Basketball League


The National Basketball Association, commonly known as the NBA, is a private professional basketball league that began in the United States on June 6, 1946. Forty-four years later, in 1990, teams from Canada joined with the aim of expanding the passion and spectacle generated by basketball. Being a private institution, but after reaching an agreement, NBA players have total freedom to compete internationally after the agreement reached in 1989 by the private U.S. entity, FIBA and the U.S. Federation.

Basketball has never been considered a successful sport, because years before its establishment thanks to the NBA in the United States, only ice hockey and boxing had the support and drive of the vast majority of American citizens. However, a series of renowned owners and businessmen in the United States decided to use their different properties and sports stadiums to give life to the NBA and basketball in general. In this way, a new sport began to have a place in a society fanatical about the spectacle and adrenaline generated by the exchange of blows, in this case, of baskets.

Los Philadelphia Warrios se hicieron con el título en la campaña 1946/1947 | Fuente: NBA
The Philadelphia Warrios won the title in the 1946/1947 season | Source: NBA

As a result, basketball emerged strongly and became one of the favorite pastimes of all those who consumed it for the first time. The passage of time only enhanced what had already become a king of sports; basketball continued to grow, crossed the pond, broke down barriers and generated new rivalries very different from those created years earlier by the leading sports, ice hockey and boxing.

Beginnings, teams and impact

On June 6, 1946, a contract was signed that gave shape to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), which two years later, in 1948, became known as the NBA, which today is considered the best basketball league in the world. Despite becoming one of ice hockey's main competitors, the first head of the NBA was Maurice Podoloff, who also orchestrated the National Hockey League (NHL); basketball and field hockey were always destined to intertwine hands on numerous occasions throughout history. In addition, eleven cities were chosen to host a team to represent them: the U.S. East Coast, New York, Chicago, Boston, Providence, St. Louis, Cleveland, the capital, Washington D.C., Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. With the eleven American states already chosen, the teams that gave meaning to the first NBA competition were the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia Warriors, the New York Knicks, the Washington Capitols, the Providence Steamrollers, the Toronto Huskies, the Chicago Stags, the St. Louis Bombers, the Cleveland Rebels, the Detroit Falcons and, finally, the Pittsburgh Ironmen.

Of the teams that began their participation in the private American basketball league, only three have lasted to date: the Warrios, the Celtics and the Knicks. Consequently, they are three of the historic and most successful teams in the history of the sport, with the Boston and NY franchises being the only ones that have not moved from one city to another. Currently and for the last 16 years (2004-2005), the NBA is made up of a total of thirty franchises that play their games in two conferences, the East and the West.

División de las conferencias | Foto: Gurú del Basket
Division of the conferences | Photo: Gurú del Basket

Despite the success that all NBA franchises have to live with today, hard work and effort have led this private league to become a reference. The mix of big city teams and teams based in counties with small populations have contributed to a remarkable fan base in each and every state in the USA. Likewise, the presence from the beginning of players who have become historic in the long run has also caused this phenomenon to transcend borders and become something unprecedented in the history of the American continent.

Ten years after its creation, in 1956, Bill Russel joined the Boston Celtics, a differential player who would later contribute to the Boston Celtics' success.He would later contribute his bit to continue to enlarge and widen the wake of one of the most followed sports in the United States and one of the competitions with the largest number of fans around the world.

Rivalry with the American Basketball Association

On a path full of triumphs and successes, in 1967 the NBA came up against one of its main threats, the American Basketball Association (ABA), a league created to try to relegate the National Basketball Association to second place. However, after a struggle that lasted for several years, the arrival of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a promising college player who had aroused the interest of both entities, to the NBA was an injection of energy for the emissaries of what is now considered one of the most demanding basketball leagues in the world. Subsequently, the ABA continued to build its future with the inclusion of young players or NBA veterans. The continued growth and expansion of the NBA led to the dissolution of the ABA, the quintessential competitor to the best basketball league in the world.

Uno de los equipos de la ABA | Fuente: Blog Talks Radio
One of the ABA teams | Source: Blog Talks Radio

All-Star Game: the show always comes first

Spectacle and fun have become two ingredients that should be implicit in all sports. Therefore, the NBA, aware of the importance of having an increasing number of fans, decided to establish a mini-tournament that would concentrate the best players, the most showy and the best shooters in what today is considered the All-Star Game. Today, the players who play in the All-Star Game (East vs. West) are chosen by the fans, who vote via the Internet for the most outstanding players and, therefore, for those they want to see in this game designed to entertain.

