Texans love their sports. Thousands of passionate fans pack out stadiums and arenas to cheer on their teams at virtually every level, from high school to professional. While most people associate Texas with football, there’s no shortage of basketball fans in the Lone Star State.
There are currently three NBA teams from Texas: the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs. Interestingly, each team has experienced success through the years, winning multiple championships. Only California and Massachusetts have more basketball championships than Texas.
NBA Teams From Texas
Basketball fans in Texas are truly blessed, with three top-class NBA franchises, multiple high-level college teams, as well as WNBA and G League squads. Moreover, the NBA teams are based in different cities so you can follow your local franchises wherever you live.
In total, Texas NBA teams have won 12 championships. California (20) and Massachusetts (17) are the only states in the country with more. This isn’t really a surprise when you consider they’re home to the Lakers and Celtics, two of the nation’s most storied teams.
In the past decade, the NBA, and in particular, the Western Conference, has been dominated by the Golden State Warriors. However, prior to the Steph Curry era, the Spurs and Mavericks were perennial contenders. Currently, all the Texas teams are in rebuilding phases but success may soon be around the corner again.
That said, there is plenty of talent in Texas and a lot of fantastic fans. Each franchise has a unique story and has provided memorial moments for followers. So, let’s take a look at each team in more detail, zoning in on their history and eras of success.
Texas NBA Teams Championship Records
|Team||Conference Titles||NBA Championships||NBA Championship Years|
|San Antonio Spurs||6||5||1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014|
|Houston Rockets||4||2||1994, 1995|
San Antonio Spurs
Former franchise names: Dallas Chaparrals (1967-70), Texas Chaparrals (1970-71), San Antonio Gunslingers (1973)
Home arena: AT&T Center
Home City: San Antonio, Texas
The San Antonio Spurs franchise was established in 1967 and has gone on to become one of the best and most storied in the NBA. The Spurs are the fifth most successful team in the league, having won five titles. Furthermore, from 2002 to 2007, they enjoyed one of the most dominant reigns in the NBA.
The Spurs began their professional basketball journey in Dallas as the Chaparrals. Part of the American Basketball Association (ABA) until the 1976 merger with the NBA, the franchise was first called the Dallas Chaparrals, then the Texas Chaparrals, and eventually, the San Antonio Spurs.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, the Spurs were usually quite competitive and won several divisional titles. However, they could never make it through the playoffs and into championship contention. As the 90s approached, the Spurs went through a slump period that last four seasons before they recruited David Robinson.
The Twin Towers
The acquisition of Robinson turned the tide for the Spurs in the 90s, shifting them into a winning team. However, they couldn’t make it past the elusive Conference Finals. In 1997, the Spurs endured a horrible season, where injuries led them to a 20-62 losing season. Yet, this proved to be a win in the long run.
After finishing as one of the worst teams in the league, the Spurs won the draft lottery, allowing them to draft Tim Duncan with the first overall pick. Duncan and Robinson dominated from the get-go and quickly became known as the “Twin Towers”. However, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls were still the NBA’s elite team.
After the Bull’s second threepeat of the decade, Jordan re-retired in 1998, paving the way for a new era. In 1999, under the guidance of coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs finally won an NBA championship. They beat the New York Nicks in the Finals with Tim Duncan picking up the Finals MVP.
The Big Three Era
The new-look Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, won three championships on the bounce from 2000 to 2002. However, by the end of this reign, the Spurs still had Robinson, Duncan, and rising stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. This team worked wonders under Hall of Fame coach, Gregg Popovich.
Ahead of the 2003 season, Robinson announced that he would retire. By now, he was no longer the same force as he was in the 90s. But, the Spurs now had more options. They finished the regular season with a joint-best record of 60-22 and Tim Duncan picked up his second consecutive NBA MVP.
In the Playoffs, the Spurs clinched every series in six games, including the Finals against the New Jersey Nets. Again, Duncan was the hero and earned a second Finals MVP. From 2003 to 2007, the Spurs were a force offensively and defensively, and picked up two more championships (2005 and 2007).
Duncan collected his third Finals MVP in 2005 while Tony Parker was awarded his first in 2007. Over the next decade, Spurs would set an NBA record for 14 consecutive seasons with at least 50 wins. However, they failed to reach the Finals again until 2013, when they lost against the Miami Heat.
In 2014, they got their revenge on the Heat, beating them 4-1 in a virtually flawless Finals series. Guarding Lebron James in the Finals, a new star was born in Kawhi Leonard who won the MVP trophy. This was the last Finals appearance for the Spurs as the Golden State Warriors era began.
Post Tim Duncan
Although the Spurs remained competitive for several seasons following their last championship, they failed to reach the Finals again. In 2020, they finished the regular season outside the Playoff spots for the first time since 1997. The franchise is currently rebuilding in an attempt to get back to where they once were.
Home arena: American Airlines Center
Home City: Dallas, Texas
The Dallas Mavericks arrived on the scene in 1980. After a rocky start in the NBA, they improved significantly through the 80s, making the Playoffs multiple times and even featuring in the Conference Finals in 1988. However, following their seven-game loss to Magic Johnson’s Lakers, the Mavs lost their way.
