The NBA makes its return to Charlotte as the Charlotte Bobcats become the league's 30th franchise. They play their first season at the Charlotte Coliseum.
This season also makes the first year of the NBA's new divisional alignments, separating the league into six divisions of five teams instead of the previous four divisions of varying numbers of teams. As part of this realignment, the New Orleans Hornets move from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.
During All-Star Weekend Quentin Richardson won the Three-point Shootout, Steve Nash won the Skills Challenge, and Diana Taurasi, Dan Majerle, and Shawn Marion won the Shooting Stars Competition—all Phoenix Suns victories. Amar'e Stoudemire made it to the final round of the Slam Dunk Contest, but failed to complete the sweep for the Suns.
Prior to the start of this season, Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat after his reported fallout with former Laker teammate Kobe Bryant. Fans have sensed this, along with the Pistons championship, as a possible end of dominance by the Western Conference. They also witnessed the loss of head coach Phil Jackson and replacement Rudy Tomjanovich as the Lakers have missed out on the NBA playoffs for the fifth time in their history. However, the Western Conference has continued its domination in the regular season; since then all playoff-bound teams in the West have either won 50 or more games, or were above .500 at the end of the season, in contrast to the Eastern Conference, where on average, three teams have sub-.500 records.
During the offseason the Phoenix Suns signed unrestricted free agent Steve Nash. With the addition of coach Mike D'Antoni and his offensive-minded strategy combined with Nash's playmaking skills Phoenix went on to win 33 games more than year before. The Suns had the best overall record in the NBA, Nash won the MVP Award and D'Antoni won the Coach of the Year Award.
An early regular season game between Detroit and Indiana at The Palace of Auburn Hills was disrupted with 45.9 seconds to go as a major altercation broke out between players and fans. This resulted in record breaking suspensions, most notable of which was Ron Artest who received the longest suspension in NBA history (73 games plus the playoffs). The NBA also overhauled its league-wide security policy.
The Bulls make their first appearance in the playoffs since their 1998 championship season. The Bulls postseason berth followed an 0–9 start to the season with the Bulls having one of the youngest rosters in NBA history.
The Phoenix Suns started an unofficial league tradition of a mostly exposed hardwood floor, with a darker varnish on the outside of the three-point area. They also put their team website on the sideline, which other teams followed suit in the coming seasons.
Ben Gordon won the Sixth Man Award, making him the first rookie to ever win the award.
The NBA Finals reaches seven games for the first time since 1994.
Orlando Magic rookie Dwight Howard became the first and only player straight out of high school to start all 82 games in his rookie season. He also became the youngest to average a double-double, the youngest to average 10 rebounds in a season, and the youngest to record at least 20 rebounds in a game. However, Charlotte Bobcats rookie Emeka Okafor won Rookie of the Year that season. While Okafor's career was respectable, Howard's career gradually skyrocketed into four All-Star appearances (to date), two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and four All-NBA Team selections.