The Miami Heat will meet the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. The matchup will ensure that there will still be only 9 different franchises who have won an NBA championship since 1980.
The NBA’s lack of parity is found nowhere else in the 4 major sports. In the same time-span, there have been 20 different World Series Champions in Major League Baseball. The NHL has had 16 different Stanley Cup Champions and the NFL has had 15 different franchises win at least one Super Bowl.
Here is the select group of franchises who have won championships since 1980:
|NBA Titles Since 1980|
With such an exclusive group of teams, simply reaching the Finals is often viewed as a major accomplishment.
Expanding to include any franchise that has reached the NBA Finals since 1980 - the pool increases by a factor of 2 with 66 Finals participants spread across 18 different franchises:
|NBA Finals Since 1980|
And of course, that means there are 12 franchises who haven’t reached the NBA Finals since 1980.
Here are the 12 teams who have failed to reach the Finals in the past 34 seasons, with expansion franchises noted in parentheses:
|No NBA Finals Since 1980|
To me, this further exemplifies the many frustrations that are associated with being an NBA fan. (And by “fan” I mean “supporter or follower” not “bandwagon jumper“ a.k.a. “Heat fans“). You have followings of 70% of the league who haven’t tasted a championship in over 30 years (if at all) and 40% of the league who hasn’t even reached the ultimate stage in that same time span.
To say there has been an imbalance of power would be an understatement. Nevertheless, we continue to cheer, watch 82 games per year, follow the standings, follow free agent signings and even obsess over pre-draft workouts. This is how the NBA can bring people together. Individuals across the world are united by a common entity, and the bond formed is much stronger than a simple piggybacking on success or fads. You’re united by failures, by frustrations, by unforgettable moments and by hope. Any success - big or small – is appreciated and NBA seasons don’t fade and blend together with a binary “success or failure” declaration based upon the end result. They’re judged on effort, by the ability to maximize results based off resources and by progressing step-by-step toward one day obtaining that elusive title.
I don’t know when a 10th team will join the “Elite 9,” but for the sake of 70% of the league’s fanbases - I hope it’s soon.