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Power Ranking The United States By Basketball Achievement: The Top 10

This started as a heated debate in one of my many basketball group chats. It spurred this grand idea that I knew would take a LONG time. Well, here we are.

A couple of very important things to preface. These are based on a variety of factors that include but are not limited to basketball history, NCAA men's wins, titles, impact on the game, and a whole lot more. To make it as fair as possible for players from a particular state and for where a title was won for a professional franchise, it had to be where the player was physically born and where the title was physically won at that time. Now that these caveats are laid out, enjoy part four, and if you disagree or love where your team is ranked let me know on Twitter.

If you are wondering if your state has been listed so far:

10.) Kentucky

Kentucky vs Louisville
Courtesy of WKYT

Men's Division One Programs: 8

Men's Division One Record: 9,923-5,723-1

Men's Division One National Titles: 11

Women's Division One National Titles: 0

Professional Teams: None

NBA Titles: 0

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Wes Unseld, Rajon Rondo, Cliff Hagan, Allan Houston, Dave Cowens, D'Angelo Russell

College basketball in the State of Kentucky is a way of life. Now, without an NBA or WNBA team, that surely helps. Regardless, the passion for basketball is strong. With generations of success from the University of Kentucky Wildcats, you have decades of fan bases going back to the Adolph Rupp days. Rupp is the Wildcats longest tenured head coach of 41 years and winner of four national championships. Four other coaches have won national championships at Kentucky including Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, Joe B. Hall, and most recently John Calipari. The Kentucky basketball program is only half of the reason the state has made the top ten.

Louisville is the other primary reason for the state's basketball success. The men's basketball program has won three national championships (I count the 2013 title, argue with a wall.) The program has 1899 wins all time with a 65% win percentage. The rivalry between these schools is one of the strongest in the country. The amount of notable players from the state of Kentucky if you include the ones who played for the schools in the state would be a ridiculously long list. When you take into account very successful mid-majors like Murray State, the State of Kentucky puts up the resume of a top-ten basketball state.

9.) Illinois

1997-98 Chicago Bulls Lineup with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc
Courtesy of Fox News

Men's Division One Programs: 13

Men's Division One Record: 12,408-11,700

Men's Division One National Titles: 1

Women's Division One National Titles: 0

Professional Teams: Chicago Bulls, Windy City Bulls, Chicago Sky

NBA Titles: 6

WNBA Titles: 1

Notable Players: Anthony Davis, George Mikan, Dan Issel, Dwyane Wade, Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose

You may think I am going to start with the obvious of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls winning six NBA titles but I am not. I want to acknowledge the sheer amount of talent from Illinois, specifically Chicago. The notable players listed above are just the guys that made the NBA and had significant careers. I left guys off and the list doesn't include guys that were super-talented college or high school players that the state produced. The State of Illinois has four guys, Anthony Davis, George Mikan, Dwyane Wade, and Isiah Thomas, who were considered NBA Top 75 players in league history. An insane amount of talent coming out of Illinois.

The other major factor of Illinois is winning of course. The Chicago Bulls won six titles and are thought to be one of the best teams of all time featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. The state also has a championship in men's basketball courtesy of the 1962-63 Loyola Ramblers and in the WNBA courtesy of the 2021 Chicago Sky. When you combine the championship history with the over 12,000 men's division one wins, Illinois brings a solid resume to the table.

8.) Connecticut

Tristen Newton UConn Mens Basketball
Courtesy of Fox News

Men's Division One Programs: 7

Men's Division One Record: 5,702-5,547-2

Men's Division One National Titles: 5

Women's Division One National Titles: 11

Professional Teams: Connecticut Sun

NBA Titles: 0

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Marcus Camby, Calvin Murphy, Rick Mahorn, Kris Dunn II

Connecticut just wins. The UConn Huskies men's and women's basketball programs combine for sixteen national championships. Two interesting facts truly show how dominant the teams have been. First, the men's team has won a national championship every five years since 1999. Second, the women's team has won a national championship every two and a half years on average since 1995. The program exudes dominance. With over 5,700 wins for the men's programs in the state, Connecticut has basketball prowess.

