NBA Franchise Index

by Billy Kingsley - 8 cards (Last updated on Nov. 22, 2017)

1. 1994-95 Hoops #420 NBA Logo Card

The NBA recognizes 1946 as it's foundation date. That is when the BAA was founded, which stands for Basketball Association of America. The records from this league are counted in the official NBA records and the champions are recognized as NBA champions. The NBA name came into existence in 1948 when the BAA and NBL, National Basketball League, merged. This league's records and champions are not counted as part of the NBA's records, even though most if the players and teams were now part of the NBA, even if just for a brief time. This earlier league was founded in 1935 and there were no cards ever issued for this league. As such, I cannot cover them in this list. Several of the teams still exist in the NBA and will be noted in their entries.

There are several early teams that do not have a single known card. The early days of the NBA were not well covered in card form. Unlike the other major ball sports, the NBA did not get a yearly card set until 1969-70. Only three standalone sets were issued before then, and some promotional issues also exist.

The Toronto Huskies must be listed first, as they hosted the first BAA game, playing in the Toronto Maple Leafs arena, a loss to the New York Knicks. The team lasted only that first year, before folding. The NBA would not have a team outside the USA until 1995. The Toronto Raptors would wear the Huskies uniforms as throwbacks in 1996 and 2016-17. They won 22 games and lost 38.

The Pittsburgh Iron Men played in only 1946-47. They compiled a 15-45 record.
The Detroit Falcons also played in only 1946-47. This team used unusually high numbers, with several jersey numbers being worn by this team only and never again. They had a 20-40 record.
The Cleveland Rebels are the fourth and final team that did not survive the inaugural season. They both won and lost 30 games and made the playoffs in their only season.

The Anderson Packers (37-27), first Denver Nuggets (11-51), Sheboygan Red Skins (22-40), and Waterloo Hawks (19-43) all came into the league and played only one season, 1949-50, as part of the merger with the NBL. Several of these teams then split off and played in other leagues, and some folded. None of them survive today.

The Tri-Cities Blackhawks played 1949-50 and 1950-51, the only team with no cards* that played more than one year. Yes, there were two teams with Hawks in the name during the 1949-50 season. The Tri-Cities Blackhawks would eventually become the Atlanta Hawks. As Tri-Cities, they won 54 and lost 72.

For the rest of this list, the teams will be listed in chronological order of joining the league, with teams joining in multiple years listed in order of shortest to longest duration.

2. 1948 Bowman #22 Earl Shannon

The Providence Steamrollers were the first franchise to fold not related to the BAA/NBL merger, The only team to ever play in Rhode Island, they were in operation from 1946-47 through 1948-49. The only cards ever issued for the team are in the 1948-49 Bowman set. They won 46 games, but lost 122, over their three year history, never making the playoffs.

3. 1948 Bowman #31 Chuck Gilmur

The Chicago Stags were the first of three teams (using 4 names) to play in the city. They were one of the original teams of 1946-47 but folded after the 1949-50 season. They actually had a winning record over their 4 seasons in the BAA/NBA, winning 145 games and losing only 92. They made the playoffs all four seasons they were active.

4. 1948 Bowman #28 Don Putman

The St. Louis Bombers appear to have worn sleeved jerseys, as shown in this image. Every other image I've seen of the team also shows sleeves, although that's not many images. Like the Stags, they played from 1946-47 through 1949-50, and also had a winning record, winning 122 games but losing 115. They made the playoffs during three of their four seasons.

5. 1948 Bowman #46 Bones McKinney

The Washington Capitols were the first team to play in the Nation's capitol, and lasted 5 seasons, from 1946-47 through 1950-51. They too had a winning record, winning 157 games and losing 114, making the playoffs four out of their five years in existence. They are not related to the current Washington franchise, nor the teams in other sports that use the same name.

6. 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends - Epic Milestones #EM4 Wilt Chamberlain

The Philadelphia Warriors are one of only three teams still in the NBA that were part of the BAA's inaugural season of 1946-47, they are the only one to have changed locations. The team played 16 years in Philadelphia, putting up 558 wins to 545 losses, making the playoffs a dozen times and winning two BAA/NBA Championships, including the first in 1946-47. They played in Philadelphia up through the 1961-62 season.

7. 1975-76 Topps #55 Walt Frazier

The New York Knickerbockers are one of the original teams, and have played more than 70 years in New York City. The only team which uses an abbreviation of the actual name, the Knicks have played, at the time of this writing on 11/22/17, 5573 games, winning 2741 of them, and losing 2832. They have made the playoffs 42 times, and have won two NBA Championships. The playoff struggles and tribulations of the Knicks is one of the long-time talking points among NBA fans.

8. 1996-97 Topps Stars #40 Bill Russell

The Boston Celtics jersey designs are the oldest in the sport, dating to the Original Celtics, which ironically played out of Madison Square Garden, later home of the New York Knicks, a major rival of the Celtics. The most successful franchise in NBA history, the Celtics have played 5578 games (the most in NBA history), winning 3290 of them, which is also the most of any team. They have only lost 2288 games in that time. (As of 11/22/17) They have made the playoffs 54 times, (a record for a team/city combination, second overall) and won 17 BAA/NBA championships, the most in the history of the sport. (Per Wikipedia, that is 24.1% of all NBA history)


Nov. 24, 2017 - 10:36AM

Since I'm not big on the NBA, I never knew there were cards for St. Louis Bombers.  I'll have to look for one when/if I ever do anything with my Missouri Sports History blog.  I can't wait to see this list updated, this if very interesting.

Nov. 24, 2017 - 7:01PM

Cool list Billy 

Leave a Comment

Log in or register to add leave a comment.

User Name:
  Remember Me

Create a List

You can create your own lists under Your Lists.

Your Collection

You have 0 of these cards in your collection.


This list was created by site member Billy Kingsley. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Trading Card Database.


Copyright © 2018 The Trading Card Database LLC
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.