As an NBA fan, there is nothing worse than watching a boring basketball game. Every few years we get lucky to witness a team that displays an absurd amount of showmanship on the court; a current example is “The Lob City” Clippers. In a sport that is played at a fast pace, we have seen teams throughout the years elevating the excitement on the court. I counted down the most exciting teams in NBA history.
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10. Golden State Warriors (We Believe) – 2006-07
Main Players: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, Matt Barnes, Jason Richardson and Al Harrington
This Warriors team was probably one of the most dysfunctional teams in history, but this group put on an offensive display every night. Under Don Nelson, a firm believer in playing without a playbook, the team was free to do whatever they wanted. The group had a dynamic backcourt with Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Monta Ellis and had made a great trade during the midseason to receive huge benefactors in forwards Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. Their offense put up 106 points per game in the regular season but they also had an atrocious defense, giving up 107 points per game, ranking dead last in the league that season.
They make this list primarily because of their outing during the 2007 Playoffs when they pulled off a David and Goliath upset against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs, led by Dirk Nowitzki, were the No. 1 team in the Western Conference with a franchise record 67 wins. After 12 straight seasons without a playoff appearance, the Warriors finished eighth in the conference and came prepared to play Dallas. The fans at Oracle Arena created one of the most memorable hostile environments following the “We Believe” slogan (the equivalent to the 12th man for the Superbowl champs, the Seahawks). The Warriors would go on to win the series 4-2, pulling off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. In the second round against the Utah Jazz, Baron Davis threw down one of the most ferocious dunks in playoff history on Andrei Kirilenko. The team would unfortunately lose the series but their determination and hope was incredible.
9. Dallas Mavericks â€“ Early 2000s
Main Players: Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Michael Finley
Back-to-back teams for Don Nelson on this list and I am afraid he is not done. The trio of Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki created an offensive explosion early in the new millennium. When the team was sold to billionaire Marc Cuban, the team took off. Cuban has always been a fan favorite due to his antics but was the best person to promote Mavericks basketball to the world.
The year 2000 was their first exciting season together when Nash and Nowitzki finally broke out, leading the team to win 53 games but losing in the semis to the Spurs. In 2002, the team went on to have their best season together, starting 14-0 and finishing with an outstanding 60-22 record. They finished first in scoring per night but second-to-last in defense. The team seemed bound to go to the championship and reached the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs. But Dirk Nowitzki hurt his knee, which resulted in him missing the rest of the series. The Mavericks lost in six games and their best chance to win that year. The next year the team kept up their offensive surge but fell short in the playoffs again. Everyone knows the rest of the story: Nash leaves to the Suns, becomes a two-time MVP and the Mavs win their first championship in 2011.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (Lob City) â€“ 2011-Present
Main Players: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford
When Chris Paul came to the Clippers in 2011, he changed the culture of a team that had an awful run in the NBA. Playing in the background of the Lakers, whom they share an arena with, the Clippers found a new identity and a fresh start with Lob City. Just peep Blake Griffin’s and DeAndre Jordan’s reaction when they found out CP3 was going to be their teammate.
As soon as the trade happened we all sensed what was about to go down. Paul, arguably the best passer in the game, throwing lobs to Blake and Jordan was a match made in Heaven.
In their first season together (CP3 was acquired in December of 2011), the team brought excitement. Timothy Mozgov had already been dunked on and then Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol all got dunked on really bad by Blake Griffin in the first few months. The team, however, was swept in the semifinals against the Spurs. The next season they signed another showman on the court in Jamal Crawford to become their sixth man. The team steadily approved for a franchise record in wins for 56 and finished first in the Pacific Division for the first time in franchise history. The team failed expectations and lost to the Grizzlies in the first round, which led to the decision to oust head coach Vinny Del Negro.
The team hired Doc Rivers to put a philosophy on defense, indicating it was time to be serious. As bad as Blake Griffin tried to denounce the nickname of “Lob City” before this season, it is never going away.
7. Golden State Warriors (Run TMC) â€“ Early 1990s
Main Players: Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway
I promise this is the last featured Don Nelson team but this guy was legendary and understood a way to excite fans. The trio of Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway in the Bay Area created a high-octane offense giving them the nickname, Run TMC. This team ran people off the court and embodied an incredible fun environment to watch. Tim Hardaway devastated defenders with the killer crossover, as Mitch Richmond was a physical scoring specimen and Chris Mullin was the silky smooth lefty whose jumpshot was as pure as it got. The group was short-lived but their legacy is still very popular.
6. Seattle SuperSonics – early-to-mid-90s
Main Players: Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp
Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp are one of the most exciting duos to ever step on a court. The first real “Lob City” in the NBA, the Glove and the Reign Man made the Sonics one of the best teams in the NBA during the 1995-96 season, winning 64 games under coach George Karl. With a supporting cast of Detlef Schrempf, Sam Perkins and Hersey Hawkins, the team picked the wrong time to be great, meeting MJ in his prime coming off a record season during the NBA Finals.
