The Professional Basketball Era started in 1947 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the Philadelphia Warriors won the first title and then lost the title the following year to the Baltimore Bullets. The third and final year of the BAA before it merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) marked the beginning of the first Dynasty the Minneapolis Lakers.  Led by George Mikan they won 5 titles. There were less than a dozen teams in the original NBA, and let’s just say zero diversity, but it eventually evolved into the amazing talent saturated league we love today.

The NBA is a league that has been defined by it’s stars, and just as much it’s Dynasties.  With the Golden State Warriors being the most recent. After the Mikan Lakers there is a two year gap before Bill Russell, Red Auerbach shape the modern NBA with eleven titles. It seems fitting that there was no dynasty for almost 10 years after Russell and the Celtics lost their grip, almost as if the league itself refused to be dominated. There was also the 1976 merger of the NBA and ABA which spread the talent around and kept things “interesting” to say the least.

Then Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came into the league and took their personal college rivalry to the biggest stage and turned the league into an even more star driven dynasty loving entity. They both led coexisting Dynasties and became two of the most successful sports franchises in history. This is followed up by the historically disrespected Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, were great, won back to back titles, but not quite a dynasty. Then Air Jordan entered the fray and changed the game completely and took it to another level for the majority of the 90’s.

There was a brief power vacuum which is quickly and filled by the LA Lakers driven by Shaq and Kobe, and then just Kobe from 2000-2010. It can be seen as two seperate teams and therefore only one dynasty technically (2000-2002 Lakers). In any event, that super power overlaps with the San Antonio Spurs, with Coach Popovich and “The Big Fundamental,”  Tim Duncan, leading a decade of quiet dominance. Then of course there is LeBron James, probably the second greatest player of all-time, who so far has taken the Cavs to five NBA Finals and the Heat to four NBA Finals. The Heat are closer to being a dynasty, but ultimately probably fall short and Cleveland definitely falls short after going 1-3 in the NBA Finals from 2015-2018. LeBron was The King for a decade, but he didn’t quite build a dynasty more like two provinces. All of the Cavs NBA Finals appearances from 2015-2018 were against the aforementioned Golden State dynasty, which is currently tied with the Raptors in this years’ NBA Finals. They are the most sure fire dynasty we’ve had since Jordan and his Bulls. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and solid role players with the competent coaching of Steve Kerr are simply continuing this great NBA tradition with a modern approach. The only questions that can be asked now are how much longer will this dynasty last and when it does finally end, what team is next?

Dynasty Data

Golden State Warriors

  • 5 straight NBA Finals appearances (2015-2019): 3-1 record (right now)
  • Epic collapse in 2016 (up 3-1)
  • 73-9 team in 2016, best record ever for single season.
  • 3 HOF core: Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry
  • All-star: Draymond Green
  • Contributors: Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguadala (2015 Finals MVP), Livingston, Bogut, Zaza Pachulia, David West, Matt Barnes, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, JaVale McGee
  • Coach: Steve Kerr
  • Dynasty: YES

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • 4 straight NBA Finals appearances (2015-2018): 1-3 record
  • epic comeback in 2016 after being down 3-1 vs GS
  • Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured in 2015 loss
  • 2 HOF Core: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving
  • All-star: Kevin Love
  • Contributors: Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver, Richard Jefferson, Matthew Dellavedova, Anderson Varejao, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, George Hill
  • Coaches: David Blatt, Tyronn Lue
  • Dynasty: NO

Miami Heat

  • 4 straight Finals appearances (2011-2014): 2-2 record
  • Went 1-1 versus another dynasty and greatest coach in NBA History, Gregg Popovich
  • 54-28 in 2010-2011 (Lost Finals)
  • 46-20 in 2011-2012 (Won Finals)
  • 66-16 2012-2013 (Won Finals)
  • 58-24 2013-2014 (lost finals)
  • 2 HOF core: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade,
  • All-star: Chris Bosh
  • Contributors: Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, Mike Miller, James Jones
  • Coach: Erik Spoelstra
  • Dynasty: NO

San Antonio Spurs

  • Titles in 99, 03, 05, 07, 14
  • NBA Finals appearance in 2013
  • 12 season stretch with 5 appearances and a 4-1 record
  • Defeated LeBron’s Heat in 14, LeBron’s Cavs in 07, defending champion Pistons in 05, and New Jersey Nets team with Jason Kidd in 03
  • 3 HOF core: Tim Duncan, David Robinson Kawhi Leonard
  • All-star: Tony Parker
  • Greatest 6th man ever in Manu Ginobli
  • Other contributors: Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Malik Rose, Brent Barry, Glenn Robinson, Michael Finley, Beno Udrih, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli
  • Coach: Gregg Popovich
  • Dynasty: YES

