season of the “Big Three” playing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Led by the MVP LeBron James, they went on a 27-game winning streak at the time second-best of all time finishing the regular season with a 66-16 record. LeBron was voted back-to-back MVP averaging 26.8 PPG, 8 RPG, and 7.3 APG
Alongside the “Big Three”, the team was full of talent, signing in the off-season all-time great shooter Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis with important role players such as Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and James Jones.
In Eastern Conference Finals, they defeated the Indiana Pacers in game 7 to become the first team since Chicago Bulls in 1998 to Three-peat as Eastern Conference Champions.
The Miami Heat then defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals in 7 games becoming back-to-back champions. A most memorable moment was in Game 6 with Ray Allen hitting the 3-point with 5.2 seconds to go to force overtime, where Heat was able to win and take the series to a decisive game.
9. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers | Record 69-13
This was the first Lakers championship won since moving to Los Angeles in 1960 from Minneapolis. After repeatedly failing to clinch the NBA title in the 60s, losing to Boston Celtics 6 times, they were finally able to win it in the 1971-72 season led by Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, and Jerry “The Logo” West.
Entering the season, many experts thought that the Lakers don’t stand a chance winning the NBA championship due to the stars were all in their 30s and missed most of the games due to injuries in the prior 2 seasons and the rising dynasty of the Milwaukee Bucks with the young superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Oh, they were wrong!
The Lakers went on a 33 games winning streak (longest winning streak ever) and were the top seed in the West, finishing the regular season with a 69-13 record.
In the NBA Finals, they clinched the NBA title by beating the New York Knicks 4-1 with Wilt Chamberlain winning the Finals MVP, averaging 19.4 PPG and 23.22 RPG!
8. 1988-89 Detroit Pistons | Record 63-19
This team is known for being the greatest Pistons squad ever. They brought the first title to Detroit by playing a physical, defense-oriented style of play, which eventually earned them the nickname “Bad Boys”.
Led by Chuck Daily on the bench, Pistons finished the regular season as the top seed with a 63-19 record.
Besides their physical game, the key to their success was in squad depth. Each player was putting the team’s success before himself. Players such as Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, each of them mastered their roles within the team.
I’m not going to talk about this championship team without mentioning Dennis Rodman who led the league in rebounding at 19 boards per game!
Despite being considered outsiders in the Finals against the back-to-back champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, The Pistons swept them in the series, becoming the new NBA champions!
7. 1985-86 Boston Celtics | Record 67-15
Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, Scott Wedman… 1985-86 Boston Celtics were stacked with great players and for reason considered as one of the best teams ever!
Led by Larry Bird, they went on a 67-15, having the best record and clinching the top seed in the regular season.
Widely considered his best season ever, Bird went on to win his second MVP award, averaging 25.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 6.8 APG, and 2 SPG.
They’ve set up the best home record in the NBA history with 40-1 which was later matched only by the San Antonio Spurs in 2016.
In the Playoffs, they swept Jordan’s Bulls in the First Round, eliminated Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Semi-Finals, and swept the Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals.
They got slightly more resistance from Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals, however, they ended up beating them 4-2, clinching their third title in a decade and 16th in the franchise history!
6. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls | Record: 67-15
Entering the season as the Leagues MVP and NBA Champion, Michael Jordan had only one goal on mind – going on back-to-back and establishing a new dynasty!
They finished the season with 67-15 record, topping the franchise record from the 1990–91 campaign, entering the Playoffs as 1st seed on the East.
Michale Jordan finished the season winning his consecutive MVP award, 3rd overall, averaging 30.1 PPG, 6.4 RBG, and 6.1 APG. In the Playoffs, MJ raised the bar even higher, averaging 34.5 PPG in 22 games.
They ended up beating the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Finals in six games and warning the league that the best is yet to come!
5. 2000-01 Los angeles lakers | Record 56-26
The third team on the list was led by the great Phil Jackson on the bench. The Los Angeles Lakers entered the season as the defending champion, previously clinched the title by beating Reggie Miller and Indiana Pacers in the Finals, 4-2.
With the reigning MVP and most dominant force at the time, Shaquille O’Neal, and young Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were on a mission, winning back-to-back championships!
Due to injuries and a slower start, they’ve finished 2nd in the Western Conference with a 56-26 record, behind the San Antonio Spurs.
However, the most impressive thing about them is how dominant they were in the Playoffs, sweeping the West and losing just one game to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Finals, finishing the Playoffs with a 15-1 record.
It was the best postseason in the NBA ever at the time, which was suppressed by the Golden State Warriors in 2017. Shaquille O’Neal won his second Finals MVP averaging 33 PPG, 15.8 RPG, and 4.8 APG
4. 1996-97 Chicago bulls | Record 69-13
Coming off the greatest season in NBA history, the Bulls were entering a new season as defending champions.
The Bulls got off to a fast start, winning their first twelve games while posting a 42-6 record before the All-Star break. Led by Michael Jordan, who averaged 29.6 PPG throughout the season, and with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Toni Kukoc, the Bulls were a dominant presence on both sides of the court.
