The Basics of the NBA

The NBA is one of the premier basketball leagues in the world, with teams throughout the United States and in Canada. It is known for its high-scoring games and star players, including LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kobe Bryant. It also has a number of off-court initiatives, such as its focus on diversity and social justice issues. In the past, its stars have used their popularity to raise money for a variety of causes.

The league began in the mid-1940s with just 17 teams, but soon began to grow, largely because of the popularity of the Chicago Bulls and its superstar, Michael Jordan. By the mid-1980s, further expansion had created 30 teams. The following year, the NBA introduced the 24-second shot clock to speed up play and encourage shooting. This changed the game dramatically, encouraging more three-point shots and a faster pace of play.

After a regular season that ends in April, the playoffs start, with a best-of-seven series between the winners of each conference to determine the champion. The final round, the NBA Finals, is held in June. The winner is awarded the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. All players and major contributors on the winning team receive a championship ring.

An annual event called the All-Star Game is played in February. The starting All-Stars are chosen by a combination of fan, player and media votes; head coaches select the reserves. Because players are voted in at their primary positions, All-Star games often feature players who would not normally play together. For example, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady started the 2007 game as point guards, even though they usually play shooting guard.

The NBA has a salary cap that limits how much a team can spend on its players. This prevents the richest owners from buying all the top talent and keeps the league competitive. It also helps keep the best players on the same team, which builds rivalries between them.

Players can earn multiple awards during the course of a season, such as the Most Valuable Player award and the Rookie of the Year award. Other awards include the Defensive Player of the Year and the Sixth Man of the Year, which is given to a player who provides value off the bench.

The NBA has a global presence, with games and shows broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories in 40 languages. Its international reach continues to grow, with the addition of teams in China and India, and with many young players coming from countries outside the United States. Increasingly, these players are attending college in the United States before joining an NBA team, although some have opted for professional club teams instead. During the season, games are typically televised on TNT, ESPN and ABC, with additional coverage on NBA-branded channels.