National Basketball Association
Current season:
2019-20 season
National Basketball Association logo
The current NBA logo since 2017.
League information
Sport Basketball
Competition level Professional
Founded June 6, 1946
(as the BBA)
Country Flag of the United States United States
Headquarters 645 Fifth Avenue
Manhattan, New York
United States [1]
Inaugural season 1946-47 sesason
No. of teams 30:
29 (Flag of the United States United States )
1 (Canada Flag Canada)
Media NBA Entertainment
TV Partners ESPN
Key People
Commissioner Adam Silver
Mark Tatum
Minor league NBA G League
Players Union NBAPA
Playoffs/Championship format
Playoffs NBA Playoffs
NBA Finals
Championship history
Most recent Toronto Raptors (1st title)
Most titles Boston Celtics (17 titles)

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is an American professional basketball league and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America, which is recognized by FIBA (also known as the International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.

The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with its rival National Basketball League (NBL). 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.


The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by the owners of the major sports arenas in the Northeast and Midwest, most notably Madison Square Garden in New York City. 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, though, the quality of play in the BAA was not obviously better than in competing leagues or among leading independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance the 1947 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 November 1, 1946, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers which the NBA now regards as its first game to be played in the league's history. Ossie Schectman scored the first basket of that game, which makes his basket the first in NBA history.

Following the 1949 season, 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 Knickerbockers (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 and then to St. Louis; the Royals from Rochester to Cincinnati, the Pistons from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Detroit.

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 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. The majority (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 its first dynasty.

To liven up play, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954.

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 and rebounding. Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the great individual rivalries in the history of team sports.

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.

In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association. The leagues engaged in a bidding war for talent. 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.

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 most viable cities. 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 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.

Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. By 1989, further expansion had raised the number of teams in the league to 27. During the 1990s, Jordan went on to lead the Bulls to six titles. (1991-1993,1996-1998)

The 1990s also saw greater globalization. The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. 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. An increasing number, though, have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA, such as 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2006 World Championships MVP Pau Gasol of Spain, first pick in the 2002 NBA Draft Yao Ming of China, 2002 World Championships and Eurobasket 2005 MVP Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, and 2004 Olympic Tournament MVP Manu Ginobili of Argentina. Today, young players from the English-speaking world tend to attend U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA (notable examples are 2005 and 2006 MVP Steve Nash, a Canadian, and 2005 top draft pick Andrew Bogut of Australia), while other international players generally come to the NBA from professional club teams. The NBA is now televised in 212 nations in 42 languages.

In 1996, the NBA created a women's league, the Women's National Basketball Association, and in 2001 created an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League.

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, which were all played in early 1999.

In 1999, the San Antonio Spurs became the first former ABA team to win the NBA championship. It was the team's first championship win.

Since the breakup of the Chicago Bulls championship roster in the summer of 1998, the Western Conference has dominated. The Los Angeles Lakers of coach Phil Jackson and the San Antonio Spurs of Gregg Popovich combined to make 13 Finals in 16 seasons, with 10 titles. 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 lose in five games to the Detroit Pistons.

The league's image was marred by a violent incident between players and fans in a November 2004 game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. In response, players were suspended for a total of 146 games with $11 million total lost in salary, and the league tightened security and limited the sale of alcohol.

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 summer 2004, 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 PierceRay 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 their 16th NBA championship 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 free agents 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 MarionJason KiddJason 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 DurantRussell 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. Off the court, commissioner David Stern retired on February 1, 2014, 30 years to the day after taking office. He was succeeded by his deputy, Adam Silver.

After four seasons with the Miami HeatLeBron James returned to Ohio upon the 2014–15 season to once again play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He became the head of the team and led them to their second Finals appearance with the help of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in six games, led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, also known as the Splash Brothers. The following year, the Warriors obtained the best season record in NBA history by win percentage, finishing the season 73–9, further establishing their dominance within the league. The 2016 NBA Finals became a rematch between the two teams. It showed the Cavaliers win their first NBA Championship as well as become the first team to return from a 3–1 series deficit in the Finals. In the 2016–17 season, the Warriors benefited from the recruitment of Kevin Durant, who had joined the team as a free agent in 2016. He became the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 NBA Finals and led the team to another Championship victory in five games over the Cavaliers, then again in 2018 when the Warriors won in a four-game sweep against the Cavaliers.

During free agency in 2018, LeBron James made the decision to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavaliers were unable to perform in the 2018–19 season, finishing second to last in their conference after four consecutive Finals appearances. However, the Warriors once again returned to the Finals for the fifth straight year where they faced the Toronto Raptors, a team that had never previously made it to the Finals. Led by Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors won their first NBA championship, defeating the Warriors in a total of six games.

On March 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league held a conference call among the NBA owners regarding the formulation of a plan should the disease become more serious. The same day, the Oklahoma City Thunder postponed their game and the Warriors cancelled all home games in the foreseeable future. Eventually, the NBA suspended the remainder of its season "until further notice" after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. After the suspension of the season, the Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban started off the initiative of helping pay arena workers by setting up a payment procedure for the hourly workers, which was also joined by players and other NBA personnel. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have cut the players' salaries by 25 percent due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Today, the NBA has reached 30 franchises and continues to evolve as one of the premier sports leagues in the world.


