October 3, 2022

Ah, the great debate. When it came to deciding which NBA teams are the best of all time, we argued and shouted at each other for a while before finally deciding that our North Star in these debates would be to research the teams who were dominating who they were playing against. . We have compiled a list that we maintain.

This list is also featured in our special issue, SLAM Presents TOP 75 NBA Teams of All Time. Shop here.

Check out the full list below to see who our number one is and where your favorite team ranks. We expect there to be some unhappy fans, but that’s what makes it fun, isn’t it?


No. 66-75

Last but not least. From the 1997-98 Pacers who battled the Chicago Bulls’ “Last Dance” team to the 2018-19 Raptors who made history in the 6.


No. 65-55

These teams laid the foundation for the greatness to come. The birth of the Celtics dynasty with Bill Russell in the 2004-2005 Phoenix Suns had the best record in the L.


No. 54-44

Rewrite history. The 2003-04 Pistons that ended the Lakers Finals won Milwaukee’s first title.


No. 43-33

The heavyweights have become champions. From the 1983-84 Celtics that took the chip back to the Bean over LA to the 2011-12 Heat that earned LeBron James his first ring.


No. 32-22

Tight spaces and pressure situations formed these teams into dynasties. From the 2001-02 Lakers completing the hat-trick to the Spurs team that gave Tim Duncan his third ring.


No. 21-11

These teams have gone down in history. The 2015-16 Warriors who won 73 games against the Cavaliers team that upset them in that same final.


No. 10

Back to back. Miami became the first Eastern Conference team to repeat as champions since the “Last Dance” Bulls.


No. 9

At the height of their dominance in 2000-01, the Shaq and Kobe-led Lakers generated one of the best playoff streaks of all time when they lost just one game in the 2001 playoffs.


No. 8

Fully paid. The early ’80s were mostly dominated by the Lakers and Celtics, but the 1982-83 Sixers, led by Julius Erving and Moses Malone, swept LA in the Finals.


No. 7

The first of six rings for Jordan, this Bulls team redeemed themselves when they swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and then beat the Lakers in five.


Number 6

A revenge tour and Magic’s first regular season MVP, this “Showtime” Lakers team returned to the Finals after missing it the previous season.


#5

A coin toss in 1969 allowed the Bucks to sign Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won a championship in his second season as he averaged more than 30 points per game and earned MVP honors. Legendary.


Number 4

Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics were flying high in the mid-80s. Larry himself won his second Finals MVP trophy in 1986.


#3

The opening act before Showtime. The Lakers capped off a terrific season and proved the franchise right. Wilt Chamberlain was the Finals MVP and Jerry West could finally feel like a winner.


No. 2

One of the most talented teams ever assembled in the L, the Warriors lost just one game in the 2017 playoffs. The addition of Kevin Durant made their 2016-17 team unstoppable.


No. 1

Top 2 and they’re not 2. The 1995-96 Bulls weathered a perfect storm; by getting Michael Jordan back to full fitness, adding Dennis Rodman, the Bulls won their fourth title.


Photos via Getty Images.