With the All-Star Game, the fans are once again involved in the different decisions that are made when it comes to organizing and implementing new game modes. It is also a way to ensure that the players who play in the game generate interest, as they have been chosen by the fans.

Golden era, impact and titles

The NBA's golden years came in the 1979-1980 season, because years later, among many others, Michael Jordan stood out, who became a differential factor when it came to congregating a greater number of people in the different basketball courts of the country. In addition, at the Barcelona Olympic Games (1992), the European continent was able to enjoy for the first time a Dream Team composed, for the most part, of NBA players among whom Jordan, Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley and John Stockton shone. At the same time, the incorporation of European players such as Pau Gasol or Tony Parker ended up catapulting the rise of a competition destined to be immersed in a constant and continuous improvement. At the same time, the arrival of Yao Ming aroused interest in different Asian countries.

The most successful team in the American competition is the Boston Celtics, not only for being the only one (along with the Knicks) that has not moved from one city to another or that has lasted since its beginnings, but also for the number of titles it has won to date, a total of seventeen. Behind the green franchise are the Los Angeles Lakers, formerly known as the Minneapolis Lakers. Among the most outstanding players, stand out Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, top scorer of the competition, Kobe Bryant, who passed away in January 2020, LeBron James, Pippen or Pau Gasol, who became the first European player to lift the individual Rookie of The Year award, although in 2019/2020 Luka Doncic was the second to do so. In addition and currently, the inclusion of quality and talented European players is increasing, something that has been boosted by the presence of basketball players such as Luka Doncic, Porzingis, Marjanovic, Bogdanovic, Marc Gasol, Ibaka, Vucevic, Valanciunas or Nikola Jokic.

Reigning champion and teams to remember

The reigning champions are the Toronto Raptors, who in the 2018/2019 campaign lifted the NBA championship title for the first time. In addition, the NBA has also had teams with a lot of success and pull among the fans. The Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan, the Lakers of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, the Warriors of Curry, Klay Thompson or Gree (later Kevin Durant arrived), the Spurs of Ginobili, Duncan and Tony Parker, or the Clippers of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan stand out. Likewise, Kobe Bryant's 81-point game will also remain forever in the memory.

Today, teams such as the Bucks of Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the most promising and spectacular players of the moment, or the Clippers of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, also emanate strongly.

How it works today

During the regular season, each franchise plays a total of 82 games, divided equally between home and away. The games and the regular season conclude in April, being this the month in which the most outstanding players are chosen: the best sixth man, best defender, player with the greatest progression, rookie of the year or the MVP of the season. With the regular season over, the play-offs come into play with a total of 16 teams divided between the Eastern and Western Conferences. The winners of each of them face each other in the finals, a round that usually takes place in June. The team that manages to accumulate four wins becomes the NBA champion and the one in charge of winning the coveted ring.

Pau Gasol con su anillo de la NBA | Foto: Getty Images
Pau Gasol with his NBA ring | Photo: Getty Images

It is a competition in which equal opportunities are paramount. However, anything can happen in the NBA, as one of its slogans says: where amazing happens . It can be a heavy competition, as 41 home games are played at home and another 41 away games. However, and taking into account the backing and support that this private institution has, it is a long form in which the interest is maintained from start to finish.

Lockout in 2011

Another of the biggest and most resounding controversies of the NBA came in 2011 on the occasion of a strike that led to the lockout of the league. The owners of the different franchises and the players' union did not reach an agreement to renew their contract and the lockout began on July 1, 2011, concluding on December 8 of the same year. As a result, instead of 82 games being played, only 66 were played, as the start of the competition was delayed by almost four months.

Ibaka posa con la elástica del Real Madrid | Foto: blogdelbasket
Ibaka poses with the Real Madrid jersey | Photo: blogdelbasket

This period of crisis caused NBA stars to join different teams in Europe in order to stay in shape and maintain the winning mentality that characterizes all professional basketball players. The most famous signings were Serge Ibaka and Rudy Fernandez for Real Madrid, Tiago Splitter for Valencia Basket, Beron Williams and Pachulia for Besiktas, Kirilenko for CSKA, Kevin Seraphin and Goran Dragic for Baskonia, Gallinari for Olimpia Milano and Nico Batum for Nancy.

How does the Draft work?

The NBA Draft has become another of the most followed events in recent years. It consists of a procedure that takes place, more or less, at the end of June each year. In it, the different NBA franchises incorporate into their teams players under 23 years of age who come, normally, from American universities or from leagues in other countries.

Porzingis es elegido en 2015 por los NY Knicks | Fuente: USA Today
Porzingis is selected in 2015 by the NY Knicks | