NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL teams, who move often and sometimes win

The franchises that have seen the most cities

The team that has traveled the most is in the NBA. The Kings, currently based in Sacramento, have indeed played in five different cities. They began their adventure in the pro basketball league in 1948, playing under the name Rochester Royals, in New York State. The Royals were crowned NBA champions in 1951, then moved to Cincinnati in 1957, where success was not met.

In 1972 the franchise was called the Kings and played in two cities at the same time, Kansas City and Omaha, Nebraska. The experience was cut short, as after three seasons, the Kings settled down for good in Kansas City. Rarely playing the leading roles, the team left for Sacramento in 1986, with little success.

Also in the NBA, the Hawks have known four different cities (Moline, a small town in Illinois, Milwaukee, St Louis, and Atlanta, since 1968). In MLB, the Athletics and the Braves have often made moving boxes. The former have played in Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland (since 1968), the latter in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta (since 1966).

Three NFL franchises have seen so many welcoming lands: the Cardinals (Chicago, St Louis, and, since 1988, Phoenix), the Rams (Cleveland, Los Angeles, St Louis) and the Raiders (Oakland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas). Finally in NHL, the Devils were first the Kansas City Scouts in 1974, then the Colorado Rockies in 1976, before moving to New Jersey in 1982.

The teams that came home

In the journey that takes them through the United States, it happens that some teams find a city that was once theirs. In the NBA, this will be the case next season for the Warriors, who will play in San Francisco, where they had played from 1962 to 1971, before leaving for Oakland.

In the NFL, the city of Los Angeles has found two teams, which it had already hosted: the Rams, in 2016 and the Chargers, in 2017. The first were the historic franchise of the city, they had played there from 1946 to 1994 , before heading to St Louis. The latter had only stayed there for a year (in 1960) and then headed for San Diego, for a lease of nearly 60 years.

In their history, the Raiders have been based in Oakland twice, from 1960 to 1981 and then from 1995 to 2019. Between these two periods, they played in Los Angeles. In the NBA, the Nets began their history in New York in 1976. After a year, they moved to New Jersey, before returning to “Big Apple” in 2012, but this time representing only the District of. Brooklyn.

In the US sports galaxy, there are also teams that move and change names, but resurface a few years later when a franchise is created. The Cleveland Browns, a historic NFL team, became the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. An agreement was signed, however, stipulating that the next franchise to emerge would be based in Cleveland. This was the case in 1999. And the new team has recovered the name, colors, logo and even all the history of its predecessor.

The Cleveland Browns (here running back Kareem Hunt) played in the NFL from 1950 to 1995. They became the Baltimore Ravens.  But the Browns were recruited in 1999. (L. Stauffer / USA Today Sports / Presse Sports)

The Cleveland Browns (here running back Kareem Hunt) played in the NFL from 1950 to 1995. They became the Baltimore Ravens. But the Browns were recruited in 1999. (L. Stauffer / USA Today Sports / Presse Sports)

In the NBA, the Charlotte Hornets, born in 1988, moved to New Orleans in 2002. Two years later, Charlotte hosted the Bobcats, who in 2014 were called the Hornets. In the meantime, the New Orleans franchise had become the Pelicans. Here too, the “new generation” Hornets have taken over everything that the old franchise had left: colors, palmares …

Finally, in NHL, the Winnipeg Jets have existed, but twice. First from 1979 to 1996, before leaving for Phoenix. Then the Canadian city recovered in 2011 the franchise of the Trashers which Atlanta no longer wanted. A vote from the locals caused the team to be called the Jets again.

But the distinction between the two Winnipeg franchises has remained. The current player is considered the successor to the Atlanta team, while the “first generation” Jets remain the Phoenix-based team.

The champion teams in several cities

Two franchises managed the performance of being crowned champion in three different cities. In MLB, the Braves were titled while playing in Boston in 1914, then in Milwaukee in 1957 and finally in Atlanta in 1995. In NFL, the Rams were champions, being based in Cleveland (in 1945), Los Angeles (1951) and St Louis (1999). Only this last victory came in a Super Bowl. The super final did in fact only see the light of day in 1967.

Seeing a team win their championship with two different cities is a bit more common. The Raiders did it in the NFL (in Oakland then Los Angeles), as did the Colts (Baltimore, Indianapolis). In the NBA, we find the Lakers (Minneapolis, Los Angeles), the Sixers (Syracuse, Philadelphia) and the Warriors (Philadelphia, Oakland). Four MLB teams also scored a double: the Dodgers (Brooklyn, Los Angeles), the Athletics (Philadelphia, Oakland), the Twins (Washington, Minnesota) and the Giants (New York, San Francisco).

Conversely, a team played in three different cities, without ever being able to be champion or even play a final. These are the Clippers in the NBA. The franchise started in 1970 and was called the Buffalo Braves. She became the San Diego Clippers in 1978, before migrating to Los Angeles in 1984. The team has never been better than a conference semi-finalist (eight times) whose last time this summer during the bubble NBA.

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