How Many NBA Teams Were There in 1960? 2024 A Look Back

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Dive into NBA history with my expert knowledge: how many NBA teams were there in 1960? Trace the league’s growth and evolution over the years.

Historical Context of the NBA in 1960

Before diving into the specifics, you should know that by 1960, the NBA had emerged from a merger of two leagues and established a significant presence in the American sports landscape, creating the structure for what you recognize as modern professional basketball.

Formation of the NBA

The NBA began as a merger between the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL). This pivotal union occurred in 1949, forming the league you now know as the National Basketball Association. This collaboration brought together the best teams and players, setting the stage for a unified national competition.

League Organization in 1960

Back in 1960, the NBA’s organization looked quite different from today’s setup. The league then consisted of a smaller, more concentrated roster of teams. There were originally eight teams from the BAA and seven from the NBL, but by 1960, the league had structured itself into a set of franchises that would become the cornerstones of the NBA:

  • Eastern Division
    • Boston Celtics
    • New York Knicks
    • Philadelphia Warriors
    • Syracuse Nationals
    • Washington Capitols
  • Western Division
    • Fort Wayne Pistons
    • Minneapolis Lakers
    • Rochester Royals
    • St. Louis Hawks

These teams laid the groundwork for the league’s expansion and provided a solid foundation for the growth of professional basketball.

1960 NBA Teams and Key Players

A basketball court with 8 NBA teams in 1960, each team's logo and key player jerseys displayed, with a crowd of fans cheering in the stands

In 1960, the NBA was divided into two divisions, and the talent was abundant. You’ll find that the teams were rich with players who would go on to become legends of the sport.

Eastern Division Teams

The Eastern Division was home to the following teams:

  • Boston Celtics
  • New York Knicks
  • Syracuse Nationals
  • Philadelphia Warriors

Each of these teams boasted a roster of notable talents. The Celtics, for example, were led by the incredible Bill Russell, whose defensive prowess and rebounding dominance were already making headlines.

Western Division Teams

Meanwhile, the Western Division had its own powerhouses:

  • Minneapolis Lakers
  • St. Louis Hawks
  • Cincinnati Royals

Each team in the West was competitive, but the St. Louis Hawks were particularly formidable, thanks to the scoring machine Bob Pettit.

Notable NBA Players in 1960

You couldn’t talk about 1960 without mentioning:

  • Bill Russell (Celtics): A defensive giant and team leader.
  • Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors): Renowned for his scoring ability and incredible statistical accomplishments.

Bob Cousy (Celtics) dazzled fans with his playmaking, while Elgin Baylor (Lakers) showcased versatility and Oscar Robertson (Royals) began illustrating why he’d be known as “The Big O,” an all-around talent right from his rookie season.

Significant Events and Records

In 1960, there were only 8 NBA teams. This scene could depict a basketball court with 8 team logos on the scoreboard

In 1960, the NBA landscape was marked by remarkable playoffs and a range of awards that highlighted the talents and achievements of its players. This was a year of both emerging talent and seasoned athletes making their mark in the basketball world.

1960 NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs in 1960 were a showcase of skill, with the Los Angeles Lakers making a significant impact. Your attention might be captured by the intense battles on the court as teams vied for the ultimate basketball accolade, culminating in the NBA Finals.

Season Highlights and Awards

Throughout the 1960 season, numerous players received accolades for their on-court performances. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award celebrated the player deemed to be the most outstanding during the regular season. The Rookie of the Year honored the league’s best newcomer, adding fresh talent to the mix of celebrated athletes.

In addition, the NBA All-Star Game brought together the finest players, where standouts like Bill Sharman could shine. All-NBA selections were made, with top performers named to the All-NBA First Team and All-NBA Second Team, reflecting their exceptional contributions throughout the season. Recognition at the NBA Awards spanned several categories, ensuring that excellence did not go unnoticed during an eventful year in basketball history.

Evolution: Expansion Teams and Relocations

In 1960, there were only 8 NBA teams, a far cry from the 30 teams in the league today

As you explore the NBA’s past, you’ll find that the landscape of the league in 1960 was quite different from today’s. Teams moved across the nation, and expansion clubs emerged to shape the NBA as you know it.

Early Expansions

By 1960, the NBA had undergone several rounds of expansion. After starting with 11 teams in 1946, the league evolved rapidly. The Chicago Packers, which would later become the Chicago Zephyrs, was one of the expansion teams introduced. Their entry in the 1961-1962 season marked the NBA’s growth into new markets.

Relocation of Franchises

Throughout the NBA’s early years, several franchises relocated. The St. Louis Bombers were among the original teams but ceased operations before the 1950s. The Washington Capitols shared a similar fate, disbanding in 1951. Contrastingly, teams like the Baltimore Bullets, Fort Wayne Pistons, Rochester Royals, and Milwaukee Hawks relocated, subsequently becoming the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks, respectively. These moves were a precursor to the modern NBA’s geographic diversity.

Statistics and League Standings

The scene shows a table with statistics and league standings for the NBA teams in 1960. The table displays the number of teams and their respective rankings

Diving into the historical data of the NBA, you’ll uncover fascinating regular season records and team stats that highlight the competitive landscape of the league during the 1960 NBA season. You’re about to get a snapshot of the best performing teams and the standout statistics that defined the year.

1960 NBA Regular Season Records

The NBA landscape in 1960 was markedly different from today, with a total of 8 teams contending for the championship. The Boston Celtics dominated the Eastern Conference, clinching the top with a remarkable 59 wins and only 16 losses. Their excellence on the court was undeniable, as they sailed through the regular season with a sterling winning percentage.

In the Western Conference, it was the St. Louis Hawks who showcased their skills, accumulating 46 wins against 29 losses, leading their conference with steadfast determination. Your look at the standings reveals that the gap between the top and bottom teams was significant, underlining the disparity of the era.

League Leaders and Team Stats

The excitement of the 1960 NBA season is palpable when you explore the statistics leaders. The standout players made a remarkable impact with their scoring, rebounding, and assists, pushing their teams to the limits in their quest for supremacy.

When it comes to team stats, the offensive and defensive efforts were pivotal in deciding the outcomes. Boston Celtics not only led with an imposing win-loss record but also showcased a well-rounded team performance, leading many statistical categories, including points scored per game and rebounds. Their stalwart defense and strategic team dynamics set the standard for success that season.

Your journey through the 1960 NBA season’s statistics and league standings paints a vivid picture of a competitive era, replete with high-stakes matches and basketball excellence. With each number and record, you’re witnessing the rich history of a sport that continues to captivate fans around the world.


How many teams were in the NBA in 1965?

In 1965, there were 9 NBA teams.

How many teams were in the NBA in 1950?

In 1950, there were 11 NBA teams.

When were there 30 NBA teams?

There were 30 NBA teams starting from the 2004-2005 NBA season.

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Fabian Kühar
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