Michael Jordan finished the season as the league’s top scorer, Dennis Rodman was the rebounding champion averaging 16.1 RPG and both Jordan and Scottie Pippen were selected in the All-NBA Defensive Team.
They’ve finished the season with an impressive 69-13 record, clinching to top seed in the East and entering the Playoffs as the main favorites.
In one of the best NBA Finals series, they’ve beaten Utah Jazz 4-2 which was led by the dynamic duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone, clinching their 5th title in 7 years! One of the most memorable games was Game 5, known as “The Flu Game”. A flu-stricken Michale Jordan, led the Bulls to a win, scoring 38 points with “almost passing out just to win a basketball game” as he said.
3. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers | Record 65-17
The peak of the Showtime Lakers led by the great Pat Riley on the bench. Magic’s flashy passes and Kareem’s scoring abilities have propelled them to an exciting run-and-gun style of play.
Coming from the shocking defeat in the previous season to the Houston Rockets, the Lakers were on the verge of becoming the best team in the league and winning it all.
They’ve finished the season with a 65-17 record, with Magic winning his first MVP award, averaging 23.9 PPG and 12.2 APG.
In the Western Conference Playoffs, they defeated the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and Seattle Supersonics losing just one game.
The highlight of the season was in the NBA Finals where they defeated the defending NBA champions and their biggest rivals, the Boston Celtics in 6 games. This was the third and final NBA Finals in the 80s where the Lakers and Celtics faced each other.
Next to his regular season MVP, Magic added the Finals MVP with his fourth championship ring, averaging 26.2 PPG, 13 APG and 8 RPG!
2. 2016-17 golden state warriors | record 67-15
The Golden State Warriors were a dynasty on a rise, however, in the prior season, they become the only team in NBA history that blew a 3-1 lead, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games.
Next to reigning back-to-back MVP and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, they’ve become more dangerous by adding the superstar caliber Kevin Durant in the off-season.
They were named “Fantastic Four” for obvious reasons becoming the clear favorites to reclaim the Larry O’Brien trophy.
They’ve finished the regular season with a 65-17 record, entering the playoffs as the first seed, breaking 20 NBA records on their way.
Draymond Green won the Defensive Player of the Year, the first time a Warrior has won it.
What’s more impressive is their run in the Playoffs! They’ve set up the record for the best postseason ever, starting with a 15-0 and finishing it with a 16-1 record. In the NBA Finals, they matched a third time in a row LeBron’s Cavaliers and ended up beating them 4-1 with Kevin Durant winning his first NBA title and NBA Finals MVP averaging 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 BPG, and 1 SPG!
1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls | Record 72-10
“45 is not 23”! Following the tragic death of his father, Michael Jordan returned from retirement the previous season with a new number on his jersey, No. 45. In the 1995 Playoffs, the Chicago Bulls reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals, falling short against the Orlando Magic.
At the beginning of the new season, Jordan decided to switch back to No. 23 to acknowledge that he is back and boy, he was back indeed, leading the greatest NBA Team of all time!
He led the Bulls to the best NBA season record of all time at the time, with 72 wins and only 10 losses! They were incredible on both ends of the court, with Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen being named to the NBA All-Defensive Team and Jordan and Pippen being named to the All-NBA First Team.
In the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they were an unstoppable force, sweeping the Miami Heat in the First Round, eliminating their rivals the New York Knicks 4-1, and getting revenge over the Orlando Magic by sweeping them 4-0.
In the NBA Finals, they matched the Seattle SuperSonics, whose 64-18 regular season record was overshadowed by the Bulls’ 72-10. The Bulls won their 4th NBA title by beating the Sonics in 6 game series, starting a new three-peat. And of course, the Finals MVP was non-other than Michael Jordan averaging 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.2 APG.
For reason, they are considered the greatest NBA team of all time!
List of the greatest NBA teams
|Team||Season Record||Playoff Record||NBA Finals|
|1.||95-96 Chicago Bulls||72-10||15-3||4-2 vs Seattle|
|2.||16-17 Golden State Warriors||67-15||16-1||4-1 vs Cleveland|
|3.||86-87 Los Angeles Lakers||65-17||15-3||4-2 vs Boston|
|4.||96-97 Chicago Bulls||69-13||15-4||4-2 vs Utah|
|5.||00-01 Los Angeles Lakers||56-26||15-1||4-1 vs 76ers|
|6.||91-92 Chicago Bulls||67-15||15–7||4-2 vs Portland|
|7.||85-86 Boston Celtics||67-15||15-3||4-2 vs Houston|
|8.||88-89 Detroit Pistons||63-19||15-2||4-0 vs Lakers|
|9.||71-72 Los Angeles Lakers||69-13||12-3||4-1 vs New York|
|10.||12-13 Miami Heat||66-16||16-7||4-3 vs Spurs|
We hope you enjoyed reading about our greatest NBA teams ever. You can find more articles like this one by checking out other posts on the blog!
What do you think of this greatest NBA teams list? What are your thoughts on the greatest squads throughout history for this league? Let us know in the comments below.
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