The NBA is the world’s premier professional basketball league, featuring a diverse group of superstar players competing to win championships. The league’s regular season runs from October through April, followed by a four-round playoff elimination tournament that culminates in the NBA Finals. The NBA is known for its high-scoring games and rich tradition of game-changing plays, storied rivalries, and team dynasties. The NBA also has a commitment to social responsibility and invests through its NBA Cares program in internationally recognized youth-serving organizations.

There are 30 teams in the league, divided into two conferences of three divisions each. The division winners automatically qualify for the playoffs, and the top eight teams overall receive top seeds in the conference. The remaining teams are then ranked by their winning percentage. If two teams are tied, a series of tiebreakers are used to determine the final rankings.

During the season, each team plays each other twice within their own conference (24 total games per team) and once against each team in the other conference (16 total games). The regular season is followed by the NBA Play-In Tournament, which determines the seventh and eighth seeds in the Eastern and Western conferences.

The first round of the playoffs is best-of-seven, which helps give higher seeded teams a better chance to advance and reduces the likelihood of a surprise upset by a lower-seeded team. In addition, each game in a playoff series is played at home by the higher-seeded team, reducing the travel burden on visiting teams.

Since its founding in 1949, the NBA has been a global sports and entertainment brand. Its teams compete in the United States and around the world to attract fans, showcase world-class athletes, and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through the universal appeal of basketball.

NBA fans enjoy a wide variety of ways to follow the league, from the countless sports-network yelling shows to analytics-driven podcasts like Nate Duncan’s “Dunc’d On” to hundreds of TikTok channels that feature highlight reels. As the league continues to grow, it also has become increasingly committed to diversity and inclusion.

Despite the growing popularity of the NBA, the league’s unionized players face constant threats to their economic well-being. This can manifest in the form of racial caricature and outright racism, or simply as management looking for someone to blame when things go wrong. As the league enters its next CBA, Runstedtler argues that fans should view every story about “load management,” every leak, or every alleged controversy with a healthy amount of skepticism. As has been true in American history, the ugliest instances of racist caricature and abuse occur either when workers ask for equal pay or when businesses struggle and need someone to blame.