The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Canada. On November 1, 1946, in Toronto, Canada, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers at Maple Leaf Gardens, in a game the NBA now regards as the first played in its history. The first basket was made by Ossie Schectman of the Knickerbockers. Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the NBL, 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 that league's 1948 title, and the 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis Lakers won the 1949 BAA title. Prior to the 1948–49 season, however, NBL teams from Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Rochester jumped to the BAA, which established the BAA as the league of choice for collegians looking to turn professional.
Following the 1948–49 season, the BAA took in the remainder of the NBL: Syracuse, Anderson, Tri-Cities, Sheboygan, Denver, and Waterloo. In deference to the merger and to avoid possible legal complications, the league name was changed from the BAA to the National Basketball Association in spite of having the same BAA governing body including Podoloff. The new league had 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 1953–54, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises: the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, Fort Wayne Pistons, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, and Syracuse Nationals, all of which remain in the league today. The process of contraction saw the league's smaller-city franchises move to larger cities. The Hawks shifted from the Tri-Cities to Milwaukee in 1951, and then to St. Louis in 1955. The Rochester Royals moved from Rochester, New York, to Cincinnati in 1957 and the Pistons relocated from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Detroit in 1957.
Japanese-American Wataru Misaka broke the NBA color barrier in the 1947–48 season when he played for the New York Knicks. He remained the only non-white player in league history prior to the first African-American, Harold Hunter, signing with the Washington Capitols in 1950. Hunter was cut from the team during training camp, but several African-American players did play in the league later that year, including Chuck Cooper with the Celtics, Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton with the Knicks, and Earl Lloyd with the Washington Capitols. 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 fails to make contact with the rim) within 24 seconds of obtaining the ball, play is stopped and the ball given to its opponent.
In 1957, 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 with the Warriors in 1959 and became a dominant individual star of the 1960s, setting new single game records in scoring (100) and rebounding (55). Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the greatest rivalries in the history of American team sports.
The 1960s were dominated by the Celtics. Led by Russell, Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, Boston won eight straight championships in the NBA from 1959 to 1966. This championship streak is the longest in NBA history. They did not win the title in 1966–67, but regained it in the 1967–68 season and repeated in 1969. The domination totaled nine of the ten championship banners of the 1960s.
Through this period, the NBA continued to strengthen with the shift of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia to become the Philadelphia 76ers, and the St. Louis Hawks moving to Atlanta, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises. The Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) became the ninth NBA team in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, the league expanded from 9 to 14 teams, introducing the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder), San Diego Rockets (who relocated to Houston four years later), Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.
In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association (ABA). 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). 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.
In 1969, Alan Siegel, who oversaw the design of Jerry Dior's Major League Baseball logo a year prior, created the modern NBA logo inspired by the MLB's. It incorporates the silhouette of the legendary Jerry West based on a photo by Wen Roberts, although NBA officials denied a particular player as being its influence because, according to Siegel, "They want to institutionalize it rather than individualize it. It's become such a ubiquitous, classic symbol and focal point of their identity and their licensing program that they don't necessarily want to identify it with one player." The iconic logo debuted in 1971 and would remain a fixture of the NBA brand.
The ABA succeeded in signing a number of major stars in the 1970s, including Julius Erving of the Virginia Squires, 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. In 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) all made their debuts expanding the league to 17. The New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) came aboard in 1974 bringing the total to 18. 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 added were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets). Some of the biggest stars of this era were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Dave Cowens, Julius Erving, Elvin Hayes, Walt Frazier, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Dan Issel, and Pete Maravich. The end of the decade, however, saw declining TV ratings, low attendance and drug-related player issues – both perceived and real – that threatened to derail the NBA.
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. In 1984, they played against each other for the first time in the NBA Finals. Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to five titles, and Bird went on to lead the Celtics to three. Also in the early 1980s, the NBA added one more expansion franchise, the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the total to 23 teams. Later on, Larry Bird won the first three three-point shooting contests. Former league commissioner David Stern who took office on February 1, 1984 before retiring February 1, 2014, oversaw the expansion and growth of the NBA to a global commodity.
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, bringing the total to 27 teams. In the first year of the 1990s, the Detroit Pistons would win the second of their back-to-back titles, led by coach Chuck Daly and guard Isiah Thomas. Jordan and Scottie Pippen would lead the Bulls to two three-peats in eight years during the 1991–98 seasons. Hakeem Olajuwon won back-to-back titles with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995.
