NBA History

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 15:44

NBA History

The history of the national basketball association.


The National Basketball Association, commonly referred to as the NBA, is the premier professional men's basketball league of North America. This league is composed of thirty teams, one from Canada and 29 from the United States. It was on June 6, 1946 that the league was started as the Basketball Association of America. After merging with their rival, the National Basketball League, in 1949, the league adopted its current name.

NBA history: early years (1940s and 1950s)

The new league was composed of 17 franchises that were located in both small and large cities, making use of small gymnasiums and large arenas. In 1950, some teams consolidated, resulting in just 11 NBA franchises. The consolidation process continued until 1954, during which there were just eight franchises left, all of them still in the league until now. These franchises include the Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Pistons, Nationals/76ers, and Royals/Kings.

The league's franchises in smaller cities moved to larger cities. In 1951, the Hawks relocated from the "Tri-Cities" (now called the Quad Cities) to Milwaukee, and then to St. Louis in 1955. In 1957, the Royals shifted from Rochester to Cincinnati, and in 1957, the Pistons moved from Fort Wayne to Detroit. During 1963, the Lakers moved to Los Angeles and the Warriors relocated to San Francisco. The year after that, the Nationals went to Philadelphia from New York, subsequently changing their moniker from "Nationals" to "76ers." Among the eight original franchises, only the Celtics and Knicks didn't relocate.

During the 1947-48 season, Wataru Misaka played for the New York Knicks, being the first Japanese-American to do so. Despite that, though, 1950 is considered as the year the league integrated. Various teams recruited African-American players, breaking the color barrier.

NBA history: expansion of the NBA (1960s)

During the 1960s, the NBA strengthened the move of the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia. It was also during this period that the first expansion franchise was formed. The Chicago Packers, now known as the Washington Wizards, were founded as the 9th NBA team in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, NBA expanded and added five teams to the league, which included the Seattle SuperSonics (now known as Oklahoma City Thunder), Chicago Bulls, San Diego Rockets (which moved to Houston after four years), Phoenix Suns, and Milwaukee Bucks.

In 1967, the league was threatened by the forming of the American Basketball Association (ABA). NBA had a bidding war with the ABA. The NBA won Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in bidding, who was then the most important college basketball star. But the ABA did get Rick Barry, who was then the leading scorer in the NBA. Four veteran referees also made the switch to the ABA: Earl Strom, Joe Gushue, John Vanak, and Norm Drucker.

NBA history: the rivalry of the NBA and ABA (1970s)

The ABA and the NBA continued their rivalry well into the 1970s. The ABA managed to sign several major stars, while the NBA expanded rapidly and aimed to tie up the most viable cities. During the period of 1966 to 1974, the NBA grew to have 18 franchises from just nine franchises beforehand. In 1970, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Buffalo Braves, and the Portland Trail Blazers all entered the NBA, bringing the franchises to a total of 17. In 1974, the New Orleans Jazz (which is now in Utah) joined the NBA too, making the franchises 18. After the 1976 season, the NBA and the ABA made an agreement that moved four ABA franchises to the NBA, bringing NBA franchises to a total of 22. The franchises added included the Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs.

NBA history: the Bird and Magic rivalry (1980s)

NBA added the three-point field goal of the ABA beginning in 1979. During that year, neophytes Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird joined the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics respectively. Their presence in the NBA resulted in the significant growth of fan interest. Johnson managed to lead the Lakers to win five titles, while Bird succeeded in leading the Celtics to three. It's also during the early 1980s that the Dallas Mavericks joined the NBA, being the 23rd franchise in the league.

NBA history: the rise of Michael Jordan and the globalization of the NBA (1990s)

In 1984, Michael Jordan became part of the league, playing for the Chicago Bulls. He made the league more popular, and this resulted in the growing interest of individuals. In fact, even cities started demanding their own teams. In 1988 and 1989, four new teams were added to the league, which included the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Hornets (now known as New Orleans Hornets).

During the 1990s, Michael Jordan, together with Scottie Pippen, led the Bulls to win six championships in a span of eight years. In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada, adding the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies to their roster of franchises. In 2001, though, the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis, leaving the Raptors as the only Canadian franchise in the NBA.

In 1996, the NBA founded a women's league, which became known as the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). In 1998, the NBA owners started a lockout that lasted for 191 days. San Antonio won the championship on the 25th of June 1999, having beaten the New York Knicks.

NBA history: the domination of the Western Conference without Jordan (2000s)

When the break-up of the Chicago Bulls happened in 1998, the Western Conference dominated the NBA, garnering seven titles out of the ten championships. David Robinson and Tim Duncan led the San Antonio Spurs to win the 1999 championship, while Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal paved the way for the Los Angeles Lakers to win three straight championships at the start of the 2000s. The Spurs won against the Nets in 2003, with the Detroit Pistons getting the title in 2004. During the off-season, the Miami Heat won O'Neal in a trade, and the Lakers and Bryant had no win in the playoff series until 2008. Before the start of the 2007-08 season, the Boston Celtics got Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen from Minnesota and Seattle. This bold move made the Celtics a contender for the title for the first time in so many years. As the Celtics began playing great games, other teams made major changes to their roster as well, doing major trades of their own.

Other improvements include the creation of the National Basketball Development League, which is now referred to as the NBA Development League. On the 29th of June 2006, the 2006-07 season featured a new official game ball, which marked the first change in the game ball for more than 35 years. The new ball is manufactured by Spalding and featured a new design. This ball was also made with new material that is said to offer players with a better feel, grip, and consistency than the original ball did. Despite the claims made by Spalding, though, many players disliked the new ball, saying that it was too slippery when wet and too sticky when dry. When the 11th of December 2006 rolled around, Commissioner Stern announced that the old ball will be used beginning the first of January 2007.