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Los Angeles Lakers

Which is the greatest NBA franchise of all-time: the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics?

By defeating the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals in six games, the Los Angeles Lakers have clinched the 17th championship in franchise history and their first since 2010.

The Lakers are now tied with the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history. Together, both organizations have combined for 34 of the 74 NBA titles (45.9%).

So, with both franchises tied for most titles ever, which team is the greatest of all-time - the Lakers or Celtics? Our NBA.com Staff debates:

Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Los Angeles Lakers.

I believe the answer is quite straight forward: it's got to be the Lakers. I was and always will be a die-hard fan of the late Kobe Bryant, so I might be biased, but the Lakers franchise has time-and-again showed the ability to regroup to become a contender, just years after their dynastic periods come to a close.

The proof is in the pudding, their championships are spread out across the history of the league. The franchise has won at least one championship in every decade outside of the 1960s and 1990s. In fact, they are the only team in NBA history to record a Finals appearance in every decade.

On the other hand, 11 of the 17 Celtics wins came during a 13-year period from 1956-1969. They remained among the competitive teams in the league for another 17 years until1986 - adding another five titles in that time - but in the 34 years since, they have just two Finals appearances (2008, 2010) and one title (2008) to show for.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Let's not let recency bias get in the way. It's the Boston Celtics.

While the Lakers might be the popular answer after just winning their 17th NBA title, tying the Celtics for most all-time, Boston still has their number when it comes to head-to-head. Let's not forget that in the 12 times these two teams have met in The Finals, the Celtics have won NINE of those matchups. That's 75% of the time these teams have faced off in the championship round, the title went to Boston.

Say what you want about 11 of their titles coming before the 1970s... seven of those titles came against the Lakers. If Los Angeles had won those championships, Lakers fans wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them.

Los Angeles may have tied up the championship total, but Boston still has their number by a large margin against one another.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I'm with Yash here, it's the Los Angeles Lakers.

This might fall in line with the recency bias that Kyle alluded to but I'm taking the "what have you done for me lately?" approach here. I won't take away from the Celtics winning 11 titles before the 1970s, however, I will give the Lakers a bonus because they've won 11 over the last 40 years, a period in which the league has grown from 22 to 30 teams.

To contrast, the league went from eight to 14 teams when Boston won its 11 titles before 1970. And I'll present that fact without further comment.

Don't get me wrong, there is a certain aura about the Celtics storied history but the Lakers' lore is unmatched. Each franchise has had its fair share of all-time greats, but I'm reminded of how star-studded Los Angeles' history when I see lists showing that each of the top four scorers in league history donned a Laker uniform at some point in their respective careers … and six of the top eight.

Most recently, a graphic showing the shortlist of players to have won three or more NBA Finals MVP trophies had me saying to myself "that's a lot of purple and gold" after seeing LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal as three of the exclusive five.

That, to me, fully encapsulates LA's lore, along with its modern-day dominance, decade over decade.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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