NBA History: Matching, Deduction, Growth & Expansion

In my school-teaching days, I enjoyed using old-fashioned “matching” exercises – you remember (though perhaps not fondly), two columns of data, some criteria for analysis (e.g. same/opposite meaning, dates of events), solve the little logic puzzle. Not only are they simple and quick to “check,” a well-conceived matching exercise can induce useful productive cogitation … some good old-fashioned non-technologically enhanced Thinking.

Here’s a “for instance” for ya!

Match the entity with its total of NBA/BAA championships:

__ 1. Warrior Franchise          [a] 6
__ 2. 76er Franchise               [b] 4
__ 3. Philadelphia, PA             [c] 3

“Cheat Sheet”

The Warriors, who have existed from Day 1, have achieved six titles – 1947 and 1956 in Philadelphia; 1975, 2015, 2017 and 2018 in the Bay Area.

The City of Brotherly Love celebrated two over-powering Sixer title runs (1967 and 1983) in addition to the Warrior championships which framed the league’s first decade … a total of four.

The “76ers” were born when the NBA as such came into existence in the fall of 1949, residing in Syracuse, New York and playing as the Nationals for 14 years, capturing the crown in 1955 … so that’s how the franchise can claim three banners.

NBA Elite

The Warriors moved into a third-place tie with the Chicago Bulls when they repelled LBJ’s Cavs in the ’18 Finals for that sixth brass ring – one title ahead of Pop’s Spurs.

The Pistons and Heat join the Sixer/Nats with three championships; the Knicks and Rockets boast two apiece.

Nine franchises – including two separate ones that called themselves “Bullets” (1948 and 1978) – have claimed a single championship.

Location, Location, Location

Only the Warriors, Sixer/Nats and, of course, the Lakers have earned titles both before and after re-location.

The Warriors are also one of only three teams that date back to the league’s inaugural 1946-47 season, the Knicks and our Celtics being the others.

Can you guess which NBA franchise ranks third behind Boston and New York in terms of longevity in its original location?

Here’s a hint – their fans may have the same problem regarding championships with GSW that many of us Celtic fans have with the “Fakers” in the same matter.

The third-most “entrenched” NBA franchise is the Bulls, who arose in the Windy City for the 1966-67 season – do you suppose their fans begrudge the Warriors those two Philly titles, as many of us wish to dismiss Laker championships earned in a location that actually has some, ya know, LAKES!!!

Where’s B-Diddy When I Need Him?

The post-George Mikan Minneapolis Lakers seem to have been the first NBA organization to ponder the notion we now call tanking – here’s my rendering of that little historical tidbit.

I bring this up not so much to criticize – though I’ll readily own an abhorrence for “purposeful losing” – but rather to paint the Lakers' leadership of that time as forward-thinking … the kind of businessmen who just might be eye-balling the allure of the burgeoning West Coast, particularly in contrast to ice-fishing with real-life Grumpy Old Men.

I’m not familiar with the particulars that resulted in the Lakers calling Hollywood home for the 1960-61 season (nor, for that matter, why rookie Jerry West’s college coach was brought along to be Auerbach’s whipping boy for most of the ‘60’s).

But the re-location of the Minneapolis franchise to the So-Cal market was taken as a betrayal by Harlem Globetrotter honcho Abe Saperstein, who felt he’d been promised “first dibs” on Los Angeles. Soon thereafter he launched the short-lived American Basketball League, essentially in spite. The NBA responded by putting an expansion franchise in Saperstein’s home-base of Chicago for the '61-62 campaign. [Those Chicago Packers are now the Washington Wizards.]

If Commissioner Maurice Podoloff had simply kept his word to ol’ Abe, two things would be true – the C’s would be WAAAY ahead in total championships …

… but, alas, KG would have been a Laker!