The National Basketball Association originated in 1946 with 11 teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations currently consists of 30 teams, 29 of which are based in the United States and 1 in Canada. The Boston Celtics are the most successful franchise with 17 NBA Finals wins. The next most successful franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers, who hold 16 championships. The Toronto Raptors won the most recent championship, their first.

The current league organization divides the teams into two conferences. Each conference has three divisions, and each division has five teams. The current divisional alignment was introduced in the 2004-05 season.


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, if needed) 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 last week of October.

n the regular season, each team plays 82 games, which are divided evenly between home and away games. Schedules are not identical for all teams. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year, teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times, and teams in the other conference twice apiece. A team can therefore have a relatively easy or difficult schedule, depending on the division and conference it is located in. Following the recent changes to the National Hockey League's scheduling format, the NBA is now the only major league in North America in which all the teams play each other during the regular season, and where a season ticket holder can see every team in the league come to town in any one season.

In February, the NBA regular season is interrupted to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans are balloted throughout the United States, Canada and through 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, East faces West 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 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge game, which pits the best rookies and the best second-year players against each other; the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, a competition between players to see who is the best three-point shooter; and the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk contest, to see which player dunks the ball in the most entertaining way.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the league's trade deadline. 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 postseason teams. The Sixth Man of the Year Award is given to the best player coming off the bench (not starting for his team). 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 postseason 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.


see: NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs always begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs. The top three seeds for each conference are determined by taking the winners of the conference's three divisions and ranking them by regular season record. The remaining five seeds are determined by taking the five teams with the next-best records from among the non-division winning teams in the conference. However, the seeding system has one feature that is unusual in North American sports; division champions do not necessarily have home-court advantage in the playoffs. Although the playoff brackets are not reseeded, home-court advantage is based strictly on regular-season record, without regard to whether a team won its division.

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 (seeded thus 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.

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 second 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 of the NBA Playoffs, the best of seven series follows a 2-2-1-1-1 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. The final round (NBA Finals) followed 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 3-5, from the 1985 NBA Finals to the 2014 NBA Finals. The 2-3-2 format was chosen in 1985 to reduce the amount of cross-country traveling between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers who met frequently in the finals.

The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals, and it 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, which nearly always goes to a member of the winning team, though not by rule. There has been only one exception to date: Jerry West won the award in 1969 (the award's first season) even though his Los Angeles Lakers did not win the championship.

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. This might be in relation to the 2006 playoffs when Dallas and San Antonio, the two best Western Conference Teams, faced each other in the semifinals. This new format ensures that the two best teams will not meet until the Conference finals.

Important people

Presidents and commissioners



Rules named after a player


See also

External links

National Basketball Association
Comissioners Maurice Podoloff (1946-1963) • Walter Kennedy (1963-1975) • Larry O'Brien (1975-1984) •
David Stern (1984-2014) • Adam Silver (2014-present)
Teams Atlanta HawksBoston CelticsBrooklyn NetsCharlotte HornetsChicago Bulls
Cleveland CavaliersDallas MavericksDenver NuggetsDetroit PistonsGolden State Warriors
Houston RocketsIndiana PacersLos Angeles ClippersLos Angeles LakersMemphis GrizzliesMiami HeatMinnesota TimberwolvesMilwaukee BucksNew Orleans PelicansNew York KnicksOklahoma City ThunderOrlando MagicPhiladelphia 76ers Phoenix SunsPortland Trail Blazers
Sacramento KingsSan Antonio SpursToronto RaptorsUtah JazzWashington Wizards
Affiliations NBA ArenasNBA G LeagueNBA Players Association
Media & Merchandise NBA.comNBA TVNBA StoreNBA in Video games
Personnel PlayersHead CoachesOwners
Annual events SeasonsAll-Star GameDraftSummer LeagueNBA PlayoffsNBA Finals
NBA Arenas
Arenas Philips Arena (Atlanta Hawks)TD Garden (Boston Celtics)Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets)Time Warner Cable Arena (Charlotte Hornets)United Center (Chicago Bulls)Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland Cavaliers)American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks)Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets)The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit Pistons)Oracle Arena (Golden State Warriors)Toyota Center (Houston Rockets)Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indiana Pacers)Staples Center (Los Angeles Clippers & Los Angeles Lakers)FedEx Forum (Memphis Grizzlies)American Airlines Arena (Miami Heat)Target Center (Minnesota Timberwolves)Bradley Center (Milwaukee Bucks)Smoothie King Center (New Orleans Pelicans)Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks)Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City Thunder)Amway Center (Orlando Magic)Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia 76ers)Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix Suns)Moda Center (Portland Trail Blazers)Golden 1 Center (Sacramento Kings)AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs)Air Canada Centre (Toronto Raptors)Vivint Smart Home Arena (Utah Jazz)Verizon Center (Washington Wizards)
NBA seasons
1940's 1946-471947-481948-491949-50
1950's 1949-501950-511951-521952-531953-541954-551955-56
1960's 1960–611961–621962–631963–641964–651965–661966–671967–681968–691969–70
1970's 1970–711971–721972–731973–741974–751975–761976–771977–781978–791979–80
1980's 1980–811981–821982–831983–841984–851985–861986–871987–881988–891989–90
1990's 1990–911991–921992–931993–941994–951995–961996–971997–981998–991999-00
2000's 2000–012001–022002–032003–042004–052005–062006–072007–082008–092009–10
2010's 2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016-172017-182018-192019-20
2020's 2020-212021-222022-232023-242024-252025-262026-272027-282028-292029-30


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