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Best NBA Records of All Time

Publish Date: 04.06.2024
Fact checked by: Emily Carter

Winning in the NBA is hard. Winning consistently is even harder. There have been more than a few talented and successful teams throughout the league’s long run, but only the top of the top won enough games or scored enough points to cement themselves into the history books.

Record setting teams are quite rare in the NBA. While individual accolades switch over every now and then, team records categorized by criteria like wins and postseason dominance are some of the most untouchable.

That’s especially true given that every era in the NBA is different. Though the league has undergone many shifts, a few records are still unbroken to this day. Regardless of when a team played, that level of dominance is hard to deal with.

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1. 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors (73-9)

A decade ago, if you had asked someone for the most unbreakable record in the NBA, they likely would have said the 1995 Bulls’ 72-10 regular season finish. However, that incredible mark eventually fell to a truly remarkable Warriors team in 2015.

The squad, led by the incredible trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, started the season off incredibly strong and then, due to their sharpshooting talent and unmatched team chemistry, put together the greatest regular season of all time.

They never slowed down during their historic run and strung together a record that many now assume is unbreakable. Winning 73 games is incredibly difficult, especially in today’s highly-competitive age of rest days and frequent injuries.

In fact, the mark is so high that many consider that Warrior team to be the greatest of all time. The only hit against them is that they did fall in the Finals to Lebron James’ Cavaliers during a close game seven. Not winning it all does sting their legacy quite a bit.

2. 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls (72-10)

While the Warriors stole some of their glory, the 1995-96 Bulls are still widely considered to be the greatest team to ever play. That’s because, where the Warriors fell short of their championship goal, Chicago did not.

Led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls took the NBA by storm. They swept through anyone who stood in their way and put together a dominant season on their way to a then-league record 72-10.

Where the Warriors struggled or faltered at times during their historic run, the Bulls simply beat everyone who went against them with little struggle. Even once they entered the playoffs, they didn’t face much adversity.

They swept the Heat in round one, beat the Knicks 4-1 in round two, swept the Magic in round three, and then took home the Finals in six games. It was an incredibly easy postseason run that exemplified why they are still considered the best team of all time.

3. Other Notable Teams

There are many all time records in the NBA, especially when looking back at the early years. The league was much less competitive as it is now, which then led to many records being broken quite frequently. Wins, however, have always remained elusive.

To look at that, it’s important to consider the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers. Widely regarded as the best early team in the NBA, they put together a then-record 68 wins behind the best shooting percentage and highest points per game (125) in the entire league.

They were then dethroned by the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 69 games just three years later. It would then take more than 20 for that record to be broken, and ten for it to be broken again.

Such time gaps show just how difficult it is to have a truly amazing season. Winning games in the NBA is not easy, and it only gets more and more difficult as time goes on. Still, the above rosters were unquestionably the best for their era, and deserve their place in history.

Impact of Regular-Season Success on Postseason Performance

Almost all of the top teams who set the best NBA records of all time ran through the regular season and then completed their historic season with a trophy. That’s because dominance in the regular season typically leads to the same results in the postseason.

While it’s not always an indicator, as many times the team with the best regular season does not win the championship, there is a difference between a group who has the best record for a single season and one that’s so good they make it into history.

While the 2015-2016 Warrior fell short of their goal, that is an exception much more than the rule. Typically, if a team sets a win record in the regular season, they’re going to make it all the way. That’s one constant that links all of the record breaking teams from different decades.

Records and Streaks Within the Regular Season

The regular season win record has gone up and down a few times, but it’s not the only one that matters. When looking at the best NBA records of all time, it’s also critical to highlight continued success or long winning streaks as forms of truly special high-level play.

For instance, the 90’s Bulls didn’t just win 72 games and take home a championship, they won 69 games the following year on their way to another title. That back-to-back dominance is something no team, even the 2014 Warriors, have gotten close to.

Most of the time teams will have one historic year and then take the next one off or come back down to Earth. Even record setting teams that win back-to-back titles are not as strong in one of those seasons. The Bulls, however, broke that rule.

Another record that has stood the test of time is when the 1971 Lakers won 33 straight games. More than 40 years have passed since then, and still no team has gotten anywhere near that level of consistent dominance.

The 2015 Warriors did start their season with a historic 24-0, but even that record falls nine games short of what the Lakers achieved. A team may break it one day, but it’s hard to know exactly how and when such an instance could occur.

Conclusion

Every year, there is one best team in the NBA. However, one season of greatness doesn’t necessarily make history. Only a select few teams break records and achieve a level that no one else before or after them can match.

Individual NBA records rise and fall quite frequently, but team achievements tend to stay a long time because those require a whole team to play at an extremely high level for an extended period. Short dominance is easy. Long term results take a lot more focus.

Even today, with so much talent in the NBA, it’s hard to tell if any team might break or come close to breaking the above records. There is a lot of internal movement, but even squads that stay together face many obstacles. Only time will be able to tell.

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