San Antonio Spurs officially become ‘best’ franchise in NBA history

Nobody has a better winning percentage than the San Antonio Spurs in all NBA history.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The term "best" is obviously subjective, but numbers do not lie. There’s no arguing with wins and losses. And thanks to another absolutely dreadful season from the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs now boast the highest winning percentage for any franchise in NBA history.

According to the San Antonio Express-News’ Dan McCarney, the Spurs are mere decimal points ahead of the Lakers, with the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder rounding out the top five. The Spurs, the report said, actually passed the Lakers a couple of weeks ago.

The Spurs have quietly climbed their way to the top on the strength of 15 straight 50-win seasons, an NBA record. While that streak is in jeopardy this year — the Spurs would have to win 14 of their last 23 games to get there again, likely but not a given — their win pct of 61.0 is right in line with their historic rate.

Which is pretty telling in and of itself: Winning roughly two out of every three games is an average year for the Spurs.

Championships are nice, and the Spurs are clearly well-versed in winning them. But only one organization can have the all-time highest winning percentage at any given moment. Bow down to San Antonio. For now, anyway.

This distinction only takes into account the teams’ NBA records. The Spurs, who started off in the ABA before joining the NBA in time for the 1976-77 season, have a combined overall record in the two associations of 2,298-1,573 — for a winning percentage of .594. The Spurs spent nine seasons in the ABA from 1967-76, incuding the first five as the Dallas Chaparrals — going 378-366 (.508).

The vast majority of the Spurs’ success in the NBA has come since the 1989-1990 season. As of Monday, San Antonio is 1,389-672 in that span — a whopping .674 winning percentage. They were just 531-535 in their first 13 seasons in the league.

Here are the all-time top five winning percentages in NBA history through games of Monday, March 2, per basketball-reference.com):

NBA’S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST TEAMS

TEAM W-L PCT. NBA TITLES
San Antonio Spurs/Dallas Chaparrals (since 1976) 1,920-1,207  .614 5
Los Angeles/Minneapolis Lakers (since 1948) 3,213-2,050 .610 16
Boston Celtics (since 1946) 3,156-2,215 .588 17
Phoenix Suns (since 1968) 2,091-1,694 .552 0
Seattle SuperSonics/OKC Thunder (since 1967) 2,072-1,794 .536 1

(h/t: San Antonio Express-News)