The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men’s professional basketball league headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1946, it now has 30 teams in the United States and one in Canada. The NBA is widely considered to be the premiere league in the world of professional sports, and has attracted some of the most famous athletes in history, including basketball legends Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. The NBA has been credited with pioneering the use of team-oriented play and establishing player rights. The league has also been influential in influencing the global popularity of basketball and its cultural impact, as well as its contribution to the development of other forms of athleticism such as gymnastics and track and field.
During the era of the 1980s and 90s, the NBA struggled financially and saw declining ratings. But it soon rebounded under the leadership of commissioner David Stern, who helped transform the NBA into an international entertainment company. The emergence of superstar players such as Jordan, Bird and Johnson gave the NBA newfound credibility, and the popularity of the game soared worldwide.
Each season, the NBA plays 82 regular-season games in each of its two conferences. Each of the 30 teams is divided into two divisions of five teams each, and they compete with each other for their conference’s division title as well as a chance to advance to the playoffs.
The final series of the season is called the NBA Finals, and it pits the winners of each conference against each other in a best-of-seven contest. The winning team is awarded the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, and all players and major contributors on the winning team receive a championship ring.
Each February, the NBA pauses the regular season for its annual All-Star Game. Fans vote throughout the United States and Canada to select the starting lineup, and coaches choose the rest of the 14 All-Stars. The All-Star Game has become one of the most popular events in NBA history, and it serves as a showcase for the league’s top talent.
Each spring, the league conducts a draft lottery – comprised of ping-pong balls drawn in an audited event – to decide the order in which the 14 teams who do not qualify for the postseason select their first-round picks in the annual NBA Draft. The teams with the lowest records pick first, and then select in reverse order of their regular-season standings, with the top 14 picks in each conference selecting last. The draft lottery is an integral part of the NBA’s compensation system, as it allows teams to acquire talent without sacrificing any of their own high-round selections. It has also been credited with keeping the NBA competitive with other leagues. As a result, the NBA has developed an impressive roster of players from around the world. The league also maintains a number of international tournaments.