What is the NBA?


In a basketball game, players score points by shooting the ball through the hoop from anywhere within the D semi-circle surrounding the basket. The ball cannot be stopped or retrieved by the rival team while it is in play, and players cannot walk or run while holding the ball; doing so is considered double dribbling. There is also a five second rule during which time the team with the ball must inbound the ball from the backline of the court; otherwise, they will be penalized with a technical foul. Each team is allowed to have a maximum of five players on the court at one time, although substitutes are used throughout a match and will swap out regularly.

NBA games are played in large arenas with retractable roofs and up to 14,000 seats, and the league has a global reach thanks to its massive television and sponsorship deals. The average NBA team is valued at more than $1 billion, making the league one of the most lucrative and successful in world sports.

The season begins in October with training camp, a type of guess and check for the coaching staff to evaluate new players and scout their strengths and weaknesses. A series of preseason exhibition matches are then held before the regular season starts in November, with teams playing 82 regular-season games.

Around midway through the season, the regular season pauses for the annual NBA All-Star Game, where fans vote throughout the United States and Canada to select the best players in each conference. The top vote-getters in each conference are selected as captains of the All-Star Team, and the best player is named All-Star MVP.

There is no shortage of NBA-related content, from analytics-driven podcasts like Nate Duncan’s “Dunc’d On” to sports-network yelling shows and hundreds of YouTube and TikTok channels dedicated to nba highlight reels. But in the era of player activism, when Black athletes have become some of the highest-paid workers in the world and struggle to gain respect in American culture, the NBA must resist alluringly simplistic narratives that depict them as violent criminals or entitled brats who need to be put in their place.

The NBA’s information ecosystem runs on micro-scoops about meaningless transactions fed to celebrity reporters who mostly exist on Twitter, elbowing out anyone who wants to hold the league accountable or even cover it from a business angle. It is a system that benefits big market teams while marginalizing small-market franchises and allowing its unnamed sources to enjoy a level of protection that makes them nearly impossible to challenge. The result is a media environment that obscures the fact that the NBA is a for-profit corporation that exploits its players. This is a story of how that came to be and what it might mean for the future of the sport.