The NBA – a brief history


The NBA is the premier professional basketball league in the world, with 30 teams from the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) by owners of ice hockey arenas. In 1949, it merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) and changed its name to the National Basketball Association (NBA)1

The NBA’s popularity grew in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks to the emergence of stars like George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson. The league also expanded to new markets and introduced the shot clock and the three-point line. The Boston Celtics dominated this era, winning 11 championships in 13 years2

The 1970s saw more changes in the NBA, such as the merger with the American Basketball Association (ABA), which added four new teams and introduced the slam dunk contest and the red, white, and blue ball. The league also faced competition from other sports and struggled with low attendance and TV ratings. The decade was marked by parity, as eight different teams won the title2

The NBA entered a golden age in the 1980s, led by the rivalry between Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics. The two teams met in the finals five times and won eight of the 10 championships in the decade. The league also benefited from the arrival of Michael Jordan, who became a global icon and led the Chicago Bulls to six titles in the 1990s2

The 2000s saw the emergence of new dynasties, such as the San Antonio Spurs, who won four titles with Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich; the Los Angeles Lakers, who won three titles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and two more with Bryant and Pau Gasol; and the Miami Heat, who won two titles with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The league also expanded internationally, with more foreign players and fans2

The 2010s were dominated by the Golden State Warriors, who won three titles with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant; and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won one title with James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. The league also witnessed the rise of superstars like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic. The league also embraced analytics, social media, and social justice causes2

The current league champions are the Denver Nuggets, who defeated the Miami Heat in the 2023 NBA Finals 3

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