NBA Teams

Last 20 NBA Champions: Legacy Of Greatness

By Salim Prajapati / 11 December 2023 08:20 AM

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The NBA has witnessed some of the greatest basketball teams in history, each leaving an indelible mark on the league and its fans.

Over the last two decades, 11 teams have reached the top of the NBA, clinching the coveted title of NBA Champions.

Moreover, since the league's inception in 1946, the NBA has seen 21 different franchises rise to become champions.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have won the most NBA championships, with 17 titles. The Golden State Warriors have won 7 titles, the Chicago Bulls have won 6 titles, and the San Antonio Spurs have won 5 titles.

In this article, we are taking a trip down memory lane to explore the legacy of greatness left by the last 20 NBA champions. From legendary dynasties to unexpected underdog triumphs, these teams have etched their names into the annals of basketball history.

2023 - Denver Nuggets

Source : twitter

  • Season Record: 53-29 (.646)
  • Head Coach: Michael Malone

Fresh off a thrilling 4-1 victory over the Miami Heat, the Denver Nuggets carved their name in NBA history as the league's newest champions.

Led by the ever-explosive Nikola Jokic, known for his remarkable versatility and superb court vision, the Nuggets showcased a potent blend of size, skill, and unwavering spirit to overcome adversity throughout the playoffs.

Against the Miami Heat, Denver, led by head coach Michael Malone demonstrated resilience and an unyielding determination that captivated fans worldwide.

Jokic cemented his status as a basketball legend with the Finals MVP honors after leading his team to a championship victory.

2022 - Golden State Warriors

Source : people

  • Season Record: 53-29 (.646)
  • Head Coach: Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors, under the leadership of the dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, reclaimed their place at the top of the NBA mountain in 2022.

Despite a slow start to the season, the Warriors' resilience shone through. They fought their way through the playoffs and set a date with the Boston Celtics in the finals.

With Draymond Green orchestrating the offense and Andrew Wiggins adding valuable defensive prowess, the Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 4-2 in a hard-fought six-game series to win their fourth trophy in eight years.

Curry's remarkable shooting performance throughout the playoffs solidified his position as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history.

2021 - Milwaukee Bucks

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  • Season Record: 46-26 (.639)
  • Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer

Milwaukee Bucks secured their 10th Central Division title, a record, by defeating the Chicago Bulls. Finishing the season with a 46-26 record, they claimed the third seed.

The playoffs saw them sweep the Miami Heat in the opening round and win a seven-game series against the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

Advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in 47 years, they also won the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history by defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games.

Despite losing the first two matches, the Bucks won the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns by 4-2, clinching their second NBA crown, the first since 1971.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, was unstoppable throughout the playoffs, earning well-deserved Finals MVP honors.

2020 - Los Angeles Lakers

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  • Season Record: 52-19 (.732)
  • Head Coach: Frank Vogel

Led by the iconic pairing of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to championship glory in 2020. The Lakers finished the season with a 52-19 record.

In the playoffs, they emerged victorious in five games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets respectively, securing their spot in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

In six games, the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat, securing the 17th NBA championship for the franchise and equalling the record held by the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history.

The Lakers dedicated the season and the Finals victory to Kobe Bryant, who lost his life in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.

2019 - Toronto Raptors

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  • Season Record: 58-24 (.707)
  • Head Coach: Nick Nurse

In 2019, the Toronto Raptors achieved a historic milestone by earning their inaugural NBA Finals berth and clinching their first NBA championship.

The Raptors, led by small forward Kawhi Leonard, defied expectations and seized their first-ever NBA championship in 2019. This victory marked a historic juncture for Canada and the city of Toronto.

They emerged victorious in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Additionally, this marked the inaugural NBA Finals series held outside the United States.

Toronto secured a 4-2 victory over the Warriors, establishing themselves as the first team from a country other than the United States to claim the NBA championship.

2018 - Golden State Warriors

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  • Season Record: 58-24 (.707)
  • Head Coach: Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors began the 2017-18 season as the reigning champions and successfully defended their title by sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 in the Finals

Kevin Durant's offensive firepower blended with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson's brilliance proved too much for the Cavaliers to handle. 

The Warriors secured their third championship in a span of four years, which cemented their status as a dynasty. Golden State clinched the Pacific Division title and the Western Conference Championship for the fourth consecutive season.

Throughout the playoffs, the team triumphed over the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans in the Semi-finals. Their journey also featured a hard-fought 4-3 win against the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.

2017 - Golden State Warriors

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  • Season Record: 67-15 (.817)
  • Head Coach: Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors dominated the 2017 NBA season, clinching their 5th title and making history with an impressive 16-1 postseason record. Many argue that this Warriors team could be the best in NBA history.

