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NBA

NBA Opening Night: How have defending champions fared in season openers?

The NBA's opening night has always been all about a celebration of the previous season.

The short slate of games are capped off at the home arena of the defending champions, where prior to tip-off, the title holders will witness the unveiling of their championship banner and players receive championship rings.

More often than not, the night ends with the reigning champs adding to the festivities by winning their season-opener. Sometimes, they have to work hard for the win, and sometimes, they blow by their opposition.

But, every once in a while, there's the unexpected upset.

MORE: Every 50-pt game in season openers in NBA history

After the 2020-21 season opener, the league's defending champions are 58-16 (.784) in regular-season openers.

The Los Angeles Lakers, the current title holders, are 11-6 in their 17 season-openers after their most recent loss at the hands of the LA Clippers.

On the other hand, the Boston Celtics - who are tied with the Lakers for the most champions by a single franchise at 17 - have a stunning record of 15-2 on their banner nights. Their only two losses have come in 1969 and 1974.

Here's a look at how every NBA champion fared on opening night:

Season Champion Opener, Next Season
1946-47 Philadelphia Won 79-64 vs. Providence
1947-48 Baltimore Lost 84-72 vs. Minneapolis
1948-49 Minneapolis Won 81-69 at Philadelphia
1949-50 Minneapolis Lost 81-71 at Baltimore
1950-51 Rochester Won 101-97 vs. Baltimore
1951-52 Minneapolis Won 94-91 vs. Boston
1952-53 Minneapolis Lost 69-59 at Milwaukee
1953-54 Minneapolis Lost 94-83 at New York
1954-55 Syracuse Won 114-113 (OT) vs. Fort Wayne
1955-56 Philadelphia Lost 109-103 (2 OT) at Syracuse
1956-57 Boston Won 115-90 at St. Louis
1957-58 St. Louis Won 104-103 vs. Detroit
1958-59 Boston Won 129-125 vs. Cincinnati
1959-60 Boston Won 118-116 vs. Detroit
1960-61 Boston Won 137-102 vs. Detroit
1961-62 Boston Won 149-116 vs. New York
1962-63 Boston Won 109-95 at Baltimore
1963-64 Boston Won 112-81 vs. Detroit
1964-65 Boston Won 102-98 vs. Cincinnati
1965-66 Boston Won 121-113 vs. San Francisco
1966-67 Philadelphia Won 103-87 vs. L.A. Lakers
1967-68 Boston Won 106-88 at Detroit
1968=69 Boston Lost 110-108 vs. Cincinnati
1969-70 New York Won 114-107 vs. Boston
1970-71 Milwaukee Won 110-97 at Phoenix
1971-72 Los Angeles Won 129-94 at Kansas City-Omaha
1972-73 New York Won 101-100 vs. Detroit
1973-74 Boston Lost 126-119 vs. Buffalo
1974-75 Golden State Won 89-83 at Cleveland
1975-76 Boston Won 129-122 (OT) at Indiana
1976-77 Portland Won 106-99 at Seattle
1977-78 Washington Won 117-101 vs. New Orleans
1978-79 Seattle Lost 98-93 at San Diego
1979-80 Los Angeles Lakers Won 99-98 at Seattle
1980-81 Boston Won 124-100 vs. Washington
1981-82 Los Angeles Lakers Lost 132-117 vs. Golden State
1982-83 Philadelphia Won 117-114 vs. Washington
1983-84 Boston Won 130-123 at Detroit
1984-85 Los Angeles Lakers Won 121-116 (2 OT) at San Antonio
1985-86 Boston Won 120-102 vs. Washington
1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers Won 113-109 vs. Seattle
1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers Won 116-113 at Dallas
1988-89 Detroit Won 106-103 vs. New York
1989-90 Detroit Won 115-104 vs. Milwaukee
1990-91 Chicago Won 110-90 vs. Philadelphia
1991-92 Chicago Won 101-96 at Cleveland
1992-93 Chicago Won 124-123 (OT) at Charlotte
1993-94 Houston Won 90-86 vs. New Jersey
1994-95 Houston Won 110-92 vs. Golden State
1995-96 Chicago Won 107-98 at Boston
1996-97 Chicago Lost 92-85 at Boston
1997-98 Chicago Lost 104-96 at Utah
1998-99 San Antonio Won 89-76 vs. Philadelphia
1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers Won 96-86 at Portland
2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers Won 98-87 vs. Portland
2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers Lost 87-82 vs. San Antonio
2002-03 San Antonio Won 83-82 vs. Phoenix
2003-04 Detroit Won 87-79 vs. Houston
2004-05 San Antonio Won 102-91 vs. Denver
2005-06 Miami Lost 108-66 vs. Chicago
2006-07 San Antonio Won 106-97 vs. Portland
2007-08 Boston Won 90-85 vs. Cleveland
2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers Won 99-92 vs. LA Clippers
2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers Won 112-110 vs. Houston
2010-11 Dallas Lost 105-94 vs. Miami
2011-12 Miami Won 120-107 vs. Boston
2012-13 Miami Won 107-95 vs. Chicago
2013-14 San Antonio Won 101-100 vs. Dallas
2014-15 Golden State Won 111-95 vs. New Orleans
2015-16 Cleveland Won 117-88 vs. New York
2016-17 Golden State Lost 122-121 vs. Houston
2017-18 Golden State Won 108-100 vs. Oklahoma City
2018-19 Toronto Won 130-122 (OT) vs. New Orleans
2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers Loss 116-109 vs. LA Clippers

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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