The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men’s professional basketball league. There are 30 teams in the NBA divided into two conferences based on location, with each team playing its opponents within its conference. The teams that win their division qualify for the playoffs, where they compete against other playoff teams for a chance to play in the NBA Finals. The league also recognizes individual accomplishments through its awards.
The regular season runs from October through April, with a four-week break for the All-Star game in February. The All-Star game is a fan-voted event that features a combination of players selected by fans and coaches. The best players in each conference are named All-Star starters, while the other 14 players participate in an all-star draft to fill out the rest of the roster. The player with the most points earned during the All-Star game is crowned MVP.
Roster construction is a key element in the success of any basketball team, and many past champions have boasted a barrage of defensive talent or deep benches filled with shooters. While these strategies can be successful, they can also be overly rigid and limit a team’s offensive creativity. This is why the NBA recently instituted a new rule that rewards teams that run efficient transition offenses. This “take foul” rule imposes a heightened penalty on the defense when they foul an offense while trying to make a play on the ball, but does not apply during the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
This season’s playoffs have been full of surprises, including the 8-seed Denver Nuggets beating the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in seven games and the Boston Celtics advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers. The second-seeded Miami Heat defeated the New York Knicks in six games, while the Los Angeles Clippers were sent packing after losing to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
The NBA has a history of contraction and expansion. The league began in 1946 with seventeen franchises located in a mix of large cities and smaller towns. The following year, the NBA expanded from nine to fourteen teams, introducing the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, San Diego Rockets (who moved to Houston four years later), Milwaukee Bucks, and St. Louis Hawks. The last of the expansion franchises left in 1958, when the Minneapolis Lakers shifted to Los Angeles and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia. The NBA then consolidated to its current eleven teams in the late 1950s, with the Minnesota Lakers moving to Los Angeles and the Minneapolis / St. Paul Rasmussens to Detroit. The NBA then added the Washington Wizards in 1971 and the Sacramento Kings in 1974.