The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan as the anchor, along with Bird, Johnson, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Christian Laettner. Eleven players on the Dream Team have been inducted individually into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada with the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, which left the Raptors as the only Canadian team in the NBA.
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 (61% of a normal season), and the All-Star Game was cancelled. The San Antonio Spurs won their first championship, and first by a former ABA team, by beating the New York Knicks, who were the first, and are the only, eighth seed to ever make it to the NBA Finals.
Since the breakup of the Chicago Bulls championship roster in the summer of 1998, the Western Conference has dominated, with the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs combining to win the title nine out of fourteen seasons. Tim Duncan and David Robinson won the 1999 championship with the Spurs, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant started the 2000s with three consecutive championships for the Lakers. The Spurs reclaimed the title in 2003 against the Nets. In 2004, the Lakers returned to the Finals, only to fall in five games to the Detroit Pistons.
After the Spurs took home the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in 2005, the 2006 Finals featured two franchises making their inaugural Finals appearances. The Miami Heat, led by their star shooting guard, Dwyane Wade, and Shaquille O'Neal, who had been traded from the Lakers during the 2004 summer, won the series over the Dallas Mavericks in six after losing the first two games. The Lakers/Spurs dominance continued in 2007 with a four-game sweep by the Spurs over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were led by LeBron James. The 2008 Finals saw a rematch of the league's highest profile rivalry, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, with the Celtics winning, for their 17th championship, thanks to their new big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett.
In 2009, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers returned to the Finals, this time defeating the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic. Bryant won his first Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his 13th season after leading the Lakers to their first NBA championship since the departure of Shaquille O'Neal.
The 2010 NBA All-Star Game was held at Cowboys Stadium in front of the largest crowd ever, 108,713. At the end of that season, the Celtics and the Lakers renewed their rivalry from 2008 when they met again in the NBA Finals for a record 12th time. The Lakers won the title by winning Game 7, 83–79. Before the start of the 2010–11 season the NBA had an exciting summer with one of the most anticipated free agent classes of all time. Two of which signed, and one resigned, with the Miami Heat, leading to a season that was heavily centered on their eventual success or failure at taking home the championship. The Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, did in fact make the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, in a rematch for the franchises of the 2006 Finals. The Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki (the eventual NBA Finals MVP), took the series in six games. This was the Mavericks' first title. Veterans Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Peja Stojaković celebrated their first NBA championship.
On July 1, 2011, at 12:01 am, the NBA announced another lockout. After the first few weeks of the season were canceled, the players and owners ratified a new collective bargaining agreement on December 8, 2011, setting up a shortened 66-game season. Following the shortened season, the Miami Heat made a return to the Finals with the trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh against Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. The Heat went on to defeat the Thunder in five games, capturing their second NBA title in six years. Their success would continue into the following season, which concluded with their victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. The two teams would meet for a rematch in the following year's Finals, where the Spurs defeated the Heat in five games. Following that series, LeBron James announced that he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. James led the Cavaliers to their second Finals appearance, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Most recently, in a rematch, the 2016 NBA Finals concluded with the Cavaliers defeating the Warriors in seven games to win their first NBA Championship.
Following pioneers like Vlade Divac (Serbia) and Dražen Petrović (Croatia) who joined the NBA in the late 1980s, an increasing number of international players have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA. Since 2006, the NBA has faced Euroleague teams in exhibition matches in the NBA Europe Live Tour and since 2009 in the Euroleague American Tour. The 2013–14 season opened with a record 92 international players on the opening night rosters, representing 39 countries and comprising over 20% of the league
In 2001, an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League (or D-League) was created. Before the league was started, there were strong rumors that the NBA would purchase the Continental Basketball Association, and call it its developmental league.
Two years after the Hornets' relocation to New Orleans, the NBA returned to North Carolina, as the Charlotte Bobcats were formed as an expansion team in 2004.
The Hornets temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City in 2005 for two seasons because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. The team returned to New Orleans in 2007.
A new official game ball was introduced on June 28, 2006, for the 2006–07 season, marking the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second ball 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.
