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NBA Finals Winners, Losers, and Records

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In the history of the professional basketball playoffs altogether, the Boston Celtics lead with the most title wins of any team in the NBA, with seventeen to its name – the Lakers following closely with sixteen. The third place titles winners in the entire history of the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls, lag behind them with only six. Combined, the Boston Celtics, with their 17 Finals wins and the Lakers (formerly Minneapolis, currently Los Angeles), with their 16 Finals wins have won over half of the sixty-four championship titles in the entire history of the competition – with thirty-three in all between them.

The Boston Celtics were the first team to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy under its new name, in 1984, after beating the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Los Angeles Lakers have the most Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy wins to their name of all NBA teams, with eight. The Chicago Bulls follow closely behind them, with six.

The record for the most NBA Finals appearances also belongs to the Lakers, with 31, the Celtics following with 21 total appearances throughout the championship’s history. The record for the most individual games won within the NBA Finals also belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, with 89, the Boston Celtics following with 77. In third place, the Philadelphia 76ers lag way behind those two.

During the 1985 NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics set the still-standing record of 148 points as the highest point total by a team in a single NBA Finals game, during the first game of the playoffs, remembered by fans as the “Memorial Day Massacre.”

The record for the most consecutive NBA Finals wins in a row also belongs to the Boston Celtics, winning eight consecutive Finals total from 1959-1966. The most common match-up for the NBA Finals has been between the Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, who have played one another twelve times – with the Celtics having won nine, and the Lakers having won three. The Lakers are also a part of the second and third most common NBA Finals match-ups – having played against the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers six times (winning five and losing one), and having played against the New York Knicks five times (winning three and losing two).

During the 1993-1994 season, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets became the only player in NBA history to win all three major NBA sports award, the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award all within the same season.

Seven teams have played in the NBA Finals at least once yet never have never managed won a title: the Orlando Magic, the New York Nets, the Chicago Suns, the Dallas Mavericks, the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Utah Jazz – which is actually the team with the distinction of having won the fewest points in a single NBA Finals game, with 54 points earned during Game Three against the Chicago Bulls in 1998.

Of the NBA’s thirty franchises, there are seven teams that have never competed in the NBA Finals at all: the Los Angeles Clippers, in 40 seasons; the Denver Nuggets, in 34 seasons; the New Orleans Hornets, in 22 seasons; the Minnesota Timberwolves, in 21 seasons; the Memphis Grizzlies, in 12 seasons; the Toronto Raptors, in 15 seasons; and the Charlotte Bobcats, in 6 seasons.