National Basketball Association
Current season or competition:
2007-08 NBA season
NBA Logo
Sport Basketball
Founded 1946
Commissioner David Stern
No. of teams 30
Country(ies) Template:Country flag2
Most recent
San Antonio Spurs
TV partner(s) ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV
Official website

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is North America's premier professional men's basketball league, comprised of 30 teams. It is an active member[1] of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by the International Basketball Federation as the National Governing Body (NGB) for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, which also includes the NHL, the NFL and MLB.

The league was founded in New York City, on June 6 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA).[2] The league adopted the name National Basketball Association in the autumn of 1949 after merging with the rival National Basketball League. The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.


1940s and 1950s: The early years

Further information: List of NBA seasons

The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by the owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeast and Midwest United States. On November 1 1946, in Toronto, Canada, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers which the NBA now regards as the first game played in the league's history. [3] Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the National Basketball League, the BAA was the first league to attempt to play primarily in large arenas in major cities. During its early years, the quality of play in the BAA was not significantly better than in competing leagues or among leading independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance the 1948 ABL finalist Baltimore Bullets moved to the BAA and won its 1948 title, followed by the 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis Lakers who won the 1949 BAA title.

On August 3, 1949, the BAA agreed to merge with the NBL, expanding the National Basketball Association to seventeen franchises located in a mix of large and small cities, as well as large arenas and smaller gymnasiums and armories. In 1950, the NBA consolidated to eleven franchises, a process that continued until 1954, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises, all of which are still in the league (the Knicks, Celtics, Warriors, Lakers, Royals/Kings, Pistons, Hawks, and Nationals/76ers).

While contracting, the league also saw its smaller city franchises move to larger cities. The Hawks shifted from "Tri-Cities" (the area now known as the Quad Cities) to Milwaukee (in 1951) and then to St. Louis (in 1955); the Royals from Rochester to Cincinnati (in 1957); and the Pistons from Fort Wayne to Detroit (in 1957). In 1960, the Lakers relocated to Los Angeles, California, and the Warriors moved to San Francisco, California, in 1963. The following year, the Nationals left upstate New York to bring basketball back to Philadelphia, changing their nickname from "Nationals" to "76ers." This means out of the original eight franchises, only the Knicks and Celtics have not relocated at any point.

Although Japanese-American Wataru Misaka technically broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947-48 season when he played for the New York Knicks, 1950 is recognized as the year the NBA integrated with the addition of African American players by several teams including Chuck Cooper with the Boston Celtics, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton with the New York Knicks, and Earl Lloyd with the Washington Capitols. Today, more than fifty years later, the NBA is made up of players of many different races, with diverse backgrounds and cultures. Over 80% of NBA players today are African American.

During this period, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by center George Mikan, won five NBA Championships and established themselves as the league's first dynasty. To encourage shooting and discourage stalling, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954. If a team does not attempt to score a field goal (or the ball doesn't make contact with the rim) within 24 seconds of obtaining the ball, play is stopped and the ball given to its opponent.

In 1956, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already featured guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, and went on to lead the club to eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons. Center Wilt Chamberlain entered the league in 1959 and became the dominant individual star of the 1960s, setting new records in scoring (100) and rebounding (55). Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the great individual rivalries in the history of American team sports.

1960s: Celtics dynasty

Through this period, the NBA continued to strengthen with the shift of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises. The Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) became the 9th NBA team in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, the league expanded from nine teams to fourteen, introducing the Chicago Bulls, Seattle Supersonics, San Diego Rockets (who relocated to Houston four years later), Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns. Then in the 1970s, it was extended to seventeen teams as the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) all made their debuts.

In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association. The leagues engaged in a bidding war. The NBA landed the most important college star of the era, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor), who together with Oscar Robertson led the Milwaukee Bucks to a title in his second season, and who later played on five Laker championship teams.

However, the NBA's leading scorer, Rick Barry jumped to the ABA, as did four veteran referees—Norm Drucker, Earl Strom, John Vanak, and Joe Gushue.

1970s: The NBA vs. the ABA

The ABA also succeeded in signing a number of major stars, including Julius Erving, in part because it allowed teams to sign college undergraduates. The NBA expanded rapidly during this period, one purpose being to tie up the most viable cities. From 1966 to 1974, the NBA grew from nine franchises to 18; the New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) came aboard in 1974. Then, following the 1976 season, the leagues reached a settlement that provided for the addition of four ABA franchises to the NBA, raising the number of franchises in the league at that time to 22. The franchises were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and New York Nets. Some of the biggest stars of this era were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Dave Cowens, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Artis Gilmore, and Pete Maravich.