7.) Massachusetts

Bill Russell wearing NBA championship rings
Courtesy of Nathaniel S. Butler | Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Men's Division One Programs: 9

Men's Division One Record: 7,199-6,592

Men's Division One National Titles: 1

Women's Division One National Titles: 0

Professional Teams: Boston Celtics

NBA Titles: 16

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Bill Laimbeer, Dana Barros, Michael Carter-Williams

Massachusetts holds a very sacred place in basketball history. The sport was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts by Dr. James Naismith in the winter of 1891. Due to this historical relevance, the Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Springfield today. The other strong point for Massachusetts is championships. Throughout NBA history the Boston Celtics have been one of the NBA's most storied franchises winning sixteen NBA titles. With a national championship in men's basketball also and over 7,100 wins, Massachusetts knows how to win.

6.) Indiana

Assembly Hall
Courtesy of Indiana University

Men's Division One Programs: 11

Men's Division One Record: 12,058-8,890-1

Men's Division One National Titles: 5

Women's Division One National Titles: 1

Professional Teams: Indiana Pacers, Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Indiana Fever

NBA Titles: 0

WNBA Titles: 1

Notable Players: Larry Bird, Glenn Robinson, Zach Randolph, Shawn Kemp, Eric Gordon

The most interesting factoid that I found when doing the research was how much high school basketball means to the State of Indiana. Indiana has twelve of the thirteen largest high school basketball gyms in the United States. The capacities range from 7,786 at the smallest to 8,424 for the largest, which is also the largest in the United States. Another very big factoid that is significant to Indiana and basketball is that Chuck Taylor, best known for his sneaker "Chuck Taylor All-Stars", is born and played basketball there. Without Taylor, we do not have the advancements in shoe technology we have today, and many records and moments from basketball history even up until the 1990s were played in Converses.

Now, let's discuss basketball achievements and statistics for Indiana. With over 12,000 men's division one program wins and five national championships, it is safe to say college basketball success is a massive part of their place on this list. Although no NBA title for the Pacers, the Indiana Fever has won a title in the WNBA. Lastly, the talent that has come from the state is some of the best. Having Larry Bird, who is arguably a top ten NBA player of all time, is quite a boost to your resume. The others listed above were all very productive players in their playing days in the NBA as well. Indiana brings a strong showing of basketball impact and achievement and I know the fans are very proud of their state.

5.) Pennsylvania

Wilt Chamberlain holding up 100 sign
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Men's Division One Programs: 14

Men's Division One Record: 19,865-15,758-2

Men's Division One National Titles: 4

Women's Division One National Titles: 0

Professional Teams: Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Titles: 4

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Rasheed Wallace

The largest single-game scoring performance in NBA history was achieved in Hershey, PA on March 2nd, 1962 by Wilt Chamberlain who is also from the State of Pennsylvania. In addition to Wilt, the state has other legends including Kobe Bryant, Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, and Rasheed Wallace. That is an insane group of NBA talent that includes four of them being Hall of Famers. While talking about the NBA, it is essential to mention that the state has four NBA titles to its name.

Pennsylvania is also very much known in men's college basketball for its cluster of programs known as the "Big 5." This cluster consists of La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Villanova, and starting this year, Drexel. Four of the six programs are in the top 50 in NCAA men's basketball wins all time (Temple, Villanova, Penn, Saint Joseph's.) When considering the fourteen men's programs having almost 20,000 wins combined and four national championships, why isn't Pennsylvania a top-five basketball state?

4.) Texas

Texas Flag Map
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Men's Division One Programs: 25

Men's Division One Record: 20,769-19,903

Men's Division One National Titles: 2

Women's Division One National Titles: 6

Professional Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Texas Legends, Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Austin Spurs, Dallas Wings

NBA Titles: 8

WNBA Titles: 4

Notable Players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Grant Hill, Chris Bosh, Trae Young, Jimmy Butler, Cade Cunningham

They say everything is bigger in Texas. That is a true statement if you are referring to the number of basketball titles. Texas just knows how to win titles, combining for twenty in the categories above. The state has so many college basketball programs which help add up to over 20,000 men's division one wins all time. In the NBA, the Spurs were one of the best franchises in the last 25 years winning five NBA titles, the Rockets are one of the most storied franchises with two back-to-back titles in the 90s, and the Mavericks are an exciting franchise that won its first and only title in 2011. Texas also has a pretty good mix of older and younger notable players that are extremely talented. The basketball achievements resume is pretty good for a state proud of its football.

3.) New York

Harlem Globetrotters Logo
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Men's Division One Programs: 22

Men's Division One Record: 23,745-20,801-3

Men's Division One National Titles: 2

Women's Division One National Titles: 0

Professional Teams: New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Westchester Knicks, Long Island Nets, New York Liberty

NBA Titles: 4

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony, Donovan Mitchell

New Yorkers love basketball. From Syracuse in the upstate area to the Knicks in Manhattan, they love their basketball teams. New York has strong basketball history dating back to when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) was playing at high school powerhouse Power Memorial. The Knicks are one of the most storied franchises in the NBA and they have two of the state's four NBA titles. The biggest thing New York has going for it is its ridiculous level of talent. From the Rucker Park legends to NBA legends like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius Erving, New York has no shortage of talent. New York is also the only state in the United States that can say the Harlem Globetrotters are from there which is super exciting.

2.) North Carolina

NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina mascots posing for photo

Men's Division One Programs: 19

Men's Division One Record: 16,844-13,492

Men's Division One National Titles: 13

Women's Division One National Titles: 1

Professional Teams: Charlotte Hornets, Greensboro Swarm

NBA Titles: 0

WNBA Titles: 0

Notable Players: Zion Williamson, David Thompson, Bob McAdoo, Chris Paul, James Worthy

Basketball in North Carolina is a way of life. Our life as basketball fans revolves around when one of the four Tobacco Road colleges we support is playing. Basketball has evolved so much due to the impact of rule changes because of basketball in North Carolina. The University of North Carolina Head Coach Dean Smith had his "four corners" offense that was pre-shot clock and the slow pace of play helped usher in the idea of a shot clock. North Carolina State University Head Coach Jim Valvano used the intentional foul in a way we hadn't seen it be used to beat certain offenses and those strategies of fouling to put teams at the line to miss free throws is something we still see prevalently today. Bones McKinney of Wake Forest was part of one of the first known basketball camps held in the United States at Campbell University and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski was one of the most influential basketball figures in the last thirty years.

From an achievements standpoint, no offense to the Charlotte Hornets, but the college basketball success is what carries the State of North Carolina. With nineteen men's basketball programs combining for over 16,000 wins and thirteen national championships, the resume is fierce. The North Carolina women's basketball team also won a national title in 1993-94, giving the state a whopping fourteen titles. When you think of rivalries in sports, North Carolina versus Duke should be at the top of the list. Many of the greatest players in the sport have come through that rivalry and even a few listed above that didn't but had their mark on basketball being from the State of North Carolina. Whether you are a fan of the Tar Heels, Demon Deacons, Blue Devils, the Wolfpack, or one of the many other great universities in the state, the one thing we all are is proud of our state's place in basketball history.

1.) California

Los Angeles Lakers Logo
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Men's Division One Programs: 26

Men's Division One Record: 22,749-20,537

Men's Division One National Titles: 15

Women's Division One National Titles: 5

Professional Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, South Bay Lakers, Stockton Kings, Los Angeles Sparks

NBA Titles: 17

WNBA Titles: 4

Notable Players: Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Reggie Miller, Damian Lillard, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, Paul Pierce, Paul George, Bill Walton

If you thought the state with FOURTY-ONE championships and a list of notable players that is as good as the one shown above, you are crazy. From the UCLA men's basketball dynasty under Head Coach John Wooden to the Lakers franchise history of titles, to the Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson era for the Warriors, championships are a staple of the State of California. There are enough notable players from California that you could make an entire team out of just Hall of Famers. California has rich basketball history, talent, and a knack for winning. California is crowned the king of basketball achievement.

I hope you enjoyed the five parts! Let me know here what you agreed and disagreed with!


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