The NBA is perhaps one of the most recognised basketball leagues worldwide. Based in the United States, this league is comprised of teams from across the country, each playing against each other for the best league standings. This is a professional league where players receive handsome salaries for playing the game and players are known to receive the best average annual salary of all sportsmen. The NBA was first founded in New York City back in 1946 and was initially known as the BAA, or Basketball Association of America. The NBA name was adopted in 1949 when the National Basketball League merged with the BAA.
In the 1950s, the NBA was made up of 11 franchises and in 1954, it reached its smallest size of just 8 teams, all of which are still top teams today, including the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Royals/Kings, Detroit Pistons and the Nationals or 76ers. For many of the early years, the league was dominated by the Celtics, having won 8 straight championships between 1959 and 1966. The growth and expansion of the league continued as more and more fans became supportive of the sport. Today, there are 30 teams in the NBA, all competing for the title every season.
Throughout NBA history, teams had constant rivals, but no rivalry was as well known as that between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers. These teams were responsible for fans knowing the names of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two of the most popular p[layers to have ever played the sport. In 1979, these two rookie players opened the league game that lead to the growth of the interest amongst fans. In 1984, these same two teams played against each other on the NBA finals. Magic Johnson went on to earn the Lakers five titles and Bird lead the Celtics to three.
For many years, these two names were the talk of the town until Michael Jordan entered the ring. Jordon started his career with the Chicago Bulls in 1984 and created a stir with fans. The growing interest in the league lead to more teams being added until the league finally expanded to the current state of 30 teams.
In 1992, the Olympics allowed NBA players to compete and the Dream Team was the very first to use any NBA stars on the team. This team included the top playing Michael Jordan, along with Bird, Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley and others. There were 11 players on the 1992 Dream Team that have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1995, the NBA expanded once more to include teams from Canada, the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies eventually relocated to Tennessee, so the Raptors are the only Canadian team now in the NBA. To offer the same professional opportunity to women, the NBA created the Women’s National Basketball Association in 1996.
Over the years, the NBA turned out many household names such as Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Pierce and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.