East vs West: which conference has won more NBA championships?
The old guard back east, or the new upstarts in the west, we look at which conference has the edge in NBA Finals history and why it isn’t all clear cut.
Across American sports, conferences tend to have geographical references; north, south, east, and west; and often these are difficult to decipher when looking at the map.
The Chicago Stags were originally in the NBA’s western division, before common sense prevailed and the Bulls were placed in the east, conforming to the fact that the city lies decidedly in the eastern half of the United States.
Memphis and New Orleans are two cities in the eastern United States, both lying on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, who compete in the Western Conference. Minneapolis is 294 miles west of Milwaukee, but shares a conference not with the eastern city but with Portland, over 1400 miles away to the west.
When the league was first founded, the now-defunct Baltimore Bullets were in the western conference, despite being a seaport on the Atlantic Ocean. Likewise the Rochester Royals.
All of that information is important when thinking about who has more wins in NBA history, the Eastern or Western Conference. Keep it in mind when you hear that the Eastern Champions have the edge on the Western 40 to 36.
A shining example is the Milwaukee Bucks, who won their first NBA Final as Western Conference champions, before being shunted to the East.
While the long arc of history may favor the East, it is the young turks from the West who are currently on the rise. Since 1999, the Western Champions have taken the crown 16 times to the Eastern’s eight.
So perhaps the zeitgeist favors Denver in 2023. But then again, Miami is a strong team with experience in these situations.