The National Basketball Association (NBA) (formerly Basketball Association of America (BAA) from 1946–49) Finals is the championship series for the NBA and the conclusion of the NBA's postseason. All Finals have been played in a best-of-seven format, and contested between the winners of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference (formerly Divisions before 1970), except in 1950 in which the Eastern Division champion faced the winner between the Western and Central Division champions. Prior to 1949, the playoffs were instituted a three-stage tournament where the two semifinal winners played each other in the finals. The winning team of the series receives the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.
The home-and-away format in the NBA Finals is in a 2–2–1–1–1 format (the team with the better regular season record plays on their home court in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7). It was previously in a 2–3–2 format (the team with the better regular season record plays on their home court in Games 1, 2, 6 and 7) during 1949, 1953–1955, and 1985–2013, in a 1–1–1–1–1–1–1 format during 1956 and 1971 and in a 1–2–2–1–1 format during 1975 and 1978.
The Eastern Conference/Division leads the Western Conference/Division in series won (38–32). The defunct Central Division won one championship. The Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers alone own almost half of the titles, having won a combined 33 of 70 championships.
Walter A. Brown Trophy
The trophy was originally referred to as the NBA Finals trophy, but was renamed in 1964 after Walter A. Brown, the original owner of the Boston Celtics who was instrumental in merging the BAA and the National Basketball League into the NBA in 1949.
The original trophy was awarded to the BAA/NBA champions from 1947 to 1976. The trophy was kept by the winning team for one year and given to the winning team of the following year's finals, unless the previous team won again, much like the NHL's Stanley Cup, which continues that tradition to this day.
A new trophy design was created for the 1977 NBA Finals, although it retained the Walter A. Brown title. Unlike the original championship trophy, the new trophy was given permanently to the winning team and a new one was made every year.
The inaugural winners of the trophy were the Philadelphia Warriors, who defeated the Chicago Stags. The Boston Celtics won the trophy 14 times, the most in league history. From 1957 to 1969, they won the NBA Finals 11 out of 13 times, including eight consecutive wins. The final winners of the trophy were the Philadelphia 76ers, who defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals.
Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy
In 1984, the trophy was renamed to the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, in honor of Larry O'Brien, who served as NBA commissioner from 1975 to 1983.
The current trophy is made out of 14.5 pounds of sterling silver and vermeil with a 24 karat gold overlay and stands 2 feet (0.61 m) tall. It is designed to look like a basketball about to enter a net. The year and team names are engraved on the trophies, which are often prominently displayed in the winning team's arena.
The Boston Celtics were the inaugural winners of the renamed trophy, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games (4–3) in the 1984 NBA Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers have won the trophy eight times, the Chicago Bulls have won it six times, and the San Antonio Spurs have won it five times.