Who Was/Is The Best NBA Team to Play In New York?

In an effort to draw attention to the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers have been known originally as the Syracuse Nationals, I present my argument for the Sixers being the best team to take NY. We talk about the Knicks and Nets but the Nats are my team. This past season, the Sixers let you know that they have been in Philly for 50 years. I was tired of the commercial by December. I love this team and everything about it. I was hype when they grabbed the 87ers. I’m waiting for a WNBA team.

And so, here we are. Of course, we need to know who has played in NY before. This is also going to be NBA so no ABA. If you’re not too keen on NBA history, this list may have a couple of surprises in store for you. The name they were known as in NY and then the current team name if changed is in ():

Nationals (76ers)

Nets (known as New York Nets in their lone NBA season in NY in the 70’s)


Braves (Clippers)

Royals (Kings)

That’s it. Five teams. You already know about the history of each team since I talked about their past/current time in NY. This is the final showdown between these teams to figure out which team was the best to ever play in the state. I got my money on the Nats but let’s look at each team. We’ll look at overall records and accomplishments during their time in New York.

To save time, here’s a post all about the Nationals that I posted earlier. So let’s start with the Nets.

As I mentioned earlier, they were in New York for only one season in the 70’s. To clarify and to remind, I am doing NBA. The Nets actually played in NY for a while but they were part of the ABA. So yeah. Of course, they returned to NY and are known as the Brooklyn Nets. In my research, the Nets were named to coincide with the Jets and Mets. So I actually wish the Nets were called “New York Nets” again. Oh well.

The Nets’ record in NY (and when I say “NY”, I mean state), is 71-93. Ouch. That’s two seasons. During these times, they made the playoffs once. That’s really it. They went 22-60 in 1976-77 but that was one year after winning the ABA title. But, that year was the last year in the ABA and so the Nets’ first year in the NBA didn’t go so well. It’s widely believed that the NBA had better talent than the ABA. Also, a certain Julius Erving was their superstar that they sold to the Sixers in order to make the move into the NBA. So that hurt them as well.
Next are probably the most popular or well known NY team, the Knicks. The Knicks have been in New York all this time but their first three years were of BAA so I’m going to exclude them. The Knicks have a record of 2559-2537. They have had some great moments and players in their history. They have been to the playoffs in 39 of their 65 seasons, winning the championship two times. They have won their division eight times. Their best record by win% is in both 1969-70 and 1992-93, 60-22.


Next are the Clippers. They played in Buffalo. Buffalo Braves were their name. They were there for their first eight seasons, making the playoffs three times. Their overall record is 259-397. Their best record wasn’t so hot as they went 49-33 for a .598 winning %. No championships to report.



Last are the Kings. They were the Rochester Royals. During this time, they were a good team. They played eight seasons there. It was nine in all but the first one was BAA. Anyway, they won a championship during this run which remains the franchise’s only championship. They had a very famous legend on their team, Oscar Robertson. Their best record was 51-17 which was a .750 winning %. Their overall record is 312-248. So yeah, they were a winning team.



Okay, so let’s look at the final numbers. The numbers will represent records and such. Example:

Team(seasons): Overall NY record and winning %, playoff appearances, championships, best season record and %, worst season and %. After that, I will rank the teams in order of worst to best. Fun? Of course it is! Let’s gooooooo!

Nationals(14): 576-437 (.569), 14, one, 51-13 (.797), 38-41 (.481)

Nets(two): 71-93 (.433), one, zero, 49-33 (.598), 22-60 (.268)

Knicks(65): 2559-2537 (.502), 39, two, 60-22 (.732), 21-59 (.263)

Braves(eight): 259-397 (.395), three, zero, 49-33 (.598), 21-61 (.256)

Royals(eight): 312-248 (.557), six, one, 51-17 (.750), 29-43 (.403)

Okay so we looked at our teams. Let’s rank them starting with the worst. I reviewed the numbers and records and such and so the numbers you see play a factor in the final decision. This wasn’t easy to make either. I can tell you right now that the bottom two was actually the hardest to decide on.

5. I have to go with the Nets on this one. This was hard because they had a better overall % than the Braves. Even their worst season record is better than the Braves’. So why are the Nets the worst? Simply put, I only got two seasons to work with. In those two seasons, I just didn’t see how they were clearly better than any other team.

4. The Braves and Nets stumped me for the longest time. I put the Braves ahead of the Nets because of reasons why I mentioned the Nets were lower. I do feel like if the Nets played in NY longer, perhaps the Nets’ record wouldn’t stay better than the Braves’.

3. Royals played well during their eight year run. They made the playoffs six times out of those eight. Won a championship. So why 3rd? Welp, I had a difficult task of trying to compare records of a few hundred games that the Royals played vs the over 5,000 games the Knicks played. Of course, the Nationals are in this too. They play a lot less than the Knicks. So, I reviewed the Knicks records at their best and worst and tried to reduce the games into a fraction that could compare with the lower numbers of the Royals and Nationals and the Braves and Nets. I saw the Royals as worse than the Knicks and Nationals. Again, the Royals have better %s than the Knicks and during their short run, they dominated. Of course, the years they dominated were with a lot less competition so that played a factor.

2. The Knicks are number two. Why? Well, continuing my talk on the Royals, I studied the Knicks. I looked at their highs and lows. I looked at how long they stayed on top and at the bottom. I decided that when the Knicks are at their best, boy, they can play. But, and the reason why they fell into second, they have seen some low points.

1. Call me a fan but I feel like the Nationals dominated. They made the playoffs each year they were around. They have the best overall record of the teams as well as the best season record. They also have the best worst record. They had only three losing seasons. I’ll admit, they didn’t always hit the top of the standings. And, just like the Royals, there were less teams and less talent back then. But hey, they played the game and did it well. Their championship winning team is still considered one of the best teams to grace the court. And that year wasn’t even their best season performance.

So what do you think? Was I wearing my homer hat or do you agree that the Nationals were the best to play in NY? Hit those comments and let me know how you would rank them!


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