The 1990s proved to be a bad decade for Dallas until the 1998-99 season when they drafted German forward, Dirk Nowitzki, and recruited elite point guard, Steve Nash. These acquisitions were swiftly followed by a franchise takeover by famed digital entrepreneur, Mark Cuban.
The Cuban Turnaround
Cuban invested heavily in the team and its facilities, turning the Mavericks into a desirable franchise. They were one of the strongest teams in the league after the turn of the millennium, routinely competing in the Playoffs. Despite losing Steve Nash in 2004, the Mavs reached their first NBA Finals in 2006.
Facing off against the Miami Heat, the Mavericks had the perfect advantage, taking the first two games of the series. With the third game seemingly all but over, Miami’s young superstar, Dwyane Wade led a magical comeback, to give the Heat their first victory of the Finals.
Things went from bad to worse for Dallas and they struggled to regain the form of their opening two games. Miami eventually ran out as 4-2 winners in the series, making Dallas the first team since 1977 to blow a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
Over the next five seasons, Mavericks fans retained hope but were continually disappointed as they crashed out in the Playoffs from 07 to 10. However, with the talismanic Nowitzki and All-Star point guard, Jason Kidd, Dallas came through the Western Conference in 2011.
They would have a shot at redemption against their old foes, the Miami Heat. At the time, Miami had formed a big three like never seen before, with All-Stars Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh. And after Miami clinched Game 1, most fans believed the rest of the series was a forgone conclusion.
However, Nowitzki and Co had other plans. Showing resilience, grit, and class over the subsequent games, Dallas eventually won the series 4-2. Nowitzki took home the Finals MVP trophy and the Mavericks got their redemption with Rick Carlisle as head coach.
Although the Mavericks were competitive in various seasons after their title berth, they struggled to make any significant impact. Dirk Nowitzki retired at the end of the 2018-19 season, the same year the Mavs brought in European star, Luka Dončić in a trade deal during the draft.
Much like Nowitzki after his arrival, Dončić had a profound influence on the team, leading them to their first Conference Finals since 2011 in the 2021-22 season. However, they fell 4-1 to the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors. The Mavs failed to make the Playoffs the following season.
Former franchise names: San Diego Rockets (1967-71)
Home arena: Toyota Arena
Home City: Houston, Texas
The Houston Rockets were founded in San Diego in 1967. After four losing seasons, they relocated to Houston where they eventually found success after trading for Hall of Famer, Moses Malone during the 1976-77 season. Malone led the Rockets to their first Conference Finals that year, although they ultimately came up short.
In the 1980-81 season, the Rockets almost pulled off one of the most remarkable feats in NBA history. Despite finishing the regular season with a losing record (40-42), Houston made it to the Playoffs. As clear underdogs, they managed to beat all their Western Conference foes (Lakers, Spurs, and Kings) to reach the NBA Finals.
Facing off against Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics, the Rockets put up a fight but eventually lost in six games. Boston went on to win two more NBA titles that decade, defeating the Rockets once again in 1986. Although, in the meantime, the Rockets had drafted top prospect, Hakeem Olajuwon.
Hakeem The Dream
Olajuwon fast became one of the league’s most dominant forces. In addition to being a strong scorer, Hakeen was also a defensive enforcer and an excellent shot blocker. However, following their Finals loss in 1986, the NBA was dominated by the Lakers, the Pistons, and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
After the Bull’s first threepeat, from 1991-94, Jordan took a two-year layoff to pursue baseball. During this time, Olajuwon really came into his own and put up the best statistics of his career. In the 1993-94 season, he earned league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors as Houston amassed 58 wins in the regular season.
That year, the Rockets breezed their way to the Conference Semi-Finals. After being labeled “Choke City” for blowing the first two games against Charles Barkley’s Phoenix Suns, Houston rallied and eventually won the series in seven games. Their new moniker quickly became “Clutch City” as they defeated Utah in the Conference Finals.
Another thrilling series ensued in the NBA Finals as the Rockets came back from 3-2 down to defeat the New York Nicks in seven games. Hakeem was named NBA Finals MVP.
Back to Back
After a slow start to the season, a championship repeat seemed unlikely for the Rockets in 1994-95. However, they managed to clinch a Playoff spot with just 47 wins as the sixth seed in the west. In the playoffs, they faced multiple 50-win teams, including the Jazz, Suns, and Spurs, defeating all of them to reach the Finals.
In their second consecutive NBA Finals, Houston faced the Orlando Magic, with All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway at the helm. Although each of the games was close, Houston swept the Magic in four games and became the first team to win an NBA title as the sixth seed. Once again, Hakeem Olajuwon was named Finals MVP.
Since their back-to-back championships, the Rockets have never appeared in the NBA Finals. However, they have had several good seasons, winning multiple divisional titles, especially in the 2010s with elite guard, James Harden, leading the team. But ultimately, Rockets fans have had to endure the success of their state rivals.
Although they haven’t won in some time, the Rockets are regarded by many as the most popular NBA team in Texas. Some of their other most notable players include:
- Tracy McGrady
- Yao Ming
- Clyde Drexler
- Steve Francis
- Kenny Smith
- Robert Horry
- Dikembe Mutombo
- Kevin McHale
- Charles Barkley
Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.