The Definitive Guide to the NBA: A Complete History

Apr 28, 2023 | Articles, Sports

The NBA basketball is one of the biggest sports on the planet right now, having the most talented stars and greatest teams entertaining millions of fans around the world with great basketball games.

Since the inception of basketball over 130 years ago, the sport has been enjoyed by people young and old, and has played a major role in culture, and features in fashion and films throughout the decades. What’s more, fans have a variety of bets they can place on the games, including those provided in the NBA playoffs bracket and similar offerings. They like to place these bets as way of adding to the excitement of watching the games live. When betting on the games, basketball fans can also benefit from exclusive offers and bonuses that help increase their chances of winning.

Here, we’ll take a look back at the key figures who have made the NBA what it is today.

The NBA’s Founding Fathers: A Look into the History of the League

The National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), created by a group of 11 team owners, including Walter A. Brown of the Boston Celtics. It was created as a professional division to rival the National Basketball League (NBL) which had been founded nine years earlier.

The first-ever BAA season consisted of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Stags, Cleveland Rebels, Detroit Falcons, New York Knickerbockers, Philadelphia Warriors, Pittsburgh Ironmen, St. Louis Bombers, Toronto Huskies and the Washington Capitols. Three years later in 1949, the BAA merged with the NBL to form the league as we now know it – the iconic NBA.

Now, 30 teams compete in the league thanks to the foundations that were laid down in the past years. The NBA season features an exciting competition that is beamed across 200 countries and territories around the world.

The Biggest Names in Basketball Through Time

In its long history, NBA basketball has seen some of the greatest players that graced the courts, with some entering its Hall of Fame as an ultimate honor for their talent and contribution to the sport.

Michael Jordan is perhaps the most well-known. He become a major celebrity in the sport as he is considered one of the greatest players the sport has ever known. Winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, he was also named MVP five times, and is an icon to millions of basketball fans.

LeBron James is the modern day star that NBA followers look up to. He has won the championship four times; two with Miami Heat, and one each with the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers, competing in the finals an astonishing ten times.

The legendary Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell are other names that will forever go down in basketball history as great players. Each one of them have left an indelible mark on the sport and have become idols to so many.

Bryant, who sadly passed away in 2020, has an incredible legacy. Not only a hero to millions of people but he also won five NBA championships with the Lakers, and clinched MVP on two occasions.

Magic Johnson also won the championship five times and was viewed as one of the most naturally gifted players in basketball, able to shine anywhere and everywhere on the court.

Bird was famed for his shooting and scoring hoops, and was a three-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics while Chamberlain is a record holder after scoring most points in a single game, shooting an incredible 100, and having the most rebounds at 2,149 in a single season.

Abdul Jabbar was a fine center, and won six championships. Russell was adored for his defensive capabilities and won 11 NBA championships during his playing career which spanned 1956 to 1969.

Reliving Iconic Moments of the NBA Past

The intense nature of the game and end-to-end action means basketball fans have been blessed with some of the most incredible moments in the history of sport.

NBA followers will recall Michael Jordan’s match-winning shot against the Utah Jazz, and who can forget Kobe Bryant’s amazing points haul against the Toronto Raptors. These are moments in time that fans could watch time and time again on platforms like YouTube. Video sharing websites are packed with iconic moments in basketball while highlights of every game today can be viewed at any time.

If you are keen to expand your knowledge on the sport, there are documentaries too, packed with insights that are available on Netflix. You can also subscribe to online blogs, or purchase magazines to relive some of the greatest moments in basketball.

Intense Rivalries Throughout NBA History

One of the most iconic and intense rivalries in NBA history is between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The two basketball powerhouses have faced each other in the finals a record twelve times, though just twice since the start of the 21st century.

The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons also went head-to-head regularly during the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the two teams battled for the Eastern Conference bragging rights.

The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have faced each other in the Atlantic Division countless of times, and their rivalry dates back to the seventies, while the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks clashed during their respective championship campaigns in the 2000s. Whenever these teams meet, you just have to sit back and enjoy the drama.

Recognizing Pioneers Who Changed the Game Forever

Basketball has come a long way since its inception in 1891. It has evolved from a simple game with two baskets into a global phenomenon which dominates sports coverage and the interest of fans.

James Naismith is considered the most influential figure in basketball history, as he is the man credited with creating the game over a century ago. Dribbling with the ball and passing were two moves introduced by the game’s founding father, and Naismith was responsible for many of the rules you still see implemented today.

Clarence ‘Pops’ Henderson, introduced the jump shot in 1934 and revolutionized the way players score points. Showing the way for players to shoot from far away, it boosted the offensive strategies of teams and ultimately made the game more exciting to watch.

Bob Cousy who played for the Boston Celtics during the fifties and sixties is credited with popularizing the fast break offense which meant teams started counter attacking on the opposition suddenly, at full pelt.

Without the influence of these players who changed the game forever, basketball and the NBA would not be what they are today.

The Expansion Era: Growing the League

The NBA Expansion Era began in the late sixties and early seventies as several new teams were added to the league roster. The Portland Trail Blazers, Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers and Kansas City-Omaha Kings all joined as new franchises to the league. This move also saw some teams relocated, with the Seattle Supersonics switching to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Diego Rockets becoming the Houston Rockets. The increased competition saw new fans following the sport, and great rivalries were created as more teams battled to win the famous title.

Changes to Basketball Rules and Regulations Over Time

As basketball has been around for well over a century, the rules and regulations around the sport have changed significantly over time. It may be hard to imagine that during the sports formative years, there were no backboards or shot clocks, and there were only nine players on each side.

In 1985, blackboards were introduced and this led to an increase in accurate shooting and increased point scoring. However, it wasn’t until 1954, five years into the formation of the NBA that shot clocks were introduced to speed up and boost the pace of the game.

The three-point line improved the game further when players were allowed to score from far away. This change was introduced in 1979. The modern game has reduced the number of personal fouls a player can commit in a single game as a way to lessen physical contact between players. This in turn also increases the opportunity for players to shoot and score. Basketball continues to evolve at a great rate and the changes throughout the years have led to even better games and match-ups.

How Technology Has Shaped Today’s Game of Basketball

Technology has had a major impact on all sports, particularly in the last decade. It has changed the way basketball is played and watched throughout the past years.

Instant replay technology has brought huge benefit to the NBA since its introduction back in 2002. Not only can fans re-watch particular moments when there was great display of skill and unbelievable point-scoring, but referees can also review any action at a point of interest in the game to make more accurate decisions.

New innovations are also helping coaches to track player movements, while the use of analysis has also proved useful when it comes to making tweaks to the composition and strategy of the team.

In terms of viewers, fans can now watch live games on their smartphones, tablets and laptops on the move, anywhere in the world, while the access to unlimited highlights has never been greater.

The Future of Professional Basketball

The NBA continues to develop at a rapid pace and its popularity among fans around the world continues to soar. Accessibility to the games has never been greater, and so it’s certain that the NBA will continue to strive to find new and interesting ways to bring fans closer to the action than ever before.

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Thomas B.