Commissioner Stern announced on December 11, 2006, that beginning January 1, 2007, the NBA would return to the traditional leather basketball in use prior to the 2006–07 season. The change was influenced by frequent player complaints and confirmed hand injuries (cuts) caused by the microfiber ball. The Players' Association had filed a suit in behalf of the players against the NBA over the new ball. As of 2006, the NBA team jerseys are manufactured by Adidas, which purchased the previous supplier, Reebok.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began an investigation on July 19, 2007, over 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. On August 15, 2007, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. However, he could face additional charges if it is determined that he deliberately miscalled individual games. Donaghy claimed in 2008 that certain refs were friendly with players and "company men" for the NBA. Donaghy alleged that refs influenced the outcome of certain playoff and finals games in 2002 and 2005. NBA commissioner David Stern denied the allegations and said Donaghy was a convicted felon and a "singing, cooperating witness". Donaghy served 15 months in prison and was released in November 2009. According to an independent study by Ronald Beech of Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, although the refs increased the Lakers' chances of winning through foul calls during the game, there was no collusion to fix the game. On alleged "star treatment" during Game 6 by the refs toward certain players, Beech claimed, "there does seem to be issues with different standards and allowances for different players."
The NBA Board of Governors approved the request of the Seattle SuperSonics to relocate to Oklahoma City on April 18, 2008. The team, however, could not move until it had settled a lawsuit filed by the city of Seattle, which was intended to keep the SuperSonics in Seattle for the remaining two seasons of the team's lease at KeyArena. Following a court case, the city of Seattle settled with the ownership group of the SuperSonics on July 2, 2008, allowing the team to move to Oklahoma City immediately in exchange for terminating the final two seasons of the team's lease at KeyArena. The Oklahoma City Thunder began playing in the 2008–09 season.
The first outdoor game in the modern era of the league was played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on October 11, 2008, between the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets.
A referee lockout began on September 1, 2009, when the contract between the NBA and its referees expired. The first preseason games were played on October 1, 2009, and replacement referees from the WNBA and NBA Development League were used, the first time replacement referees had been used since the beginning of the 1995–96 season. The NBA and the regular referees reached a deal on October 23, 2009.
The first official NBA league games on European ground took place in 2011. In two matchups, the New Jersey Nets faced the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena in London in front of over 20,000 fans.
The NBA laid off around 114 league employees—about 11 percent of all the league office workforce—in July 2011 to save money.
The 2011–12 NBA season, scheduled to begin November 1, 2011, with a matchup between the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, was postponed due to a labor dispute. The lockout officially ended on December 8, 2011, when players and owners ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, and the season began on Christmas Day.
The New Jersey Nets officially changed their name to the Brooklyn Nets on April 30, 2012. They began playing in the New York City borough of Brooklyn in the 2012–13 season.
The NBA announced in October 2012 that it would begin fining players for flopping.
After the 2012–13 season, the New Orleans Hornets renamed themselves the Pelicans. During the 2013–14 season, Stern retired as commissioner after 30 years, and deputy commissioner Adam Silver ascended to the position of commissioner. During that season's playoffs, the Bobcats officially reclaimed the Hornets name, and by agreement with the league and the Pelicans, also received sole ownership of all history, records, and statistics from the Pelicans' time in Charlotte. As a result, the Hornets are now officially considered to have been founded in 1988, suspended operations in 2002, and resumed in 2004 as the Bobcats, while the Pelicans are officially treated as a 2002 expansion team. (This is somewhat similar to the relationship between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.)
Donald Sterling, who was then-owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, received a lifetime ban from the NBA on April 29, 2014, after racist remarks he made became public. Sterling was also fined US$2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA Constitution.
Becky Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs on August 5, 2014, as an assistant coach, becoming the second female coach in NBA history but the first full-time coach. This also makes her the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports in North America.
The NBA announced on April 15, 2016, that it would allow all 30 of its member clubs to sell corporate sponsor advertisement patches on official game uniforms, beginning with the 2017–18 season. The sponsorship advertisement patches would appear on the left front of jerseys, opposite Nike's logo, and would measure approximately 2.5 by 2.5 inches. The NBA will become the first major North American professional sports league to allow corporate sponsorship logos on official team uniforms. The first team to announce a jersey sponsorship was the Philadelphia 76ers, who agreed to a deal with StubHub.
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 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. Reflecting the population distribution of the United States and Canada as a whole, most teams are in the eastern half of the country: thirteen teams are in the Eastern Time Zone, nine in the Central, three in the Mountain, and five in the Pacific.Notes
Following the summer break, teams begin training camps in late September. 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. Preseason matches are sometimes held in non-NBA cities, both in the United States and overseas. The NBA regular season begins in the last week of October.
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). Each team plays six of the teams from the other two divisions in its conference four times (24 games), and the remaining four teams three times (12 games). Finally, each team plays all the teams in the other conference twice apiece (30 games). This asymmetrical structure means the strength of schedule will vary between teams (but not as significantly as the NFL or MLB). Over five seasons, each team will have played 80 games against their division (20 games against each opponent, 10 at home, 10 on the road), 180 games against the rest of their conference (18 games against each opponent, 9 at home, 9 on the road), and 150 games against the other conference (10 games against each team, 5 at home, 5 on the road).