LA Lakers

  • 7 NBA Finals appearances from 2000-2010
  • 3 straight titles from 2000-2002
  • 3 straight NBA Finals appearances from 2008-2010
  • Back-to-back titles 09 and 10
  • 15-1 in playoffs in 2001
  • According to Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball, the 2001 Lakers were the 5th best single-season team of all-time
  • Part 1 (2000-2004)
  • 2 HOF core: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant
  • All-Stars:
  • Contributors:Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Horace Grant, Devean George, Brian Shaw, Isaiah Rider, Karl Malone, Gary Payton
  • Coach: Phil Jackson
  • Part 2 (2008-2010)
  • HOF core: Kobe Bryant
  • All-stars: Pau Gasol,
  • Contributors: Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, Vladimir Radmanovic, Jordan Farmar, Metta World Peace
  • Coach: Phil Jackson
  • Dynasty: YES (I considered breaking this into two distinct eras, but ultimately just kept it as one. If you break it in two, then I think the 2000-2004 team qualifies as a dynasty and the 2008-2010 does not)

Chicago Bulls

  • 1991-1998
  • HOF Core: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman
  • All-stars: Horace Grant
  • Other contributors: (91- 93) BJ Armstrong, Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, (96-98) Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, Steve Kerr
  • 72-10 in 1996 (2nd-best single season team of all time according to Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball)
  • Coach Phil Jackson
  • Dynasty: YES

Detroit Pistons

  • 1988-1990
  • 3 straight Finals appearances
  • Back-to-back titles in 89 and 90
  • 63-19 in 88-89
  • HOF core: Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars
  • All-stars: Mark Aguirre, Bill Laimbeer
  • Contributors: Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, Adrian Dantley, Rick Mahorn
  • Known as one of the toughest/nastiest teams ever
  • Battled Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers
  • Coach: Chuck Daly
  • Dynasty: NO (close, but one title or one more year of dominance short)

LA Lakers (Showtime)

  • 1980-1989
  • 8 Finals appearances
  • 5 titles (5-3 record)
  • Back-to-back titles in 87 and 88
  • HOF core: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy
  • All-stars: Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes
  • Contributors: Michael Cooper, Spencer Haywood, Bob McAdoo, Mitch Kupchak, Byron Scott, Mychal Thompson,
  • Battled Bird’s Celtics three times in the NBA Finals, Jordan for the Bulls first title in 91, Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boy Pistons in 88 and 89, and the Sixers with Dr. J and Moses Malone in back-to-back NBA Finals
  • Coaches: Jack McKinney (10 games in 1980), Paul Westhead, Pat Riley
  • Dynasty: YES

Boston Celtics

  • 1981-1987: 5 NBA Finals appearances
  • 3 titles: 81, 84, 86
  • Six 60+ win seasons from 1980-1986 (they won 56 games in 1982)
  • Also had 59 wins in 1987
  • HOF Core: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish
  • All-stars: Tiny Archibald (81 title team), Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson (HOF)
  • Contributors: Chris Ford, Cedric Maxwell (81 Finals MVP), Gerald Henderson, Quinn Buckner, Scott Wedman, Bill Walton (6th Man for 86 champs)
  • Coaches: Bill Fitch, K.C. Jones
  • Dynasty: YES

No Dynasty from 1970-1979 (NBA and ABA merger happens in this era, but either way no team dominates)

Boston Celtics

  • 1957-1969
  • 10 straight NBA Finals appearances from 57-66
  • 8 straight titles from 59-66
  • Titles in 68 and 69
  • HOF core: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Bill Sharman, Sam Jones
  • All-stars: Bailey Howell (all-star in 66)
  • Contributors: Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, Jack Nichols, KC Jones, Maurice King, Tom Sanders (HOF even though he never made an all-star team), Willie Naulls, Larry Siegfried, Don Nelson (HOF despite never making an all-star team), Mal Graham (Averaged 13.3 ppg and 12.3 ppg in his only two pro seasons with Celtics in 68 and 69)
  • Coaches: Red Auerbach, Bill Russell (player coach 68 and 69)
  • Dynasty: YES

The BAA (Basketball Association of America), started in 1946 merged with the NBL (National Basketball League) in 1950 and the NBA was formed.

Minneapolis Lakers

  • 1949-1954
  • 5 titles in 6 seasons (didn’t make the NBA Finals in 1951)
  • Team came in 1st or 2nd every year in this run (out of only 5-6 teams)
  • HOF core: George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Slater Martin, Vern Mikkelsen
  • Contributors: Herm Schaefer, Arnie Ferrin, Pep Saul, Whitey Skoog, Dick Schnittker
  • Coach: John Kundla
  • Dynasty: Yes

Matt Greeley is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website and host of 4th and 26, a sports podcast. Follow him @4thand26pod on Twitter and check out the podcast at