The NBA is one of the world’s biggest sports leagues with a $24 billion TV deal, a $1 billion Nike deal, a burgeoning number of corporate sponsors, rapid international growth, and an average team value exceeding $1 billion. It’s also a league of superstar players, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan, who have all won multiple championships. These factors have made the NBA a top sports destination, attracting global attention.

The original NBA had 17 teams, which was too many so it merged teams over the years until it was down to eight in 1953-1954. The league also introduced the 24-second shot clock to speed up the game and encourage shooting. This was followed in 1979 by the three point shot, which greatly increased scoring opportunities and made the game more exciting to watch.

In April, the regular season ends and the top eight teams from each conference enter the playoffs. Seeding is determined by regular season record with a tiebreaker system used as needed. The two division champions play each other in the first round, then the winners of each quarterfinal series advance to a best-of-seven semifinal, and the two semifinalists meet in a best-of-seven championship series.

During the playoffs, there are several awards given to the best teams and players. The NBA Most Valuable Player award is given to the player who was voted as the best by fans and coaches throughout the season. The NBA Coach of the Year and Sporting News Executive of the Year awards are also given to outstanding head and assistant coaches as well as general managers.

In February, the regular season pauses for the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans vote throughout the United States and Canada to choose the All-Star Game captains and determine the rest of the starters. The All-Star game features a team-based draft, and the first pick is awarded to the league’s best player, as voted on by fans and coaches.

In 2020, the NBA introduced a new playoff format called the play-in tournament to add more intrigue to the end of the regular season. The tournament includes the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th teams from each conference with the best winning percentage. Previously, only the 8th and 9th seeds automatically qualified for the playoffs. With the introduction of the play-in tournament, these teams have to earn their spot in a high-pressure, playoff-like environment. The results of the tournament can help them improve their playoff chances in 2021.