The Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the NBA’s championship stage for the first time in a while.
Los Angeles clinched its 32nd Finals trip as a franchise with their 117-107 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets. In doing so, they have put an end to the longest Finals drought in franchise history (10 years) as the Lakers had never gone longer than nine years between Finals berths (1991-2000).
Fittingly, they will take on the Miami Heat in the 2020 Finals, a team that is ending a mini-drought of their own after defeating the Boston Celtics 125-113 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Miami last made The Finals in 2014, when it was lead to that perch by current Lakers star LeBron James. As for the Celtics, they will enter 2020-21 with a 10-year gap between Finals appearances.
The Lakers being in The Finals got us thinking — and researching — exactly how long it has been between championship round appearances for every NBA team.
The Sacramento Kings’ franchise has gone the longest since it last was in The Finals (69 years, when it made it as the Rochester Royals in 1951). Conversely, the Golden State Warriors (1 year), Toronto Raptors (1 year), Cleveland Cavaliers (2 years), San Antonio Spurs (6 years) and Oklahoma City Thunder (8 years) have logged the fewest years between appearances, now that Miami is off the list.
Here’s a quick look at how long it has been since each team that has made at least one Finals has appeared in one …
(Note: Six franchises — the Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans — have never reached The Finals. They are noted below with a N/A.)
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|Team||First Finals appearance||Last Finals appearance||Current drought (years)|
|Atlanta Hawks||1957 ^||1961 ^||59|
|Brooklyn Nets||2002 ^^||2003 ^^||17|
|Golden State Warriors||1948||2019||1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||1949 ^^^||2020||—|
|New Orleans Pelicans||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|New York Knicks||1951||1999||21|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1978 *||2012||8|
|Philadelphia 76ers||1950 **||2001||19|
|Portland Trail Blazers||1977||1992||28|
|Sacramento Kings||1951 ***||1951 ***||69|
|San Antonio Spurs||1999||2014||6|
|Washington Wizards||1970 ****||1979||41|
^ = franchise located in St. Louis
^^ = franchise located in New Jersey
^^^ = franchise known as Minneapolis Lakers
* = franchise known as Seattle SuperSonics
** = franchise known as Syracuse Nationals
*** = franchise known as Rochester Royals
**** = franchise known as Baltimore Bullets
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