The NBA is one of only two of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada in which teams play every other team during the regular season (the other being the National Hockey League). Each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season. From 2005 to 2008, the NBA had the distinction of being the only one of the four major leagues in which all teams play every other team.
The NBA is also the only league that regularly schedules games on Christmas Day. The league has been playing games regularly on the holiday since 1947, though the first Christmas Day games were not televised until 1983–84. Games played on this day have featured some of the best teams and players. Christmas is also notable for NBA on television, as the holiday is when the first NBA games air on network television each season. Games played on this day have been some of the highest-rated games during a particular season.
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 Rising Stars Challenge (originally Rookie Challenge), where the top rookies and second-year players in the NBA play in a 5-on-5 basketball game, with the current format pitting U.S. players against those from the rest of the world; the Skills Challenge, where players compete to finish an obstacle course consisting of shooting, passing, and dribbling in the fastest time; the Three Point Contest, where players compete to score the most amount of three-point field goals in a given time; and the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, where players compete to dunk the ball in the most entertaining way according to the judges. 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 trade deadline, which is set to fall on the 16th Thursday of the season (usually in February) at 3pm Eastern Time. 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 middle 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 the player deemed the most valuable for (his team) that season. Additionally, 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 Team, the All-Defensive Team, and the All-Rookie Team; each consists of five players. There are three All-NBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the 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.
NBA Playoffs begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference competing for the Championship. 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 begins the playoffs playing against 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, having a higher seed means a team faces a weaker team in the first round. 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 seed has a better record than the team with the 3 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 seed 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 5.
The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays an opponent 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. 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, the best-of-7 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. From 1985 to 2013, the NBA Finals followed a 2–3–2 pattern, meaning that one team had home court in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while the other played at home in games 3, 4, and 5.
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 the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award to the best performing player of the series.
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.
The Boston Celtics have won the most championships with 17 NBA Finals wins. The second most successful franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 16 overall championships (11 in Los Angeles, 5 in Minneapolis). Following the Lakers, are the Chicago Bulls with six championships, all won over an 8-year span during the 1990s, and the San Antonio Spurs with five championships, all since 1999.
Current teams that have no NBA Finals appearances:Charlotte Hornets (formerly Charlotte Bobcats)
Los Angeles Clippers (formerly Buffalo Braves, San Diego Clippers)
Memphis Grizzlies (formerly Vancouver Grizzlies)
New Orleans Pelicans (formerly New Orleans Hornets, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets)
As one of the major sports leagues in North America, the National Basketball Association has a long history of partnership with television networks in the United States. The League signed a contract with DuMont in its 8th season (1953–54), marking the first year the NBA had a national television broadcaster. Similar to NFL, the lack of television stations leads to NBC taking over the rights beginning the very next season until April 7, 1962 - NBC's first tenure with the NBA. Currently in the U.S., the NBA has a contract with ESPN and TNT through the 2024–25 season. Games that are not broadcast nationally are usually aired over regional sports network specific to the area where the teams are located.
The National Basketball Association has sporadically participated in international club competitions. From 1987 to 1999 the NBA champions played against the continental champions of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) in the McDonald's Championship. This tournament was won by the NBA invitee every year it was held.
In 2012, a ticket cost from $10 to $3,000 apiece, depending on the location of the seat and the success of the teams that were playing.
According to Nielsen's survey, the NBA has the youngest audience, with 45 percent of its viewers under 35, but the least likely, along with Major League Baseball, to be watched by women, who make up only 30% of the viewership. It also has the highest share of black viewers with 45 percent of its viewers being black and only about 40 percent of viewers being white, making it the only top North American sport that doesn't have a white majority audience.Maurice Podoloff, President from 1946 to 1963
Walter Kennedy, President from 1963 to 1967 and Commissioner from 1967 to 1975
Larry O'Brien, Commissioner from 1975 to 1984
David Stern, Commissioner from 1984 to 2014
Adam Silver, Commissioner from 2014 to present
50 Greatest Players in NBA History
Lists of National Basketball Association players
List of foreign NBA players, a list that is exclusively for players who are not from the United States
Following pioneers like Vlade Divac (Serbia) and Dražen Petrović (Croatia) who joined the NBA in the late 1980s, an increasing number of international players have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA. Below is a short list of foreign players who have won NBA awards or have been otherwise recognized for their contributions to basketball, either currently or formerly active in the league:Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Lithuania – 2014 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. First Soviet Union and one of the very first Europeans to sign contract with NBA club and to play solidly in the league, helping to lead the way for the internationalization of the league in the late 1990s.
