The NBA was introduced in 1946 as basketball became more popular across the country after WWII. It was called the Basketball Association of America before merging with the American League to become the NBA. Six surviving teams that first played in the BAA are still in the NBA today, making them the oldest teams in the league.
The Boston Celtics – Joined 1946
The Boston Celtics are one of only three basketball teams to have been around when the sport went professional. They featured in the very first BAA season, though it proved tough for them to make their mark. Things worked out alright for the Celtics though as they became the most successful team in basketball history, winning the NBA a record 17 times.
Golden State Warriors – Joined 1946
Golden State, or the Philadelphia Warriors as they were known then, were also founded in 1946 and went straight into the BAA. The Warriors managed to win the Eastern Division in 1947, making them one of only two teams in the NBA to have won their BAA division.
The Warriors moved from Philly to San Francisco in 1962, before changing their name to ‘Golden State’ in 1971. It wasn’t until recent seasons that the Warriors really established themselves as a powerhouse of basketball, winning three NBA Finals from 2015 to 2018.
New York Knickerbockers – Joined 1946
The Knicks are the third and final team to still be in the NBA after featuring in the first BAA season. Some would say the Knicks have been making up the numbers for over 70 years, but they have won the NBA Championship twice. The glory days for Knicks fans came in the 1970s, with players like Wilt Frazier and Willis Reed dominating on the court.
Sacramento Kings – Joined 1948
The Kings might be the oldest surviving basketball team as they were established back in 1923 as the Rochester Seagrams. The franchise has moved around over the past 50 years, being known as the Cincinnati Royals and Kansas City Kings, before settling in Sacramento. As the Rochester Royals, they won the BAA Western Division in 1948. The Kings have struggled to make an impact on the league in their various forms, but did win the NBA Championship in 1951, again as the Rochester Royals.
Los Angeles Lakers – Joined 1948
The Lakers became BAA members in 1948 but were known as the Minneapolis Lakers until 1960 when they moved to Los Angeles. They won five championships in Minneapolis before switching to LA where they became a hugely successful team and have 16 NBA titles.
Detroit Pistons – Joined 1948
The Pistons began life as the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons before moving to Detroit in 1957. As a franchise, the Pistons had to wait until 1989 to secure their first NBA title, which was followed by another the next season during the “Bad Boys” era.
These teams have been exciting fans across the country for longer than anyone else. They are the oldest and most established pro basketball teams ever, with all six playing in the NBA’s first season in 1949.