The NBA Is a Global Brand



The National Basketball Association is the world’s premier men’s professional basketball league, known for its spectacular scoring games and high-profile stars. Its regular season runs from October through April, and the playoffs culminate in the NBA Finals. The NBA is also a cultural force, exporting its games and content to fans in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe.

Like most American business, the NBA has a rich history of racism and other forms of discrimination. But the league, with its recognizable stars, has also worked to dismantle some of the ugliest forms of racial caricature that have marred the sport’s image. The NBA’s embrace of Black culture, from the wattage of Magic Johnson’s smile saving the Lakers from years of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s dour workmanship to Allen Iverson’s hip-hop influence, has helped it to retain and attract a broad audience.

In the current era of hyper-competitive sports, players are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s permissible on the court and in the media. The NBA has embraced the spectacle of players wearing kilts in celebration of Black culture, and it has tolerated players speaking out about police brutality, immigration policies and terrorism.

But the league has always struggled to balance these demands with its desire to attract and keep fans. The polarization of the modern NBA reflects the broader polarization of America’s politics and economy, with some fans turning to the NBA to escape the divisiveness and division in their daily lives. The NBA is a global brand, and its games and shows are broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

NBA rosters are constructed with a mix of star power, depth and versatility. The composition of past championship teams varies widely, from starting lineups loaded with defensive talent to deep benches that feature talented shooters. The best NBA rosters are designed to win the most games in the playoffs, and a team with a strong defensive structure will be able to make up for its weaknesses in other areas.

The top six teams in each conference automatically qualify for the playoffs. They are seeded based on their winning percentage, and home-court advantage is given to the higher seed in each round (i.e., the first-seeded team hosts the second-seeded team in the semifinals and conference finals). Ties are broken based on head-to-head record and then by intra-conference record.

The 14 teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs enter the draft lottery each spring, with three Lottery balls drawn from a pool of ping-pong balls in an audited event to determine the first, second and third picks. The remaining picks are ordered in reverse order of regular season finish. Teams may move up or down in the draft order with trades. Each year, the NBA awards a number of individual and team-based awards, including the Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year. Athletes are also recognized for their community involvement with an NBA Cares award.