The 11 teams still in search of NBA Finals fame

The Los Angeles Lakers boast an impressive 17 championship triumphs - but the wait goes on for 11 teams still battling it out for NBA Finals glory.

Four of these franchises have been active for more than 50 years, whereas one team was born this century.

Planet Sport spills the beans on the teams that are yet to lift the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

Indiana Pacers

Best finish - NBA Finals runner-up (2000)

Founded in 1967, the Indiana Pacers went close to winning their maiden title at the end of the Reggie Miller era.

They were beaten by the Detroit Pistons in six games in the 2003/04 season, with Detroit battering the Lakers 4-1 in the Finals.

The next season was a tough one, to say the least, for the Pacers, who had their season derailed after the infamous 'Malice at the Palace'. A full on brawl between the Pacers and the defending champions Detroit Pistons.

Defensive juggernaut Ron Artest was handed the longest suspension in NBA history (86 games), Stephen Jackson missed 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal 25.

There is a genuine belief that the Pacers would have won the title if not for the mass brawl that commenced with 45.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

In 2000, the Lakers beat Indiana in the Finals, the Pacers' only trip to that stage of the Playoffs.

They have had some great teams over the years, some great seasons, but there has always been one team just a little bit better than them.

Denver Nuggets

Best finish - Western Conference Finals runner-up

Surprisingly, the Nuggets have never even reached the Finals or won a conference title, so yes, they have never won the NBA championship.

There was the ABA (American Basketball Association) that existed between 1967-1975 that the Nuggets competed in, but they didn't win that either. The Pacers, and another team on this list have won it, however.

In 1978, the Nuggets - led by David Thompson - lost to the Seattle SuperSonics in the Western Conference Finals, before further Conference Finals losses to bogey team the Lakers in 1985, 2009 and 2020.

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant

Best finish - NBA Finals Runner Up (2002, 2003)

Brooklyn have been the favourites to win the 2021/22 season's championship for the majority of the campaign, but a combination of their inability to win without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving's situation, the James Harden trade and Phoenix Suns' incredible form, they are now second favourites.

They still have a tremendous chance to win it all, perhaps the greatest chance in their history.

The other successful ABA franchise (as the New York Nets), the Brooklyn Nets (then known as the New Jersey Nets) reached the Finals twice at the start of this century, losing to party-poopers the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, in their only trips to the Finals since they joined the NBA in 1976.

Utah Jazz

Best finish - NBA Finals runner-up (1997, 1998)

Perhaps the most unfortunate team to be without an NBA championship, the Jazz had their '90s ruined by the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.

Utah were strong in that decade, with Karl Malone and John Stockton forming one of the greatest duos in NBA history.

Two 4-2 defeats to the Bulls in 1997 and 1998 are the only two Finals trips in the history of the franchise.

They have only reached the Conference Finals one time since then (2007) but will fancy their chances this term with their modern little and large duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

Los Angeles Clippers

Best finish - Western Conference Finals runner-up

The Clippers were really bad, for a really long time. Before 2012, they had reached the Playoffs seven times in 40 years.

They are a strong and desirable franchise these days, however, and reached their first Conference Finals last season, losing in six to the Suns.

A championship win looks unlikely this season, with Kawhi Leonard still injured. The Clippers' roster is a strong one with a healthy Kawhi, and their 'Lob City' eam with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was fun to watch and they probably had enough about them to win a championship, but it never quite happened.

They were swept by the Spurs in the second round in 2012 before further semi-final failures against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.

Phoenix Suns

Best finish - NBA Finals runner-up (1976, 2003, 2021)

Last season, the Suns made the Playoffs for the first time in over a decade, surprising and entertaining everyone as they reached the Finals, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

As favourites this year, this article could be outdated in a few months, and many neutrals will be rooting for the Suns, and Chris Paul, to win their first championship.

Another team who have Michael Jordan to thank for their '90s woes, the Suns - led by Charles Barkley - lost in the Finals to the Bulls in six games back in '93.

Their other Finals appearance came in '76, another 4-2 defeat, this time to the second-most successful team in NBA history, the Boston Celtics.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Best finish - Western Conference runner-up

You would think the Timberwolves are scared of post-season basketball with the amount of Playoff appearances they have in recent years.

Their 2018 first-round exit to the Rockets is their only post-season campaign since their 2004 Western Conference Finals defeat to the Lakers.

Their Playoff history makes for bleak, and bizarre, reading. To suffer seven consecutive first-round losses before a Conference Finals defeat is only a little bit strange, but to go from that to no Playoff appearances in 14 seasons, sheesh, it's rough being a Timberwolves fan.

Orlando Magic

Best finish - NBA Finals runner-up (1995, 2009)

Two Finals appearances; the Magic have come close, but also very far, to winning a championship on two occasions.

With Michael Jordan temporarily 'retired', the Magic reached the final stage of the post-season in '95.

They were swept by Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets, and when Jordan returned the next season, the broom was brought out a round earlier as Chicago won it all.

Their '95 defeat was with a 22-year-old Shaquille O'Neal as their main man, and another big man led them to the Finals in '09: Dwight Howard. 23-year-old Howard did something Shaq could not achieve, and that was win a game in the Finals.

Unfortunately, just like O'Neal, he also lost four.

Memphis Grizzlies

Best finish - Western Conference Finals

The Grizzlies were a consistent Playoff team in the 2010s with Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 2013.

However, the broom came out, unfortunately, as they were swept by the Spurs.

Their first Playoff appearances came in '04, '05 and '06 with Marc's brother, Pau, leading the team. They were swept all three times.

Charlotte Hornets

Best finish - Playoffs

The first of two franchises without a Conference Finals appearance, the Hornets and the Playoffs do not have a healthy relationship.

Charlotte have made it to the post-season five times since the turn of the century, getting beyond the first round twice.

Born in 1988, they made their Playoff bout in '93, losing to the New York Knicks in the second round.

Currently owned by Michael Jordan, the Hornets' last Playoff appearance came in 2016, losing to the Miami Heat, who swept them two years prior.

They have a chance of making the Playoffs this season with LaMelo Ball doing his thing, but making it past the first round would be nothing short of a miracle.

New Orleans Pelicans

Best finish - Playoffs

The youngest team in the NBA, the Pelicans, born as the Hornets, have seven Playoff appearances in their 20-year history.

They have won two series', sweeping the Portland Trailblazers in 2018 and winning 4-1 against the Dallas Mavericks in 2008.

A Playoff appearance, let alone a championship, does not appear imminent for the Pelicans, unfortunately.


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