Basketball is one of the world’s most popular sports. It is played by men and women of all ages, with tournaments held for boys and girls at every level of play from grassroots to international competition. As the sport’s popularity and revenues have grown, so too has its global reach.
The NBA is a professional basketball league with 30 teams in the United States and one in Canada. Each year, the best teams compete for the championship. The victors of the Eastern and Western conferences meet in a best-of-seven series called the NBA Finals. The winning team is awarded the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and each player and major contributor (coach, general manager, etc) on the winning team receives a championship ring.
The league was founded in 1948 and originally had 17 teams. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, the NBA consolidated teams by merging them or sending them to other cities. The NBA also introduced the 24-second shot clock to encourage more shooting and discourage stalling.
As the NBA continued to expand, it began attracting superstar college players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell. By the late 1970s, many of the league’s most famous stars were beginning to retire or to be traded. This allowed teams such as the Celtics to win the championship again and again.
In 1999, the Lakers three-peated while the Spurs won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2007. After a brief lockout, the NBA introduced salary caps in 2002 to reduce the financial advantage of large market teams over smaller ones. In addition to the regular season and playoffs, the NBA also conducts a number of special events including the All-Star Game and the draft.
During the regular season, each team plays 56 games against the other 29 in its conference and the top eight teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. The top two teams in each division then enter a round-robin series of four games against each other (each team plays all the other seven teams twice). The winners of each of these series advance to the division semifinals, which are then followed by a best-of-seven game series for the championship.
Each spring, the 14 non-playoff teams in the NBA participate in the draft lottery, which uses ping-pong balls drawn in an audited event to determine the first, second and third picks. The teams then select in order of their record from last to first, with the exception of the last place team, which chooses in reverse order of their finish in the regular season standings. The NBA also awards several honors, including the Coach of the Year and the NBA Most Valuable Player award. The league has also established an Unsung Hero Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a positive impact on the community. The NBA also holds annual charity events and has a youth development program. The NBA has a total revenue of more than $9 billion and is the most valuable sports league in the world by far.