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National Basketball Association
Current season or competition:|
2014–15 NBA season
|No. of teams||30|
|Most recent champion(s)||San Antonio Spurs|
|TV partner(s)||ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV|
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the world's top men's professional basketball league. It is one of the major professional sports leagues of North America. There are 30 teams. 29 are in the United States and 1 (the Toronto Raptors) is in Canada. It is a member of USA Basketball (USAB),. The NBA is one of the 4 major North American professional sports leagues. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes. They have the highest average annual salary.
The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946. It was called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) in 1949. They then were known as the National Basketball Association. The league's head offices are in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Its international offices are in the same place. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Creation and merger
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed in 1946. Its founders were owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Canada. On November 1, 1946, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers. This was the first game played in NBA history. There were earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues. Examples are the American Basketball League and the NBL. The BAA was the first league to play in major cities. They played in large arenas. The level of play in the BAA was not very good. Competing leagues and other teams had similar talent. The Harlem Globetrotters are an example.
On August 3, 1949, the BAA combined with the NBL. The National Basketball Association was born. The new league had 17 teams. They came from cities of different sizes. The league got rid of several teams. It reached its smallest size of eight teams in the 1954–55 season. They were the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors (now Golden State Warriors), Minneapolis Lakers (now Los Angeles Lakers), Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings), Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (now Detroit Pistons), Milwaukee Hawks (now Atlanta Hawks), and Syracuse Nationals (now Philadelphia 76ers). Teams in small cities moved to larger cities.
Japanese-American Wataru Misaka broke the NBA color barrier in 1947–48. He played for the New York Knicks. But 1950 is recognized as when the NBA integrated. African Americans joined several teams. Those players included Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton, and Earl Lloyd. They joined three different teams. During the 1950s, the Minneapolis Lakers won five NBA Championships. George Mikan was their leader. He played the center position. The Lakers were the league's first dynasty. In 1954, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock. A team must try a shot in 24 seconds. If they cannot, the other team gets the ball.
The NBA contains 30 teams. 15 are in the Eastern Conference and 15 are in the Western Conference. Each conference has three divisions with 5 teams. Teams play other teams in their division often. All teams play all other teams in a season.
The Boston Celtics have won 17 championships. No other team has won more championships. Some teams have never won a championship. Another strong team is the Los Angeles Lakers. They have a television deal with Time Warner. The deal gives them lots of money.
Teams begin training camps in September. This allows the coaching staff to observe their players. Teams play preseason games. These do not count for a team's final season record. The weaker players get cut. Other players stay on the team and get paid. The NBA regular season begins in the last week of October. All teams play 82 games during a normal season. There are 41 home games and 41 road (away) games. Home games offer benefits to teams. They generally play better due to fan support and lack of travel. Teams play every other team during the regular season. The best players play in the NBA All-Star game in February. Fans vote for the starters. The coaches vote for the reserve (substitute) players. There is a pause in the season during the All-Star Game. Teams do not play games for a few days. Other events occur during the All-Star break. These include the Three-Point contest, the Skills course, and the Slam Dunk contest. Players participate in part due to fan interest.
Before the trade deadline, teams can trade players. This can cause changes in the balance of power. Team bosses want to get the best players for their team. Other bosses want to lower their costs. Trades often happen on the last day.
The regular season ends in the middle of April. Individual awards are given to players. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the player most important to his team. The Defensive Player of the Year award is given to the player who plays the best defense. There are a few other awards. The most recent MVP is LeBron James. He has won the award four times.
NBA Playoffs begin after the regular season ends. 16 teams play in the playoffs. Teams in the two conferences are assigned a seed number. The four top seeds are the division champions, plus the non-champion with the best record; those teams are seeded 1 to 4 by their regular-season record. The other four seeds, 5 to 8, are the next-best teams in each conference. Having a higher seed offers advantages. Teams with high seeds play weaker teams. They also (usually) play on their home court more often. However, a lower seed may play more games at home in a series than a higher seed, because home-court advantage is based solely on record, and not by seeding. All playoff rounds are best-of-7 series, meaning that a series can last up to 7 games, ending when a team has won 4 games. The first three rounds follow a 2-2-1-1-1 format. The team with the better record (usually, but not always, the higher seed) is home in games 1, 2, 5, and 7. The lower seed is home in games 3, 4, and 6.
To win a championship, a team needs to win four rounds. The fourth round is called the finals. A team from the Eastern Conference plays a team from the Western Conference. The team that wins this series is the NBA champion. The best player in the finals wins the Finals Most Valuable Player award. The finals are played in a 2-3-2 format. The team with the worse record plays three games in a row at home.
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