The Most Popular NBA Teams In The World (Over The Last 10 Years)

Most Popular NBA Teams ft Image

The NBA is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Whether it is TV, League Pass, or social media, millions of fans are constantly following their favorite teams and super players. If you have ever wondered which are the most popular NBA teams in every continent, we’ve done the research and the popularity of some teams may surprise you.

How did we determine the popularity of each team? Well, we used Google Trends to gather all the necessary data. Google Trends basically analyzes the top search queries on Google Search across various regions and languages. We looked at data from 173 countries and territories and this data was processed to show which teams were the most popular NBA teams over the past 10 years.  

The Most Popular NBA Teams By Continent In The Last Decade

Most Popular NBA Teams Stats Table

Most popular NBA teams in North America

No surprises here, as you’ve probably already guessed in North America, the most popular NBA teams over the past 10 years have been the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, and Miami Heat. These teams are some of the most well-known and successful franchises in league history, and their popularity is reflective of that. If you’re a fan of any of these teams, you’re in good company – they have some of the most passionate and dedicated fans in the world.

Most popular NBA teams in South America

Similar to what we expected in North America, the Lakers are on top of the popularity list in South America with the Bulls, Warriors, Celtics, and Heat rounding out the top 5 most popular NBA teams in the continent. I guess the only surprise here is not seeing the San Antonio Spurs in the top 5, especially considering their success and the Manu Ginobili factor (arguably the greatest Latin American player to grace the league).

Most popular NBA teams in Africa

The continent that produced players like Hakeem “the dream shake” Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, and many others has a strong NBA following, even though basketball isn’t as big as soccer. The top 5 most searched for teams were the Lakers the Warriors in second place and the Bulls, Celtics, and Nets. The Nets are the only team in the top 5 which was a bit of a surprise but with the superstar duo of Kyrie and Kevin Durant, they were bound to attract fans worldwide.

Most popular NBA teams in Asia

In Asia, it’s clear to see that there is a Lebron James factor in play, there’s no other reason why the Cavs would be in the top 5 in terms of popularity. The Lakers are on top of the list followed by the Warriors, the Bulls, the Celtics, and the Cavaliers. Why aren’t the Houston Rockets in the top 5 seeing how popular the likes of Yao Ming, Tracey Mcgrady, and others were in East Asia? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’s because of the issues between the Chinese government and the Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey who tweeted his support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators in October 2019.

Most popular NBA teams in Europe

The rise of European NBA players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic has led to significant viewership growth in Europe but the same 5 teams dominate the search interest in the European continent. The Lakers are the most popular team in Europe followed by the Warriors, Bulls, Celtics, and Cavaliers (the Lebron James effect).

Ranking Every NBA Franchise By Popularity

There are many factors that influence the popularity and search interest in an NBA team – the team’s success, star players, the history of the franchise, the size of the market, social media presence, etc.

Looking at every team individually, there are some interesting trends but there’s no doubt that player star power and championships dictate popularity.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

When it comes to the most popular NBA team in the world, there’s no competition. The Los Angeles Lakers absolutely dominate the scene, they are still the most popular team on five of the six continents and that is despite the fact that the Lakers have only won one championship in the past decade. Yes, the Lakers have an illustrious history earning them the nickname “The Show-Time Lakers” but the driving force behind the worldwide Laker fanbase over the last decade, is largely thanks to the popularity of two of the top 10 all-time greats Kobe Byrant and LeBron James.

2. Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors Stats Table

The Warriors have been the most successful team in the last decade, winning 5 NBA out of the last 10 NBA championships. They’ve always had a solid fan base in the Bay Area, especially in the “We Believe” days but global popularity was ushered in when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson became the “Splash Brothers” and took over the league. A few NBA titles and 3-point records later the Warriors have become the 2nd most popular team in the world. The Warriors won their first NBA championship of this era in 2015, and the team was the most popular worldwide for three consecutive years, from 2015 until 2017. 

3. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are the team who played a huge role in the NBA’s global expansion, let’s call it the Michael Jordan effect. Even though they haven’t made any significant success in almost 25 years, Michael Jordan’s impact is still present. The Bulls are the second most popular NBA team in South America and Oceania.

4. Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics Stats Table

The Boston Celtics are one of the two most successful teams in NBA history sharing the throne with the Lakers as both teams have won 17 NBA championships. Being 4th on the list shows that historical achievements and great rivalries play a massive role in attracting a global fanbase. The Celtics are the most popular team in Oceania and the second most popular in North America. They returned to the NBA finals in 2022 after 15 years.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers Stats Table

The Cavaliers are this high on the list because of LeBron James’ impact. The Cavs won their only NBA championship in 2016 in unprecedented fashion, defeating the Warriors in the NBA Finals after coming back 3-1 down. James left Cleveland in 2018 and the team’s popularity has been dropping ever since, they are ranked 21st in 2021.

6. Miami Heat

Miami Heat Stats Table

Despite the fact that the Miami Heat joined the league in the last 1980s, they have quickly become a major global NBA franchise, that is recognized around the world. Everything went to another level when Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal brought the first NBA championship to Miami in 2006, and when LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, the Heat’s popularity skyrocketed. The team is currently the fifth most popular in North and South America but their popularity is decreasing as they are ranked at no. 13 in 2021.

7. Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets Stats Table

The Nets increased their popularity with the move from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012. Since then, the Nets have constantly tried to build a super team of some sort. Firstly with their blockbuster trade for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry and then winning the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and acquiring Kyrie Irving. None of which has gotten them further than the second round in the playoffs.

8. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks Stats Table

The Dallas Mavericks are not among the top 10 most popular NBA teams in North America but having one of the best European players of all-time Luka Doncic who followed the footsteps of another Euro great Dirk Nowitzki puts them higher on the list.

9. San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs Stats Table

The San Antonio Spurs are a synonym for consistency as they made it to the NBA Playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, a run that ended in 2020. Coach Gregg Popovich has been able to put up a competitive roster for decades and that is the key reason why the Spurs are in the top 10 on this list.

10. Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers Stats Table

The Clippers have always been the other team in LA and one of the worst teams in the league since their foundation in 1970, making only 7 playoff appearances prior to 2012. Things seemed to have turned in the Clippers’ favor in the last decade, their popularity increased with the arrivals of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan. Now that they have Stars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, on-court success and global popularity are within the Clippers reach.

11. Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Stats Table

The Houston Rockets is a team that had many ups and down in the last decade. They almost made it to the NBA Western Conference Finals in 2018 with James Harden on the team. They are among the top 10 in Asia due to the Yao Ming association.

12. New York Knicks

New York Knicks Stats Table

According to Forbes, the New York Knicks are the most valuable NBA team and it is the mecca of basketball. I mean, what true basketball fan wouldn’t love to watch a game at Madison Square Garden? All of this however doesn’t put the Knicks in the top 10 teams when it comes to worldwide popularity in the last decade. In 2021, the Knicks made it to the Playoffs for the first time in seven years which speaks to how much Knicks fans have suffered.

13. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are the only NBA team from Canada and that plays a major role in their popularity rankings, The team has a whole country supporting them! The Raptors won their only NBA championship in franchise history in 2019 defeating the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder Stats Table

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s young core of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook was exciting to watch and propelled the team’s popularity! Who knows what they could’ve achieved if the team was kept together drafting three MVP-caliber players doesn’t happen often. After all three superstars left, things dramatically changed, they are now 27th on the popularity list in 2021.

15. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns Stats Table

The Phoenix Suns reached the NBA Finals in 2020 after missing the Playoffs for 10 straight years. They are the fifth most popular team in 2021 due to the likes of Devin Booker and Chris paul but their previous uninspiring years puts them in the middle of this list over the last decade.

16. Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks Stats Table

It might be surprising to see the Milwaukee Bucks this low on the list but before the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, they were just an average team. The Greek Freak won back-to-back MVP awards and led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship after 50 years in 2021 when they were the fourth most popular team in the league.

17. Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers Stats Table

Portland Trail Blazers are one of the teams that regularly sell out the home games but when it comes to worldwide popularity, the team from Oregon is in the bottom half.

18. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers Stats Table

Yes, the Sixers have had some iconic players like Allen Iverson but years going through a rebuilding process “Trust the Process” for the most part of the decade means that the team hasn’t had that global appeal. The process might just pay off with the likes of Joel Embiid and James Harden now on the team.

19. Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets Stats Table

Nikola Jokic has won the MVP award in the last two seasons which makes the Nuggets one of the most popular teams in his native Serbia. Despite being ranked at no. 11 in 2021, the Nuggets are still pretty low on the decade list.

20. Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks Stats Table

The arrival of Trae Young and the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals appearance have lifted the Hawks to no. 12th in popularity in 2021. The Hawks have missed the Playoffs only three times in the last decade which makes their ranking pretty surprising.

21. Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards Stats Table

Yes, arguably the greatest player of all time spent some with the Washington Wizards, and yes the team is based in the US capital but in terms of worldwide popularity, the Wizards lack a dedicated fanbase. One of the only reasons why the Wizards are in the 21st position on the worldwide list is because they have been the most-searched-for team in Isreal and Japan due to their international players, Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura.

22. Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets Stats Table

It’s been a tough decade for the Charlotte Hornets. The team has only made the playoffs twice in that time and they’ve mostly been at the bottom of the league. Michael Jordan bought the team in 2010 but the basketball legend has left a lot to be desired when it comes to his ability as a good GM and owner of the Hornets franchise.

23. Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz Stats Table

The Utah Jazz is the only professional team in the big four leagues in the state of Utah but it seems like they are popular only locally and in the US.

24. Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers Stats Table

Indiana is still considered a basketball state but the Pacers’ glory days are long gone. They have had trouble retaining and signing superstars for years now and that makes a huge impact on the team’s global reach.

25. Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons Stats Table

It’s been almost 15 years since the Pistons won their last Playoff game and as the things stand, it will take a while until they do so again. 

26. New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans Stats Table

The Pelicans have made it past the first Playoff round only twice in their history and are still building their international fan base. The one-two punch of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram will probably move the team higher on this list but it’ll definitely take some time and a winning record.

27. Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic Stats Table

Since Dwight Howard left, the Magic has never won a Playoff series and the team has had some of the worst records in recent years. The Magic selected Paolo Banchero with the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft he does have the makings of a star player Orlando at least in the top half of this list.

28. Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings Stats Table

It’s been 16 years since the Sacramento Kings made the Playoffs for the last time which is the longest drought in the league. The team has made numerous bad draft choices in the last decade which is one of the reasons they are ranked so low on this list.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves Stats Table

Over the last couple of years, the Minnesota Timberwolves have built a respectful core by drafting Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards, and trading for Rudy Gobert. Their lack of success over the last 10 years has definitely played a part in their ranking on this list but that could change.

30. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies Stats Table

The Memphis Grizzlies are by far the least popular NBA team globally. This isn’t exactly new news – they’ve been at the bottom of the barrel in terms of global popularity for years now as they were only formed in 2001 after relocating from Vancouver. However, things may finally be starting to change with the emergence of Ja Morant, who is a promising young star and already an All-Star. The Grizzlies will need more than just one player to turn things around, but Ja Morant is a good start.

Tagged in this post

    Join SportsLockr Family Now Sign Up For All The Latest Deals

    By signing up you will receive updates of sales, promotion and new items.