1980s: Magic vs. Bird

The league added the ABA's innovative three-point field goal beginning in 1979 to open up the game. That same year, rookies Larry Bird and Magic Johnson joined the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, initiating a period of significant growth in fan interest in the NBA throughout the country and the world. Bird went on to lead the Celtics to three titles, and Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to five. Also in the early '80s, the NBA added one more expansion franchise, the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the total to 23 teams.

1990s: The Jordan Era and globalization

Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. This resulted in more cities demanding teams of their own. In 1988 and 1989, four cities got their wishes as the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Minnesota Timberwolves made their NBA debuts.

The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada and to 29 teams with the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis, which left the Toronto Raptors as the only Canadian team in the NBA. Globalization also occurred in the 1990s. A growing number of NBA star players also began coming from other countries. Initially, many of these players, such as 1994 NBA MVP Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria, first played NCAA basketball to enhance their skills.

In 1996, the NBA created a women's league, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). In 1998, the NBA owners began a lockout which lasted 191 days and was settled on January 18, 1999. As a result of this lockout the 1998-99 NBA season was reduced from 82 to 50 games (60%), which were all played in 1999 only, thus calling it the 1999 NBA season. San Antonio won the championship on June 25th by beating New York Knicks.

In 2004, two years after the Hornets relocation to New Orleans, the NBA returned to North Carolina as the Charlotte Bobcats were formed.

2000s: Post-Jordan Western Conference Domination

Since the break-up of the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1998, the Western Conference has dominated the NBA, winning 7 of 9 championships. Tim Duncan and David Robinson won a championship in 1999 with the San Antonio Spurs, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant started the 2000s off with the first of three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs won in 2003 against the Nets, and the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the Finals in 2004, only to fall to the Detroit Pistons (the only championship team since 1998 that didn't have either Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'Neal.) In the off-season, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat, and the Lakers and Bryant have not won a playoff series since then. San Antonio won championship #3 in 2005 with a nucleus of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Duncan. In 2006, O'Neal won title #4 with the Miami Heat, giving them their first championship ever. San Antonio then swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, giving him title #4. Between them, O'Neal and Duncan have been to each of the last nine NBA Finals and have won eight out of nine titles. Together, they have won 6 Finals MVP awards and won 3 league MVPs.

Today, the NBA has reached 30 franchises. In 2001, an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League (or D-League) was created.

An increasing number of international players have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA, such as:

Today, young players from the English-speaking world tend to attend U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA (notable examples are Canadian Steve Nash, 2005 and 2006 MVP, and Australian Andrew Bogut, the top draft pick in 2005), while other international players generally come to the NBA from professional club teams. The NBA is now televised in 212 nations in 42 languages.

On June 29, 2006, a new official game ball was introduced for the 2006-07 season, marking the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second in 60 seasons. Manufactured by Spalding, the new ball featured a new design and new synthetic material that Spalding claimed offered a better grip, feel, and consistency than the original ball. However, many players were vocal in their disdain for the new ball, saying that it was too sticky when dry, and too slippery when wet.

On December 11, 2006, Commissioner Stern announced that beginning January 1, 2007, the NBA would return to the traditional leather basketball in use prior to the 2006-2007 season. The change was influenced by frequent player complaints and confirmed hand injuries (cuts) caused by the microfiber ball.[4] The Players' Association had filed a suit in behalf of the players against the NBA over the new ball.[5] As of 2006, the NBA team jerseys are manufactured by Adidas, which purchased the previous supplier, Reebok.

On July 19, 2007, the FBI investigated allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games he officiated over the past two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games. Donaghy is also under investigation for alleged mob connections. [6]

On February 19, 2008, the NBA declared that the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets will play the first outdoor game on October 11, 2008, at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It will be the first outdoor game in the modern era of the NBA.


The NBA originated in 1946 with 11 teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations currently consists of 30 teams. The United States is home to 29 teams and one is located in Canada. The Boston Celtics have won the most championships, with 16 NBA Finals wins. The next most successful franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 14 overall championships (9 in Los Angeles, 5 in Minneapolis). Following the Lakers are the Chicago Bulls with 6 championships, all of them over an 8-year span during the 1990s. The San Antonio Spurs, who have won 4 championships since 1999, are the defending champions.

