The National Basketball Association, or NBA as it’s more commonly known, is a professional men’s basketball league for teams in North America. There are a total of 30 teams in the NBA, which is considered the best professional basketball league in the world.
History of the NBA
In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded and quickly began setting out on their mission to create a professional basketball league. There was stiff competition, however, with the American Basketball League (ABL) and National Basketball League (NBL) also trying to go professional, this meant teams were separated across the three competitions, compromising the competitiveness of each league.
In August 1949, the NBL and the BAA merged and the name was changed to what we still know it as today – the National Basketball Association. The NBA also formally adopted the history and statistics of the BAA, meaning the first-ever competitive NBA match was played at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1946, as the New York Knickerbockers visited the Toronto Huskies.
In 1957, NBA legend Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, led by coach Red Auerbach, with the Celtics going on to win eleven NBA titles over the next thirteen seasons, creating the very first NBA dynasty. From 1967, the NBA faced stiff competition from a new league, the American Basketball Association (ABA), which poached veteran players and referees from the NBA. After almost ten years of competing, the NBA and ABA formally merged in 1976.
In 1979, the NBA adopted the ABA’s three-point field goal and, in the same year, saw rookies Magic Johnson and Larry Bird join the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Over the next ten seasons, the two NBA greats would win eight titles between them.
A rookie by the name of Michael Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls in 1984 and, little did anyone know, the NBA was about to change forever. The six-foot-six shooting guard went on to win six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998, each time being named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP). “MJ” is also widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time and is largely credited with the unprecedented surge in the NBA’s popularity in the 80s and 90s, due to massive sponsorship deals with brands such as Nike.
The NBA has had its fair share of superstars since Jordan, though, and even those who profess to have little knowledge of basketball will have no doubt heard of the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Steph Curry and the late Kobe Bryant.
The future of the NBA
Now, the NBA is setting its sights further from North America, with the inaugural Basketball Africa League due to become the first NBA-associated league outside of the US and Canada to begin in March 2020. The NBA are also touting the possibility of creating an Indian NBA league, with negotiations very much in an advanced stage and with a possible 12 teams/franchises competing in the first season.