How Many NBA Teams Were There in 1960?

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 8 Min Read
8 Min Read

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has long been a beacon of basketball excellence, showcasing talent, sportsmanship, and the spirit of competition at the highest levels. Its evolution from a fledgling league to a global sports phenomenon is a testament to its enduring appeal and the visionary individuals who have shaped its destiny. In 1960, the NBA was at a pivotal juncture, navigating the waters of expansion and innovation while honoring the traditions that made it a beloved institution. This article takes a closer look at the NBA teams in 1960, offering insights into the league’s structure, the teams that competed, and the significance of this era in the broader context of NBA history.

The NBA Teams in 1960: A Snapshot

In 1960, the NBA comprised eight teams, a number that reflects the league’s modest beginnings but also underscores the quality and competitiveness that defined its early years. These teams included:

  • Boston Celtics
  • New York Knicks
  • Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors)
  • Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers)
  • St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks)
  • Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers)
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings)

Each team brought its unique flair and playing style to the court, contributing to a rich tapestry of basketball history and laying the groundwork for the league’s future expansion.


Significance of the 1960 NBA Season

The 1960-61 NBA season was marked by remarkable achievements and notable milestones. The Boston Celtics, led by the legendary Bill Russell, clinched their third consecutive NBA title, defeating the St. Louis Hawks in the Finals. This season also witnessed the relocation of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, a move that heralded the beginning of a new era for the franchise and the league at large. Moreover, the expansion of the NBA schedule from 75 to 79 games per team indicated the league’s commitment to growth and increased competition.

The season was also notable for the performances of iconic players such as Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors, who dominated the league in scoring, and rookie Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals, who made an immediate impact by winning the All-Star Game MVP. These athletes not only showcased extraordinary talent but also contributed to the evolution of the game, influencing future generations of players.

Legacy and Impact

Reflecting on the NBA teams in 1960 offers more than a mere historical account; it provides a lens through which to appreciate the league’s profound transformation. The journey from eight teams to the current 30 is a narrative of expansion, innovation, and globalization, mirroring societal shifts and technological advancements. The NBA’s ability to adapt and thrive amidst change while preserving the essence of competitive basketball is a key aspect of its legacy.

Moreover, the 1960 season embodies the spirit of an era that set the stage for the modern NBA. It was a time of legends, foundational rivalries, and the emergence of basketball as a major American sport. The stories of these teams and players resonate with fans even today, serving as a reminder of the NBA’s rich heritage and its role in shaping the cultural landscape.

Expansion and Relocation: A New Era for the NBA

The years following 1960 marked a period of dynamic change for the NBA. The league expanded beyond its original eight teams, introducing new franchises to capture the hearts of fans across the United States and, eventually, the world. Notable additions included the Chicago Bulls in 1966, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns in 1968, and several others that followed, enriching the league with fresh talent and rivalries.

Relocation also played a crucial role in shaping the league’s geographic landscape. The Minneapolis Lakers’ move to Los Angeles in 1960 heralded a new beginning for the franchise and underscored the NBA’s appeal in major markets. Other teams, like the Syracuse Nationals becoming the Philadelphia 76ers and the St. Louis Hawks moving to Atlanta, further exemplified this trend, creating new fanbases and changing the league’s demographic makeup.

Technological Innovations and Global Outreach

The advent of television and, later, the internet, revolutionized how fans engaged with the NBA. Broadcasting deals, beginning with the NBA’s partnership with NBC in 1960, brought games into living rooms across America, increasing visibility and fostering a deeper connection with the sport. The digital age, with the rise of social media and streaming services, expanded the NBA’s reach globally, allowing fans from all corners of the globe to follow their favorite teams and players in real-time.

The NBA’s strategic marketing efforts, including global preseason games and the establishment of the NBA Global Games series, have been instrumental in cultivating a worldwide audience. The league’s embrace of international players has also enriched the NBA, making it a melting pot of cultures and playing styles, and enhancing its appeal as a global sport.

Cultural Impact and Social Responsibility

The NBA’s influence extends far beyond the confines of the basketball court. Throughout its history, the league and its players have been at the forefront of social and cultural movements. Figures like Bill Russell, who was active during the civil rights movement, and more recently, LeBron James and the NBA’s collective response to social justice issues, highlight the league’s commitment to leveraging its platform for positive change.

The NBA has also been a pioneer in fostering diversity and inclusion within sports, breaking down racial barriers and advocating for equality. Its global initiatives, community outreach programs, and support for various causes reflect the league’s broader mission to impact society positively.

Final Thoughts: The NBA’s Ongoing Legacy

From its humble beginnings in 1960 with just eight teams, the NBA has transformed into a global sports leader, renowned for its competitive excellence, cultural impact, and commitment to social responsibility. The league’s ability to adapt and innovate, coupled with its dedication to fostering a deep connection with fans around the world, continues to drive its popularity and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many NBA teams were there in 1970?

There were 17 NBA teams in 1970.

How many NBA teams were there in 1965?

There were 9 NBA teams in 1965.

What were the 8 original NBA teams?

The 8 original NBA teams were:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Chicago Stags
  3. New York Knicks
  4. Philadelphia Warriors
  5. Providence Steamrollers
  6. St. Louis Bombers
  7. Toronto Huskies
  8. Washington Capitols

Were there 32 NBA teams?

No, there are currently 30 NBA teams.

When did the NBA have 30 teams?

The NBA had 30 teams starting in the 2004-2005 season with the addition of the Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte Hornets).

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