Following the addition of free agent Kevin Durant, the team was christened a "superteam" by both media and fans, solidifying a new All-Star lineup dubbed the "Fantastic Four," consisting of Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

For the third straight season, the Golden State team clinched both the Pacific Division title and the Western Conference Championship. Then in the NBA Finals, the Warriors thrashed the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 to claim their fifth NBA Championship.

2016 - Cleveland Cavaliers

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  • Season Record: 57-25 (.695)
  • Head Coach: Tyronn Lue

The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, defied all odds to capture the city's first NBA glory in 2016.

The Cavaliers managed to secure victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after a seven-game series, overturning a 3-1 series deficit to retaliate against their defeat from the previous year.

The Cavs also achieved a historic feat by being the first team in NBA Finals history to overcome a 3-1 series disadvantage and emerge victorious.

Moreover, LeBron James, for his iconic solo performances, earned him the Finals MVP.

During the postseason, the Cavaliers achieved consecutive sweeps against the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks. They ultimately secured their place in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row by defeating the Toronto Raptors.

2015 - Golden State Warriors

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  • Season Record: 67-15 (.817)
  • Head Coach: Steve Kerr

In his inaugural year as head coach, Steve Kerr, a former NBA player, led the GS Warriors to a remarkable 67-15 record for the season, setting a new franchise milestone for the most wins in a single season.

Spearheaded by the dynamic pair of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they began their dynasty in 2015.

The Warriors team reached the 2015 NBA Finals and secured victory by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2, claiming their initial championship in four decades and marking the fourth in the franchise's history.

In Addition, the team won a total of 83 games during the regular season and playoffs, which is the third-highest in NBA history with a record of 83-20.

2014 - San Antonio Spurs

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  • Season Record: 53-29 (.646)
  • Head Coach: Steve Kerr

San Antonio Spurs won their 5th Larry O'Brien trophy in the 2013-14 season.

The Spurs won against the Dallas Mavericks in the First Round of the playoffs. Then, they beat the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the Semifinals. Finally, they secured a spot in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in franchise history by winning against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This also signified the Spurs' first occurrence of consecutive Finals appearances, again facing the Miami Heat, the team that had previously defeated them in the 2013 NBA Finals.

The Spurs sought redemption for their prior Finals defeat and clinched the NBA Championship by triumphing over Miami (4-1) in a five-game series.

2013 - Miami Heat

Source : usatoday

  • Season Record: 66-16 (.805)
  • Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra

The Miami Heat squad from the 2012-13 season is widely acknowledged as one of the most outstanding teams in NBA history.

The Heat emerged victorious in a seven-game NBA Finals thriller against the San Antonio Spurs, marking the Spurs' first defeat in the championship series.

During the season, the Heat underwent a remarkable 27-game winning streak, standing as the second-longest in NBA history at that point. They concluded the season with an impressive record of 66-16.

The "Big Three" LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were the crucial players for the Heat's back-to-back championship success.

2012 - Miami Heat

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  • Season Record: 46-20 (.697)
  • Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra

Under the fourth-year coaching of Erik Spoelstra and the second season playing with the "Big Three" of Dwyane, LeBron, and Chris, the Miami Heat won their second NBA championship in 2012.

Before the season started, they aimed to recover from the letdown of last year when they got defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

After finishing first in the division, they met the New York Knicks in the first-round playoffs. They faced the Indiana Pacers in the semifinals and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third consecutive postseason.

During the NBA Finals, the Heat went up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although they experienced a setback in Game 1, the Heat bounced back and secured victory in the next four consecutive games, ultimately claiming a 4-1 series lead and clinching the title.

2011 - Dallas Mavericks

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  • Season Record: 57-25 (.695)
  • Head Coach: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks enjoyed their most successful NBA season under head coach Rick Carlisle in 2010-11. Mark Cuban's team won their first championship in the franchise's history as they whipped the Miami Heat 4-2 in the NBA Finals.

During the playoff run, the Mavericks beat Portland in Round One. Then they achieved a remarkable sweep against the two-time defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the semi-finals.

Subsequently, they secured their place in the Finals for the first time since 2006 by overcoming the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Conference Finals.

The Mavericks and the Miami Heat had a rematch in the NBA Finals, just like in 2006. This time, the Mavericks won the championship by beating the Heat in six games.

2010 - Los Angeles Lakers

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  • Season Record: 57-25 (.695)
  • Head Coach: Phil Jackson

The Los Angeles Lakers secured their last NBA championship before 2020 during the 2009-10 season.

