5. Toronto Raptors
> Average ticket price: $156.86
> Attendance last season: 679,208 (18th most)
> Win/loss record last season: 22-60 (2nd worst in Eastern Conference)
> Attendance change last 10 years: -14.38%
> Area population: 5,113,149 (the largest in Canada)
The Toronto Raptors, the only Canadian NBA team, are definitely not the most successful team in basketball. Founded in 1995, the team has only made it to the playoffs five times, and only made it past the first round once (then lost in the second round.) Although the team had some success in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons, it has been otherwise terrible in recent years. Last season, the Raptors had a record of 22-60, the second worst in the Eastern Conference. As of 1999, the team plays in the Air Canada Centre, which is also home to the NHL team the Maple Leafs.
4. New York Knicks
> Average ticket price: $170.51
> Attendance last season: 808,879 (6th most)
> Win/loss record last season: 42-40 (6th in Eastern Conference)
> Attendance change last 10 years: -0.17%
> Area population: 18,897,109 (the largest in U.S.)
The Knicks (from “The Knickerbockers”) are one of only two teams of the original National Basketball Association still located in its original city. The city, New York, and the surrounding region, happens to be the largest in the country, and so fans have never been hard to come by. Over its history, the team has been home to some of the most famous players in basketball, including all-time greats Walt Frazier, Patrick Ewing, and Phil Jackson, the last of which went on to become one of the best NBA coaches. U.S. Senator Bill Bradley also played for the Knicks. The Knicks were playoff contenders for nine straight seasons, from 1967 through 1976. The team has had a bad streak of late, but made the playoffs again last season.
3. Miami Heat
> Average ticket price: $171.22
> Attendance last season: 810,930 (5th most)
> Win/loss record last season: 58-24 (2nd in Eastern Conference)
> Attendance change last 10 years: +19.75%
> Area population: 5,564,635 (8th largest in U.S.)
The greater Miami area, which includes Ft. Lauderdale, is the eighth largest statistical area in the U.S. Despite this fact, the city didn’t have an NBA team until 1988. The Heat were formed in that year as part of an expansion, along with the Charlotte Hornets. The team has been a playoff contender fairly consistently since the mid 1990s, including a 2006 championship over the Dallas Mavericks. In 2010, in one of the most publicized deals in NBA history, the Heat signed Lebron James, widely considered one of the best basketball players today. Combined with star Dwayne Wade, the two players form an exciting duo that helped the team to the NBA finals last year, where they lost to Mavericks.
2. Chicago Bulls
> Average ticket price: $172.42
> Attendance last season: 893,462 (the most)
> Win/loss record last season: 62-20 (1st in Eastern Conference)
> Attendance change last 10 years: +0.54%
> Area population: 9,461,105 (3rd largest in U.S.)
The Chicago Bulls were founded in 1966. The team’s history is marked by the inclusion of Michael Jordan, often considered the greatest basketball player of all time, who joined the team in 1984. Jordan led the Bulls to their first NBA Championship win in 1991 over the Los Angeles Lakers. The team went on to win the championship in ‘92, ‘93, ‘96, ‘97, and ‘98. Aside from Jordan, the Bulls have featured a number of Hall of Famers, including Nate Thurmond, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Robert Parish, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. In the 2010-2011 season, the Bulls won their division title, but then lost to the Miami Heat in the playoffs.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
> Average ticket price: $246.24
> Attendance last season: 778,877 (8th most)
> Win/loss record last season: 57-25 (2nd in Western Conference)
> Attendance change last 10 years: +0.33%
> Area population: 12,828,837 (2nd largest in U.S.)
Originally the Minneapolis Lakers, the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960, and has only missed the playoffs a handful of times since joining. The Lakers have hosted some of the most famous players in the history of the sport, including Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kobe Bryant. The team has won the second most NBA championships (behind the Celtics), 11 times as the Los Angeles Lakers (and four times as Minneapolis).