The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in the United States and Canada. The league features 30 teams, divided into two conferences of three divisions each. The conference champions play a best-of-seven series to determine the championship, known as the NBA Finals. The victors of the NBA Finals receive the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The league was founded in 1946 and was originally based in New York City. After the NBA relocated to Los Angeles in 1948, it became one of the world’s most popular sports leagues. The NBA thrived during the 1980s and 1990s under commissioner David Stern, who helped transform the league into an international entertainment company through aggressive marketing. He also introduced salary caps for players, lucrative broadcasting rights for network and cable television, and other innovations. The NBA’s popularity waned in the early 2000s, however, due to low attendance and drug-related player problems, as well as competition from the NFL and college football.
In addition to its regular season games, the NBA features a number of annual events and special occasions. The NBA All-Star Game is a midseason exhibition that pits the best players from each conference against each other. The All-Star weekend includes several other events, such as a Skills Challenge and 3-point Contest. The NBA Draft is the process of selecting college and international basketball players who will become members of NBA teams. The first two rounds of the draft are based on team records from the previous season; the remaining rounds are determined by a lottery among the worst-performing teams.
Following the All-Star break, the regular season begins with 82 games over six months. The league’s In-Season Tournament, which features four groups of five teams, will add 16 additional games to the schedule. The winner of the tournament will receive a $500,000 bonus and will be added to the roster of the NBA All-Star Game.
The NBA has a long list of all-time greats, including Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and LeBron James. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are tied for the most championships, with 17 each.
The NBA has a large global audience and is working to expand its presence worldwide. Its international business accounts for 10% of total NBA team and league revenue, and it is on track to hit a record high this year. The league is investing in a three-pronged approach to global growth, including airing games during prime time in select markets and increasing outreach programs for kids.