The NBA is the premier professional basketball league for men. Its best players have achieved iconic status and adoration around the world, and its legends include names such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The regular season lasts from October through April, with each team playing 82 games. Teams start training camps in late September to evaluate their rosters, scout opponents and prepare for the rigorous schedule of 82 games. The top eight teams in each conference go to the playoffs, where they play a best of seven series. The top two seeds get home court advantage in the first round, and the winning team from each conference earns the right to play for the championship.

Throughout the year, a host of awards are presented to players and coaches. The most coveted are the Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards, which are given to the players who are judged by the media and fans to have been the league’s most valuable that season. The Sixth Man of the Year award goes to the league’s best reserve, and the Rookie of the Year award recognizes the most outstanding first-year player.

In addition to awarding individual honors, the NBA also recognizes teams and players who excel on special occasions. The All-Star Game, held every February, is one of the league’s biggest events. In addition, the All-Defensive and All-Rookie teams are selected each year.

While the NBA has reduced back-to-back games and limited travel to keep its stars fresh, some star players still miss many games due to injury. The league has made it clear to its owners that any absences that go beyond a few games will be investigated, and it can penalize teams more than $1 million per missed game.

Each team is allotted a certain number of team fouls during a quarter, and once that limit is reached, the opposing team gets two free throws for each additional team foul committed in that period. Overtime does not count against a team’s foul total.

If a defender crowds a dribbler out of his or her established path, the dribbler must be in control of the ball at all times. If contact is illegal, the offending defender is charged with an offensive foul (Rule 12-B-Section I).

The NBA stopped using the jump ball to start the second through fourth quarters in 1975. The loser of the coin toss receives possession at the other end of the floor to begin those periods, and the winner takes the ball to start the fifth and final quarters. The winner of the jump ball to start the first period is awarded a game-ending turnover (Rule 11-B-Section I). The same rules apply in the playoffs for starting possessions.