When an NBA team wins the championship, they are called world champions. How did that come about?

3 Answers 3


Like it or not, American sports has a history of calling the winner of each of its major professional sports each year "World Champions." This tradition goes back to the 1884 World Series. Besides the NBA and Major League Baseball, the NFL also calls their Super Bowl winning team "World Champions." It is a little bit of a joke, but also signifies that we American sports fans think of our sports as the best in the world.

  • @BenMiller I agree that American sports fans think that they are the best but their thinking is not enough to justify this title at the official level
    – Ale
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 8:00
  • Think it's only the MLS and NHL that don't, probably because the level of the international field is way closer than in the NBA, NFL or MLB. (Meaning that if a team from NA was to play against a team from let's say europe, it would not be just straight a stomp by the NA team)
    – Fredy31
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 17:08

I think this is because NBA is probaly the most important national basketball championship in the world.

Even Dream Team Olympic performances in world vision helped the thought that the NBA tournament was at a higher level than any other world championships.

The Guardian has analyzed this issue and emphasized the non-validity of this appellative.

However, any of this elements does not justify the "World Champions" title.

  • 3
    Frankly, that Guardian article is codswallop. The difference in standard between the NBA and even say the Euroleague is huge.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 23:01
  • @PhilipKendall I agree with you, but the focus is that there is no tournament that include other teams outside US/Canada in Nba so is not correct to call the NBA winner also World Camphions. NBA is a national championship
    – Ale
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 8:38

It's a simple premise. The best players in the entire world (including the best international players) play in the NBA. Therefore, champions = "world champions", aka winners at the highest level of basketball competition.


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