The current league organization divides thirty teams into two conferences of three divisions with five teams each. The current divisional alignment was introduced in the 2004-05 season.

Eastern Conference

Division Team City Colors Arena Founded
Atlantic Boston Celtics Boston, Massachusetts Celtic Green, White [7] TD Banknorth Garden 1946
New Jersey Nets East Rutherford, New Jersey Navy, Red, Dark Silver, Silver, White Izod Center* 1967*
New York Knicks New York, New York Blue, Orange, Black, White, Silver Madison Square Garden 1946
Philadelphia 76ers Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Black, Red, Gold, Silver, Blue, White Wachovia Center 1939*
Toronto Raptors Toronto, Ontario Red, Black, Silver, White Air Canada Centre 1995
Central Chicago Bulls Chicago, Illinois Red, Black, White United Center 1966
Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland, Ohio Wine, Metallic Gold, Navy, White Quicken Loans Arena 1970
Detroit Pistons Auburn Hills, Michigan (Detroit area) Royal Blue, Red, White, Navy The Palace of Auburn Hills 1941*
Indiana Pacers Indianapolis, Indiana Navy, Yellow, Gray, White Conseco Fieldhouse 1967
Milwaukee Bucks Milwaukee, Wisconsin Forest Green, Red, Silver, White Bradley Center 1968
Southeast Atlanta Hawks Atlanta, Georgia Navy, Red, Silver, White Philips Arena 1946*
Charlotte Bobcats Charlotte, North Carolina Bobcats Blue, Orange, Silver, Black, White Charlotte Bobcats Arena 2004
Miami Heat Miami, Florida Black, Deep Red, White, Yellow American Airlines Arena 1988
Orlando Magic Orlando, Florida Blue, Black, Silver, White Amway Arena* 1989
Washington Wizards Washington, D.C. Slate Blue, Black, Gold, White Verizon Center 1961*

Western Conference

Division Team City Colors Arena Founded
Southwest San Antonio Spurs San Antonio, Texas Black, Silver, White AT&T Center 1967*
Houston Rockets Houston, Texas Red, White, Black, Silver Toyota Center 1967*
Memphis Grizzlies Memphis, Tennessee Memphis Midnight Blue, Beale Street Blue, Smoke Blue, Grizzlies Gold, White FedExForum 1995*
New Orleans Hornets New Orleans, Louisiana Teal, Purple, Gold, White New Orleans Arena 1988*
Dallas Mavericks Dallas, Texas Navy Blue, Silver, White, Black American Airlines Center 1980
Northwest Denver Nuggets Denver, Colorado Light Blue, Cobalt Blue, Yellow Gold, White Pepsi Center 1967
Minnesota Timberwolves Minneapolis, Minnesota Slate Blue, Black, Silver, Green, White Target Center 1989
Portland Trail Blazers Portland, Oregon Black, Red, Silver, White Rose Garden 1970
Seattle SuperSonics Seattle, Washington Hunter Green, Gold, White KeyArena 1967
Utah Jazz Salt Lake City, Utah Utah Blue, Jazz Blue, Silver, White, Purple EnergySolutions Arena 1974*
Pacific Golden State Warriors Oakland, California Midnight Blue, Golden Gate Orange, California Yellow, White, Sky Blue Oracle Arena 1946*
Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles, California Red, Blue, White Staples Center 1970*
Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles, California Purple, Gold, White Staples Center 1948*
Phoenix Suns Phoenix, Arizona Purple, Gray, Orange, White, Yellow, Red, Black US Airways Center 1968
Sacramento Kings Sacramento, California Black, Purple, Silver, White ARCO Arena 1945*


Defunct teams

See: List of defunct National Basketball Association teams

Regular season

Following the summer break, teams hold training camps in October. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 12-man active roster (and a 3-man inactive list) with which they will begin the regular season. Teams have the ability to assign players with less than two years of experience to the NBA development league. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The NBA regular season begins in the first week of November.

During the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year (16 games), teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times (36 games), and teams in the other conference twice apiece (30 games). This asymmetrical structure means the strength of schedule will vary significantly between teams.

The NBA is the only major league in North America (besides the Canadian Football League) in which teams play every other team during the regular season (although the National Hockey League will revert to a schedule that sees every team face one another beginning in the 2008-2009 season). Each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season. However, this results in each team playing nearly double the number of games against teams from the opposite conference (30) as teams in their own division (16).
Bucks vs Bobcats - February 11th, 2006

Milwaukee Bucks playing the Charlotte Bobcats in a regular season game.