5. Sacramento Kings (The Greatest Show On Court) â€“ 1998-2003
Main Players: Chris Webber, Jason Williams, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, Mike Bibby and Doug Christie
This was definitely one of the best teams to never win an NBA championship. They had all of the right pieces but things never worked out. In the beginning, the pairing of Jason Williams and Chris Webber was one of the most exciting duos to watch in the league. J-Dub was the flashiest point guard in the league and his passes and ballhandling were ridiculous. To just give an idea of what White Chocolate was doing in the league, peep the video below.
The Kings led the NBA in scoring and were shown on television almost every game for their electrifying show. However, despite their exciting tenure together, the Kings traded Williams to Vancouver in a move to bring in Mike Bibby. Bibby provided more stability at the point guard position and he was just what the team needed to take them to the next level. The Kings put together their franchise best season in 200102, going 61-21 for first in the Pacific Division. The whole starting five averaged double-figures. Chris Webber had his best season; Peja Stojakovic became one of the deadliest shooters the league ever saw and Mike Bibby flourished in his first season. Then a classic playoff matchup against the Lakers featuring Shaq and Kobe happened. The series went to seven games and provided the best thrillers ever. The Kings’ dreams fell short and one of the greatest teams declined from then on.
4. Phoenix Suns (Seven Seconds or Less) – 2004â€“06
Main Players: Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, Quentin Richardson and Leandro Barbosa
The 2004-06 Phoenix Suns had the green light under head coach Mike D’Antoni. This team had so much firepower in their offensive with Steve Nash leading the way. Nash went on to win two MVPs, becoming the first point guard to win the award twice since Magic Johnson. In his first MVP season during 2004-05, Nash went off and had one of the efficient seasons for a point guard, averaging 11.5 assists per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and connecting on more than 43 percent of his three-pointers. Amar’e Stoudemire was dominant, averaging 26 points a night along with nine rebounds. Shawn Marion was also an All-Star and D’Antoni won Coach of the Year. The team had a franchise record of 62 wins but lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Spurs. The next season the group was disturbed by trades and the injury to Stoudemire but still performed well and finished with a 54-28 record, losing to Nash’s former team, the Dallas Mavericks, in the Western Conference Finals.
3. Los Angeles Lakers â€“ 1999-2002
Main Players: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Glen Rice and Robert Horry
Shaq and Kobe will go down as the most dominant duo in NBA history. There was nothing like the two of them. In the early years, the group showed promise but it wasn’t until Phil Jackson took over as head coach and brought in the triangle offense. Shaq was a force and was in his prime paired with Kobe, who was the game’s brightest star. In Jackson’s first season coaching, the team won 67 games and won their first championship. The next two seasons the squad won two more championships, playing in some of the best playoff matches in modern NBA history.
2. Chicago Bulls â€“ 1995-96
Main Players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr and Luc Longley
The Chicago Bulls dynasty in the ’90s is without a doubt one of the greatest teams in NBA history. During the 1995-96 season, which was Jordan’s first full season playing since his retirement, the Bulls dominated and put together a league record of 72 wins in a season, a record that still stands that I cannot see being broken unless another superstar goes to the Heat.
While MJ was playing some of the best basketball of his life, it was Dennis Rodman, who they acquired during the offseason, that was the team’s x-factor. Known for his off-the-court exploits, Rodman won his fifth-straight rebounding title and averaged 14.9 boards a game. He did everything you want a role player to do. MJ came back from his retirement with a better jump shot, which was scary. He won his eighth scoring title, averaging 30 points per game.
Many players like Scottie Pippen would not have taken the step back after being the man the previous seasons when MJ was gone. Pippen had a great season, along with Kukoc coming off the bench and being a threat. Ron Harper was a defensive force and Steve Kerr came off the bench to shoot the lights out.
They led the NBA in scoring with 105.2 points per game and had the third-ranked defense. They won an exciting NBA Finals matchup with the Seattle Sonics. After the season, the team was honored as many individuals left with some hardware–MJ’s trifecta of MVPs (regular season, ASG and Finals); Pippen named All-NBA First Team; Kukoc was Sixth Man; Dennis Rodman All-Defensive team and Phil Jackson Coach of the Year. There will never be a more complete team in NBA history.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (Showtime) â€“ 1979-1991
Main Players: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis
The Los Angeles Lakers Showtime era played a huge role in three different decades. The Lakers, led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, are the most exciting team in NBA history with their on-the-court theatrics. The team was known for their fast-paced offense with Magic and they won five championships during their era. Playing in front of Hollywood celebrities and in the bright lights, the Forum was the most exciting place to play for an NBA player. Led by head coach Pat Riley and owner Jerry Buss, the entertainment on and off the court was the best it can get. The Showtime Lakers are the most exciting team to ever play the game.
Who do you think was the most underrated electrifying team of all time?
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