The National Basketball Association (NBA) is an American professional basketball league with 30 teams throughout the United States and Canada. It is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world and features some of the best players in the game. NBA teams compete in two conferences, each with a division and an overall standing. The top-ranking teams at the end of the regular season engage in a playoff to determine the championship. The top-ranked team receives the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, while each player and major contributor on the winning team receives a championship ring.
In addition, the league awards a Coach of the Year award and a Most Valuable Player award to its best players each season. Sporting News also awards an Executive of the Year award to the general manager deemed to have made the biggest difference for his or her team during the season.
Ticket sales are not the primary source of revenue for the NBA, but they are an important part of the sport’s marketing strategy. Other sources of revenue include television broadcasting rights, merchandise, and sponsorships. The NBA also maintains an NBA Foundation that contributes to community-based programs in urban areas.
Since its inception, the NBA has seen several significant changes in the way it operates. The original league had seventeen franchises, but a process of contraction began in 1950 and reduced the number to eleven teams. In 1954, the NBA introduced a 24-second shot clock to encourage more shooting and discourage stalling.
Over the course of a regular season, each team plays 82 games (60 home and 20 away). Teams are awarded 40 points for a win and 30 for a loss, with a tie counting as half a point. During the All-Star break, which takes place Feb. 17-22 this year, the NBA allows its players to rest and participate in a variety of events.
The top eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs, which is a best-of-seven series. The higher seed plays the lower-seeded team in each round, with the No. 1 seed facing No. 8 and so on.
In the early years of the NBA, the Boston Celtics led by center Bill Russell won 11 of 13 championships from 1956-57 to 1968-69, creating the league’s first dynasty. This era also saw the first black player in the league, Japanese-American Wataru Misaka, who played for the Knicks in 1947-48. Until the mid-1980s, most of the league’s teams were reluctant to sign African-American players because of the social stigma and racism in America. However, the New Orleans Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, and Seattle SuperSonics all became the first expansion teams to sign black players in 1987-88. These signings helped to change the face of the NBA. Currently, there are more than 400 active NBA players of color.