Which States Have Never Had an NBA Basketball Team?

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the U.S., as chronicled by the huge fan base and the anticipation that fans have before the commencement of a new season in mid-October. The exciting 82-game NBA league serves B-ball enthusiasts an opportunity to see some of the hottest NBA superstars, such as Stephen Curry and LeBron James. 

Only 30 teams play in the top-flight basketball league, and it’s pretty evident that some states aren’t represented because they have never had an NBA team. Other teams relocated to other states, leaving their home state without any team. This article offers insights into state representation in the NBA and why a team in Canada plays in the NBA.

States that have National Basketball Association teams

NBA logo seen during a 2022 NBA Playoffs game between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers
NBA logo | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

According to 1Key Data, 22 states in the United States have at least one NBA team. They include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C.*.

California dominates the list with four teams in the NBA, including the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, LA Lakers, and Sacramento Kings. Texas follows closely with three teams: the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. Florida and New York come in at No. 3 with two teams each. The former boasts the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, while New York has the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. 

That means that 17 states have one team in the NBA, bringing the total number of U.S. teams to 28. The Toronto Raptors play in the NBA despite being based outside the United States. Together with the Vancouver Grizzlies (which moved to Memphis in 2001), the Toronto Raptors were the two teams outside the country that completed the NBA. 

Which states in the U.S. don’t have an NBA team?

Only 21 states boast at least one professional basketball team. That leaves 29 states unrepresented in the NBA. Team distribution in the national basketball association hasn’t been even because states like California and Florida have more than two basketball teams with the highest payrolls. Yet, other states are only left to celebrate teams from other states. 

As noted on Open Court Basketball, the states without zero NBA teams include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

Despite the disparity in state representation, the sport remains hugely popular across the U.S. It’s played in the states with no NBA teams, only that they don’t have an elite team in the National Basketball Association, only college and amateur basketball leagues. It’s not uncommon to see fans from states with no team traveling across their borders to watch a game. 

The exception of Washington D.C. and relocated teams

The Washington Wizards from Washington DC are often mentioned when listing NBA teams, despite D.C. not being a state. Basketball Noise also identified the Toronto Raptors – based in Canada – as another team outside the U.S that plays in the NBA. Therefore, the two can’t have a state attributed to them.  

Additionally, other states and regions that had NBA representation were left without teams following the relocation of their teams to other states. For instance, the Vancouver Grizzlies represented Canada until 2001, when they moved to Memphis for various reasons. Poor on-court performances and less-than-ideal attendance figures ultimately did the team in.

Bleacher Report has been monitoring potential relocations by NBA teams as catalyzed by the development of modern basketball arenas in cities/states with no NBA teams. Kansas City, Missouri, once home to the Kansas City Kings (now in Sacramento), Seattle, Washington, once home to the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder), and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, once home to the ABA’s Pittsburgh Pistons, have positioned themselves as potential homes for elite NBA teams, having built exceptional stadiums and hosted major tournaments, such as the Big 12 and NCAA.

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