What Team Holds the Record for Most Consecutive NBA Titles?
For NBA players and fans alike, winning a championship is a dream come true. If one title is good, though, winning two back-to-back is even better. Then comes the rarified air of three-peats and, in rare circumstances, for or more consecutive successes.
So whether winning rings is the norm for your favorite franchise or it’s been quite a while since you reached the metaphorical top of the mountain, everyone is hoping to see their team rattle off multiple successful seasons in a row.
With that in mind, let’s consider which team holds the record for the most consecutive NBA titles.
2 franchises have claimed a good portion of the available NBA titles
One of the theoretical appeals of North American sports is that things tend to move in cycles. While some franchises have suffered through more than their share of misfortune, draft lotteries, salary caps, and other mechanisms usually mean that everyone will eventually get their day in the sun. When you look at NBA history, though, two franchises have won more than their share of titles.
If you’re a long-time basketball fan, you’ll know about the famous rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. While there was something of an East vs. West element to that match-up, it also became a key part of the NBA landscape because both teams were good.
Both the Lakers and the Celtics have 17 championships to their name. While the scale of that achievement is apparent, consider this for context. Those two (admittedly successful) franchises have claimed a shade under 45% of the available NBA titles.
And, if we’re talking about sheer volume, the closest competitor is the Golden State Warriors, with seven rings.
Talk about historical dominance.
The Boston Celtics set the gold standard for sustained excellence with 8-straight championships
Now that we’ve established that the Lakers and the Celtics have had more NBA titles than any other franchise, you’d probably expect one of those two franchises to hold the record for the most consecutive championships.
That assumption would be correct, thanks to Boston’s legendary success.
In 1959, the Celtics reclaimed the title they had lost the previous season, sweeping the Minneapolis Lakers. At that point, the hits kept on coming, and championships followed that in each of the next seven seasons. Boston claimed the top prize from the 1958-59 season through the 1965-66 campaign, giving them eight rings in a row.
And while we’re only concerned with consecutive titles in this article, the Celtics’ streak was part of an even larger run of success. Led by Hall of Famer Bill Russell, the Celtics’ run of titles was part of an incredible 11 championships in 13 seasons.
Boston won the title in 1957, but the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks won in 1958. Red Auerbach’s bunch then went on their unprecedented run until the Philadelphia 76ers broke the string in 1967. The Celtics then bounced back and won back-to-back championships in 1968 and 1969 before things truly came to an end.
It goes without saying that ratting off eight uninterrupted titles is an incredible feat, but again, it sounds even more impressive when placed in a larger context.
The most championships won in succession in any other North American sport is five. The New York Yankees took five straight World Series crowns from 1949–53, and the Montreal Canadiens raised the Stanley Cup every year from 1956–60. The National Football League’s high-water mark is three in a row, last accomplished by the Green Bay Packers from 1965–67. An asterisk goes to the Cleveland Browns, who won all four All-American Football Conference championships from 1946–49 and then took the NFL crown in 1950.
But no franchise, asterisk or not, can touch the Celtics.
Several franchises have won consecutive NBA titles, though
While the Celtics hold the top spot on the consecutive championships list, they’re not the only franchise to accomplish the feat.
The first consecutive championships recognized by the NBA went to the Minneapolis Lakers, who won the BAA crown in 1949 and the NBA title in 1950. The rest of the team to at least go back-to-back include:
- Minneapolis Lakers (1952–54)
- Boston Celtics (1959–66)
- Boston Celtics (1968–69)
- Los Angeles Lakers (1987–88)
- Detroit Pistons (1989–90)
- Chicago Bulls (1991–93)
- Houston Rockets (1994–95)
- Chicago Bulls (1996–98)
- Los Angeles Lakers (2000–02)
- Los Angeles Lakers (2009–10)
- Miami Heat (2012–13)
- Golden State Warriors (2017–18)
So, while there have been multiple back-to-back champions and even a handful of three-peats, no franchise has gotten even halfway to what the Boston Celtics accomplished in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. Even in the superteam era, it’s hard to imagine that record ever falling.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference