Dennis Johnson led Seattle to its only NBA title in 1978-79 and the Sonics made eight-straight playoff appearances in the `90s with Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, but new ownership and the NBA's smallest arena have made Kevin Durant and Co. the latest NBA team to relocate, moving to Oklahoma City.
2 of 14Heinz Kluetmeier/SI, Greg Nelson/SI
Larry Johnson (left) and Glen Rice got the Hornets to the playoffs in seven of the team's 14 seasons in Charlotte, but rapidly declining attendance sent the team to New Orleans -- with a brief stint playing home games in Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina -- where the team reached the second round of the playoffs last season behind Chris Paul.
3 of 14David E. Klutho/SI, Greg Nelson/SI
The Grizzlies never won more than 23 games in five seasons with Mike Bibby (left) and Shareef Abdur-Rahim north of the border, but made three straight playoff appearances from 2004-06 with Pau Gasol and new GM Jerry West in Memphis.
4 of 14AP, Robert Beck/SI
One of the NBA's 17 charter members, the franchise won its lone championship, led by Bob Davies (left), in 1951 as the Rochester Royals before moving to Cincinnati, Kansas City, and finally Sacramento, where the Kings missed the postseason in 11 of their first 13 seasons before Chris Webber and Mike Bibby helped the team to eight straight playoffs.
5 of 14Walter Iooss Jr./SI, Manny Millan/SI
Bob McAdoo earned league MVP honors with the Buffalo Braves in the 1974-75 season, but Bill Walton was never able to lead the team to the playoffs in San Diego. The Clippers have made the playoffs just four times in 25 seasons in Los Angeles.
6 of 14Tony Triolo/SI, John W. McDonough/SI
Despite an out-of-place nickname, the Jazz saw a marked improvement in Utah after five losing seasons with Pete Maravich in New Orleans. The Jazz have had only one losing record since the 1983-84 season, with Karl Malone and John Stockton leading the team to the playoffs in 22 of 25 seasons.
7 of 14Walter Iooss Jr./SI, Rick Stewart/Getty Images
In the 1977 offseason the Nets made a 63-mile move from Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, N.Y., to Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J., because owner Roy Boe made plans to have the team play in the Meadowlands Sports Complex once its construction was complete. Without their ABA star Julius "Dr. J" Erving, the Nets finished with the worst record in the NBA in both inaugural seasons before drafting rookie Buck Williams who helped increase their total wins by 20 in 1981 to give the Nets their first season over .500 with a 44-38 record.
8 of 14James Drake/SI, Manny Millan/SI
Having terrible records in Chicago, the team moved to Baltimore where it saw gradual improvement. It wasn't until moving to Landover, MD in the greater Washington, D.C. area that it saw true success, eventually winning the NBA championship in the 1977-78 season behind future Hall of Famers Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.
9 of 14Sheedy & Long, Manny Millan/SI
Originally named the Rockets because San Diego called itself the "City of Motion," low performance and attendance forced the Rockets to be sold and moved to Texas, where the name took on a more relevant meaning. Despite being led by Calvin Murphy and future Hall-of Fame coaches Pay Riley and Rudy Tomjanovich in San Diego, the Rockets had a then-NBA record 67 losses in their inaugural season followed by two playoff-less seasons. Without their own stadium in Texas, the Rocket's move was rough -- they played one game in Waco in front of 759 fans. The broadcast crew used taped crowd noise. Later, with the first pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, the Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon (over Michael Jordan) who marked a new era in Rockets history.
10 of 14John G. Zimmerman/SI, Walter Iooss Jr./SI
While in Philadelphia in 1962 Wilt Chamberlain scored a NBA-record 100 points, but was then moved West when ownership changed. In their first season in San Francisco, the Warriors lost to the Celtics in the NBA Championship and their record started going downhill from there before eventually moving to nearby Oakland where they won their only West Coast championship in the 1974-75 season, led by Rick Barry.
11 of 14AP, Icon Sports Media
Despite winning the 1955 NBA Championship under Dolph Schayes, the Syracuse Nationals were struggling financially in mid-sized Syracuse and moved to Philadelphia. After moving, the 76ers picked up legendary Wilt Chamberlain and by the 1966-1967 season they had the best record in league history at 68-13.
12 of 14AP, Manny Millan/SI
A charter NBA member, the Hawks moved from Iowa to Milwaukee to St. Louis (with star player Bob Pettit) to Atlanta, where Dominique Wilkins led the franchise to the postseason eight times in 11 seasons before the Hawks suffered an eight-year playoff drought.
13 of 14AP, John W. McDonough/SI
With attendance falling in Minneapolis and the proven financial success of the Brooklyn Dodgers' move to Los Angeles, the Lakers headed to California before the 1960-1961 season to become the NBA's first West Coast team. Whether in Minneapolis with George Mikan or in Los Angeles with Baylor, West, Chamberlain, Magic, Shaq and Kobe, winning has always been part of the Lakers' agenda.
14 of 14Hy Peskin/SI, Malcolm Emmons/US PRESSWIRE
Having gained a strong fan base in Fort Wayne with help from rebounder Mel Hutch (left), owner and founder Fred Zollner, who had made his fortune in the automotive industry, moved the Pistons to Detroit to help the team better compete with bigger markets such as Philadelphia, Boston, and New York and be closer to his business. Coming off two consecutive NBA Finals appearances while in Fort Wayne, the Pistons started poorly in Detroit. (Bob Lanier pictured)
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!