The Lakers successfully defended their title after winning their 15th championship in the 2009 NBA Finals by defeating the Orlando Magic.

In the 2010 Finals, the Lakers triumphed over the Boston Celtics in a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals. This time, the Lakers secured the series with a 4-3 victory, claiming their 16th NBA title.

Kobe Bryant earned his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP, marking his fifth and last NBA Championship.

2009 - Los Angeles Lakers

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  • Season Record: 65-17 (.793)
  • Head Coach: Phil Jackson

Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in four games to be crowned the NBA championship 15th time.

Led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, under the tutelage of head coach Phil Jackson, they recorded a remarkable 65 wins, the third most wins in franchise history.

Afterwards during the postseason, the Lakers prevailed over the Utah Jazz in the First Round. Subsequently, they faced a tough seven-game battle against the Houston Rockets in the Semifinals.

Then in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers secured a victory against the Denver Nuggets, earning their ticket to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year and marking their 30th appearance in franchise history. This achievement extended their NBA record for the highest number of Finals appearances.

2008 - Boston Celtics

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  • Season Record: 66-16 (.805)
  • Head Coach: Doc Rivers

Boston Celtics, led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 Finals to win their 17th NBA championship.

The team finished first in the Atlantic Division, and Eastern Conference, and achieved the league's best record with 66 wins that season.

Moreover, after a hiatus of two years from postseason action, they concluded their playoff drought by facing the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. They subsequently progressed to the NBA Finals, marking their return for the first time since 1987.

In the Finals, they clashed with the Los Angeles Lakers, reviving their historic rivalry. The Celtics emerged victorious with a 4-2 series win, securing their first championship since 1986.

2007 - San Antonio Spurs

Source : twitter

  • Season Record: 58-24 (.707)
  • Head Coach: Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs continued their reign in 2007, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games to secure their fourth NBA championship.

During the playoffs, the Spurs demonstrated their prowess by defeating the Denver Nuggets in five intense games during the first round. They continued their impressive performance by outmatching the Phoenix Suns in the Semifinals.

The team then displayed exceptional determination as they secured victory against a formidable opponent, the Utah Jazz, in the Conference Finals, paving their way to the NBA Finals.

There, San Antonio competed against the Cleveland Cavaliers, headed by a young LeBron James. The Spurs defeated the Cavs 4-0.

2006 - Miami Heat

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  • Season Record: 52-30 (.634)
  • Head Coach: Pat Riley

Miami Heat, with stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, won their first NBA championship by beating the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 Finals.

At the beginning of the season, Coach Stan Van Gundy resigned, and Pat Riley took over coaching the Heat. After that, they won 39 out of 62 games, ending the season with a 52-30 record.

In the postseason contention, the Heat defeated the Chicago Bulls the New Jersey Nets and the Detroit Pistons.

The Heat defeated the Pistons to secure their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals, where they faced the Dallas Mavericks.

Following two initial losses in the series, the Heat bounced back, securing victories in the subsequent four games and clinching their 1st championship in franchise history.

2005 - San Antonio Spurs

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  • Season Record: 59-23 (.720)
  • Head Coach: Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs won against the Detroit Pistons in a rematch of the 2003 Finals, securing victory in seven games.

Tim Duncan was a star once again, leading his team to success and earning his third Finals MVP award.

On the road to the NBA Finals, Gregg Popovich's team faced the Denver Nuggets in the first round, Seattle SuperSonics in the Conference semifinals and Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.

Eventually, in the championship round, the Spurs clinched their third NBA title by triumphing over the 2004 NBA champions, the Detroit Pistons, in a seven-game series.

2004 - Detroit Pistons

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  • Season Record: 54-28 (.659)
  • Head Coach: Larry Brown

The 2004 NBA championship was clinched by the Detroit Pistons in a five-game series as they secured an unexpected victory over the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers.

In the finals, The Pistons pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history, securing a 4-1 victory over the Lakers. This win marked their third overall championship and their first since 1990.

Besides, the team had difficult playoff matchups as they played against the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets and the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. With the win against Indiana, Detriot attained their first NBA Finals appearance since 1990.

2003 - San Antonio Spurs

Source : bleacherreport

  • Season Record: 60-22 (.732)
  • Head Coach: Gregg Popovich

Guided by the legendary Tim Duncan and under the coaching brilliance of Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs, clinched their second NBA championship by triumphing over the New Jersey Nets in 2003.

During the regular season, the Spurs achieved a milestone by winning 60 games concluding the season with an impressive record of 60-22.

Then in the Western Conference playoffs, the Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns in round one. Subsequently, they overcame the defending three-time NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, securing their place in the NBA Finals, where they triumphed against the New Jersey Nets.