Toni Kukoč, Croatia – 3-time NBA Champion with Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998), named in 2008 as one of the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Vlade Divac, Serbia – 2-time Olympic silver medalist, 2001 NBA All-Star, 2-time World Champion, 3-time European Champion, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania – 2011 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1995, 1999 European Player of the Year, 1985, 1997 Mr. Europa Player of the Year, Olympic gold medalist in 1988 with the Soviet Union and bronze medalist in 1992 and 1996 with Lithuania, 1996 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany – NBA Champion with Dallas Mavericks (2011), MVP of the 2002 World Championships and Eurobasket 2005, member of the all-tournament team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship, 2002–2006 and 2011 Euroscar winner, 2005 Mr. Europa, 2005 and 2011 FIBA Europe Player of the Year, 2007 NBA MVP, 2011 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, 2006 NBA Three-Point Shootout champion and 11-time NBA All-Star (entered the NBA in 1998)
Hedo Türkoğlu, Turkey – 2008 Most Improved Player Award winner, member of the all-tournament team in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (entered the NBA in 2000)
Pau Gasol, Spain – 2-time NBA Champion with Los Angeles Lakers (2009 & 2010), Three time NBA All-Star, 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2004 and 2009 Mr. Europa, 2006 World Championships MVP, 2008 and 2009 Euroscar and FIBA Europe Player of the Year, EuroBasket 2009 MVP, winner of the NBA Citizenship Award in 2012 (entered the NBA in 2001)
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia – EuroBasket 2007 MVP, 2007 FIBA Europe Player of the Year (drafted in 1999, played in the NBA from 2001 to 2011 before returning to Russia due to the lockout, returned in 2012 as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.)
Tony Parker, France – 4-time NBA Champion with the Spurs, 2007 NBA Finals MVP and 2007 Euroscar winner (entered the NBA in 2001)
Manu Ginóbili, Argentina – 4-time NBA Champion with San Antonio Spurs, 2008 Sixth Man Award winner, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors, gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics with Argentina (drafted in 1999, entered the NBA in 2002)
Yao Ming, China – First pick in the 2002 NBA draft and 7-time NBA All-Star (played in the NBA from 2002 to 2011)
Leandro Barbosa, Brazil – NBA Champion with Golden State Warriors (2015), 2007 Sixth Man Award winner (entered the NBA in 2003)
Andrea Bargnani, Italy – First pick in the 2006 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors (entered the NBA in 2006)
On some occasions, young players, most but not all from the English-speaking world, have attended U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA. Notable examples are:Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon (top draft pick in 1984, 2-time champion, 12-time All-Star, 1994 MVP, 1994 and 1995 Finals MVP, 1994 and 1995 Defensive Player of the Year, only player to receive the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Finals MVP award in the same season, and Hall of Famer)
Congolese Dikembe Mutombo (Four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft and 8-time NBA All-Star)
Dutchman Rik Smits (1988 second overall pick, 1998 NBA All-Star, played 12 years for the Indiana Pacers)
German Detlef Schrempf (Sixth Man Award winner in 1991 and 1992, 3-time All-Star)
Canadian Steve Nash (2005 and 2006 MVP)
Australians Luc Longley (3-time champion with the Bulls in the 1990s) and Andrew Bogut, (top draft pick in 2005).
Sudanese-born Englishman Luol Deng (2007 winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award)
Since 2006, the NBA has faced Euroleague teams in exhibition matches in the NBA Europe Live Tour and since 2009 in the Euroleague American Tour.
The 2013–14 season opened with a record 92 international players on the opening night rosters, representing 39 countries and comprising over 20% of the league The NBA defines "international" players as those born outside the 50 United States and Washington, D.C. This means that:Players born in U.S. possessions such as Puerto Rico and the U.S., Virgin Islands, most notably USVI native Tim Duncan, are counted as "international" even though they are U.S. citizens by birth, and may even have represented the U.S. in international competition (like Duncan).
U.S.-born players are not counted as "international" even if they were born with citizenship in another country and represent that country internationally, such as Joakim Noah.
List of current National Basketball Association head coaches
List of National Basketball Association head coaches
List of National Basketball Association player-coaches
List of NBA championship head coaches
List of foreign NBA coaches
Top 10 Coaches in NBA History