In February, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans vote throughout the United States, Canada, and on the internet, and the top vote-getters at each position in each conference are given a starting spot on their conference's All-Star team. Coaches vote to choose the remaining 14 All-Stars. Then, Eastern conference players face the Western conference players in the All-Star game. The player with the best performance during the game is rewarded with a Game MVP award. Other attractions of the All-Star break include the Rookie game, which pits the best rookies and the best second-year players against each other; the Skills, a competition between players to see who could complete an obstacle course comprising shooting, passing and dribbling in the fastest time; the Three Point Contest, a competition between players to see who is the best three-point shooter; and the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, to see which player dunks the ball in the most entertaining way. These other attractions have varying names which include the names of the various sponsors who have paid for naming rights.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the league's trade deadline.Template:Vague After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Around the end of April, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards, as well as the selection of the honorary, league-wide, post-season teams. The Sixth Man of the Year Award is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award is awarded to the league's best defender. The Coach of the Year Award is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award is given to player deemed the most valuable for (his team) that season. Additionally, The Sporting News awards an unofficial (but widely recognized) Executive of the Year Award to the general manager who is adjudged to have performed the best job for the benefit of his franchise.

The post-season teams are the All-NBA Teams, the All-Defensive Teams, and the All-Rookie Teams; each consists of five players. There are three All-NBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There are also two All-Rookie teams, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.


Main article: NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs. The three division winners, along with the team with the next best record from the conference are given the top four seeds. The next four teams in terms of record are given the lower four seeds.

Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed plays the eighth seed, the second seed plays the seventh seed, the third seed plays the sixth seed, and the fourth seed plays the fifth seed in the playoffs, having a higher seed generally means you will be facing a weaker team. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage, including the First Round. This means that, for example, if the team who receives the 6 (six) seed has a better record than the team with the 3 (three) seed (by virtue of a divisional championship), the 6 seed would have home court advantage, even though the other team has a higher seed. Therefore, the team with the best regular season record in the league is guaranteed home court advantage in every series it plays. For example, in 2006, the Denver Nuggets won 44 games and captured the Northwest Division and the #3 seed. Their opponent was the #6 seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Although Denver won its much weaker division, the Clippers had home-court advantage and won the series in five games.

The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays a rival in a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games advancing into the next round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. In the next round, the successful team plays against another advancing team of the same conference. Thus, all but one team in each conference are eliminated from the playoffs. Since the NBA does not re-seed teams, the playoff bracket in each conference uses a traditional design, with the winner of the series matching the 1st and 8th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 4th and 5th seeded teams, and the winner of the series matching the 2nd and 7th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 3rd and 6th seeded teams. In every round except the NBA Finals, the best of seven series follows a 2-2-1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 6. For the final round (NBA Finals), the series follows a 2-3-2 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 5. The 2-3-2 pattern in the NBA Finals has been in place since 1985.

The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals, and is held annually in June. The victor in the NBA Finals wins the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. Each player and major contributor -- including coaches and the general manager -- on the winning team receive a championship ring. In addition, the league awards an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award

On August 2 2006, the NBA announced the new playoff format. The new format takes the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record and rank them 1-4 by record. The other 4 slots are filled by best record other than those other 4 teams. Previously, the top three seeds went to the division winners.

Championship leaders

Team Championships Winning year(s)
Boston Celtics 16 1957, 1959-66, 1968-69, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986
Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers 14 1949-50, 1952-54, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987-88, 2000-02
Chicago Bulls 6 1991-93, 1996-98
San Antonio Spurs 4 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007
Philadelphia/Golden State Warriors 3 1947, 1956, 1975
Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers 3 1955, 1967, 1983
Detroit Pistons 3 1989-90, 2004
New York Knicks 2 1970, 1973
Houston Rockets 2 1994-95
Baltimore Bullets (now defunct) 1 1948
Rochester Royals/Sacramento Kings 1 1951
St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks 1 1958
Milwaukee Bucks 1 1971
Portland Trail Blazers 1 1977
Washington Bullets/Wizards 1 1978
Seattle SuperSonics 1 1979
Miami Heat 1 2006

Notable people

Further information: Basketball Hall of Fame

Presidents and commissioners




See also


External links