The 2023-24 NBA Season Could Include a Feat Seen Just Once in League History
The NBA has certainly seen its fair share of dynasties over the years.
The first was the Minneapolis Lakers, who won five titles in six years from 1949 to 1954. Next was the Boston Celtics, who won 11 championships in 13 seasons from 1957 to 1969, including an absurd eight in a row from 1959 to 1966.
The 1970s brought a bit more parity, but in the 1980s, the Lakers (five) and Celtics (three) combined to win eight titles.
The 1990s, of course, were dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who won six titles in eight years.
The turn of the century saw yet another Lakers run as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant helped LA to the franchise’s second three-peat. The year following said three-peat, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs won their second title in five years and won three more in the next 11 years.
The year after the Spurs won their fifth title in 2014, the Golden State Warriors took over, winning three of the following four NBA Finals. Stephen Curry & Co. added another championship in 2022.
That 2019 title, however, is part of a new trend in the NBA, that being one of parity. And if that same trend continues into the 2023-24 campaign, the league will experience something that’s happened just once in its first 77 years.
The NBA has had six different champions in a six-season stretch only once
Over the past five NBA seasons, we’ve seen five different franchises take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
In 2019, it was the Toronto Raptors, who took advantage of the Kawhi Leonard rental and knocked off the Warriors in six games.
The following year, of course, LeBron James won his fourth championship as he and Anthony Davis led the Lakers to a title in the Orlando bubble, beating Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in six.
In 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first championship in half a century, defeating the Phoenix Suns.
As mentioned, Golden State took the title in 2022, beating Boston in six, and the Denver Nuggets recently made it five teams in five years by vanquishing the Heat in five games.
Denver’s win marked the first time in more than 40 years that the NBA has had five different champions in five years. That stretch featured title wins by the Portland Trail Blazers (1977), Washington Bullets (1978), Seattle Supersonics (1979), LA Lakers (1980), and Boston Celtics (1981). The Lakers broke the streak in 1982, winning their second of five titles in the Magic Johnson era.
Along those same lines, the NBA has had six different champions in six seasons only once. And that includes most of the teams just mentioned. The only six-season stretch to feature six different champions began two years before that five-year run and included title wins by the Warriors (1975) and Celtics (1976). Boston broke that streak in ’81 with the first of Larry Bird’s three titles.
But we obviously now have a chance to see it again.
Now, that could prove difficult as the Nuggets could easily stop the streak by repeating. The Bucks, Lakers, and Warriors also have solid odds heading into the 2023-24 season. Sorry, Raptors fans, but a second title isn’t coming next June.
But we could easily see title No. 18 for the Celtics. The Phoenix Suns could also be right there come NBA Playoffs time as they’ve added Bradley Beal to form a new Big Three alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Durant’s health will undoubtedly play a factor there, of course, as he hasn’t played more than 55 games since his last year with the Warriors in 2018-19.
Perhaps the Heat could make another run. Maybe the Sixers can finally win their first title in four decades. Can the Clippers stay healthy? Could the Mavericks take the next step?
However it shakes out, the new and possibly historic NBA season can’t get here quickly enough.