Longest Title Droughts in NBA History

Posted on 17 Jun, 2015, by in NBA

The Golden State Warriors won an NBA Championship after waiting 40 years. But there are even longer droughts between titles or since the last one for NBA franchises, among them the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks, leading a group of teams that are waiting for over a generation, or had to wait between trophy lifts, to taste an NBA championship.

Sacramento Kings – 64 Years and counting

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Once upon a time, the Kings were called the Rochester Royals. And they won a championship in 1951. Since then they’ve had many homes and many names, but they haven’t been to the NBA finals ever since. Their last conference finals were in 2002, losing the Los Angeles Lakers in a now infamous game 6, regarded as rigged by many.

Atlanta Hawks – 57 Years and counting

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The Hawks have one championship. In 1958. When they were still playing in St. Louis. They’ve reached the finals twice (in 1960 and 1961) after that success, but they haven’t been to the conference finals until this year, getting swept by the Cavaliers.

Milwaukee Bucks – 44 Years and counting

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson. Those were the guys who helped the Bucks win the franchise’s only NBA title in 1971. Since then? One NBA Finals in 1976, still with Abdul-Jabbar and a few more conference finals, the last of which in 1986.

New York Knicks – 42 Years and counting

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The Knicks have two NBA titles. In 1970 and 1973, during their short lived golden years. They’ve made the NBA finals twice since their latest trophy lift, losing in 1994 and 1999 to the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. Since 1999 they’ve been to the conference finals only once.

Golden State Warriors – 40 Years and counting

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Between Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes winning the NBA title in 1975 and Stephen Curry & Andre Iguodala winning a fourth championship for the franchise in 2015 there were 0 conference finals appearance and long stretches of not even making the playoffs.

Portland Trail Blazers – 38 Years and counting

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With Bill Walton, the Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977. The franchise reached the NBA finals twice more; in 1990 and 1992, during the Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter years. In 1999 and 2000 they went to the conference finals back to back, including a famous game 7 collapse against the Lakers in 2000, opening the door for that 3-peat.

Washington Wizards – 37 Years and counting

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When the franchise was last crowned as champion, they were called the Washington Bullets. They reached the NBA finals a year later but lost to Seattle. Since then, Bullets or Wizards, they’ve never gotten past the conference semifinals.

Oklahoma City Thunder – 36 Years and counting

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Technically, the wait is for Seattle fans. In 1979 the Sonics won the NBA title, beating the Bullets (we talked about them already). In 1996 the Sonics made the NBA finals once again, losing to Michael Jordan and the 72-10 Bulls. In 2008 the franchise moved to Oklahoma City. They’ve been successful, but reaching the finals in 2012 has been the most they’ve been able to do thus far.

Philadelphia 76ers – 32 Years and counting

Julius Erving, Moses Malone

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In 1983, the Philadelphia 76ers, led by Moses Malone and Julius Erving, won an NBA championship in one of the most dominant runs in NBA playoff history, sweeping the Lakers in the finals. Since then, it’s been one conference finals in 1985 and reaching the NBA finals in 2001. That’s pretty much it.

Boston Celtics – 22 Years (1986-2008)

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Still the franchise with the most NBA championships despite the Lakers doing their best to catch up, the Celtics fell into a deep and long drought after the 86′ team, arguably the best in the history of the game. They made the finals in 1987, but that was the last hurrah for the Larry Bird and co. group. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce formed a big three next to Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and others to have their ‘anything’s possible‘ moment. They made the finals again two years later, losing to the Lakers.

Houston Rockets – 20 Years and counting

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Hakeem Olajuwon with a group of excellent role players around him led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. Who cares if Michael Jordan wasn’t (mostly) around? It still counts! Since then, they’ve been to the conference finals twice (1997, 2015) and that’s it.