Basketball is one of those sports where the dominant teams have shifted a lot over the years. It might surprise you to know that some teams in the NBA have never won a championship. Despite these teams' quality players and coaches, they've never managed to bring home the trophy.
So while teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtic have 17 rings a piece, let's take a look at the teams that are ringless.
11 NBA Teams That Have Never Won a Championship
1. Indiana Pacers
Despite being a team with many tricks up their sleeve, the Pacers haven't managed to cinch an NBA championship just yet.
Before the ABA and NBA merger, the Pacers were a formidable force. They won the ABA championship three times, and they even featured in the ABA finals twice more, though they lost both times.
Unfortunately, the team hasn't had much luck mirroring their success in the now-defunct ABA. The harsh competition in the NBA has beaten them back time and time again, and it's no wonder. The Pacers have had to come up against some of basketball's toughest teams, including Shaq and Kobe with the Lakers.
2. Brooklyn Nets
This one will probably come as a surprise and is also one that likely won't be on this list for long. However, despite being fierce contenders, the Brooklyn Nets haven't won an NBA championship yet.
They reigned twice in the ABA championship. But that was under their previous name, the New York Nets, in 1974 and 1976. At that time, the young team was full of drive and hard work that obviously paid off.
However, the Nets have not been able to clinch the NBA championship ever since. In 2002 and 2003, they made it to the NBA finals. Led by Jason Kidd, they went all out for the trophy. Unfortunately, they were knocked out of the competition on both occasions, only a few games shy of bringing home the trophy.
3. Denver Nuggets
Unlike the Pacers and the Nets, the Nuggets don't have an ABA championship to their name. The only time they made it to the ABA finals was in 1976, the last year before the ABA-NBA merger. Since then, they've been unable to break through to the top in the NBA.
However, in 2020, the team found themselves in the Western Conference Finals. Sadly, they weren't able to cinch a win. The knockout marked the fourth time they had lost in the Western Conference Finals.
4. Phoenix Suns
Although the Suns have made it to the NBA finals on two occasions, they lost their chances of being NBA championship winners both times.
In their first final in 1976, they lost to the Boston Celtics. They lost their second NBA finals to the Chicago Bulls. On either occasion, they did not go down without a fight. They even made history with the first-ever triple-overtime games in the NBA championship.
No doubt, you're surprised to see the Phoenix Suns made this list. Unfortunately, Steve Nash, despite winning NBA MVP twice, could not help his team win an NBA championship.
5. Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz has made it to the playoffs a staggering 30 times. Considering the team has only played 47 seasons, it's a wonder they've not managed to claim a championship ring of their own. They've even made it as far as the NBA finals twice, in 1997 and 1998.
Ultimately, Karl Malone and John Stockton were no match for the Chicago Bulls, especially while Michael Jordan was with the Bulls.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
The LA Clippers started as the Buffalo Braves in 1970. Over the years, they've had to move from the Empire State to San Diego and then to Los Angeles.
They started playing in the NBA in 1984. However, the LA Clippers haven't had their time to shine in the NBA. Actually, they have never been in the finals. Even when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were on their side, they could not convert the duo's magic to an NBA championship.
7. Charlotte Hornets
It's a shock that the Hornets are still on the list of NBA teams without a championship. One would expect that Michael Jordan's ownership could transform the team for the better. But despite belonging to an NBA legend, the team is yet to win the league.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
While the Timberwolves had Kevin Garnett on their side, they bounded to the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, that was as far as they would go. They lost to the Lakers and have since made it to the playoffs just once.
Kevin Garnett would later go to the Bolton Celtics to win the championship with them. Garnett's victory at another team proves Timberwolves lost a golden chance at winning the tournament when they let him go.
9. Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic may be on this list of NBA teams without a championship, but they have had their chances at success. In 1995, Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway guided them to the finals. Sadly, they gave the victory away to the Houston Rockets.
Orlando Magic were a force to be reckoned with in the '90s. They even defeated Michael Jordan at the Eastern Conference Finals in 1995 but failed to win the championship. In 1996, the crown slipped from their grasp once more against the Chicago Bulls, thanks to Michael Jordan.
Similarly, in 2009, Magic followed Dwight Howard to another NBA final. This time, they lost again to the Lakers. Ever since then, their dreams of winning the championship seem to have dimmed as Magic consistently finishes in the lower half of the table.
10. Memphis Grizzlies
Prior to 2001, the Memphis Grizzlies were actually the Vancouver Grizzlies. In 2013, the team made it to the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, their story of success ends there. It was the one and only time they made it so far in the NBA, and on that occasion, they suffered a defeat by the Spurs.
11. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans joined the NBA in 2002. Therefore, they are yet to get as many chances at the title. But they had a good run with Anthony Davis before he left for the Lakers. With the young star, Zion Williamson, the team has rekindled their hope of winning the NBA championship.
Wrap Up: NBA Teams Without a Championship
Despite there being only 30 teams in the NBA, 11 of them are still without rings. Some, like the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, were successful under the ABA but suffered after the merger. Others have made it as far as the finals but have failed to bring home a win.
Recent developments and trends in the NBA may boost the hope for some of these teams to win the NBA championship soon. We just have to wait and see what the future holds.
Related: How do NBA Playoffs Work?