The Growing Popularity of the NBA

Basketball is a thrilling sport that combines speed, skill and athleticism to create an exciting game for fans to watch. The NBA has a rich history of game-changing plays, storied rivalries and team dynasties that has made it one of the most popular sports in the world. In addition to providing a top-tier entertainment experience, the NBA also reaches out to the community through its charitable work, with NBA Cares overseeing the league’s engagement in important social issues that matter to young people across the globe.

The National Basketball Association was founded in 1946, and currently has 30 teams divided into two conferences—the Eastern Conference (with an Atlantic Division, a Central Division and a Southeast Division) and the Western Conference (with a Northwest Division, a Southwest Division and a Pacific Division). The two best teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs and are seeded based on their regular season winning percentage. If a tie exists, standard NBA tiebreaker rules are used to determine the final playoff spot. In the early days of the playoff system, home-court advantage was determined by using a fixed bracket where each round consisted of a series of best-of-seven games, and a team advanced to the next round once it won four of seven games.

Since 1953, the top two teams in each division played a three-team round robin, and the division finals were changed to best-of-five play from best-of-three. The NBA also cut its playoff field from eleven to eight franchises in 1954, and the division semifinals were moved to a best-of-five format.

In 2006, the NBA began to change its playoff format—the top teams in each conference qualified for the playoffs but were seeded according to their regular season record. The first round of the playoffs was changed to a best-of-seven series, and the top teams were guaranteed to face each other in the semifinals, but not until the conference finals.

The NBA’s international presence is growing as well, with games and programming broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories in over 40 languages. The league’s NBA TV and NBA G League studio shows have also become popular worldwide.

Despite the increased popularity of the game, NBA injuries are still common. Henry et al studied the injury rates of professional basketball players and found that 94% of the injuries were to the knee, ankle or foot, with ankle and foot injuries causing the most missed games. The authors noted that the higher incidence of injuries compared to other major sports was likely due to the greater physical demands of the game and the fact that many players are larger individuals.

The NBA has many traditions, including a prestigious Most Valuable Player Award and an unofficial Executive of the Year award given by Sporting News. The NBA also has a strong commitment to community through its work with NBA Cares and through the creation of the WNBA, NBA G League and NBA Africa League.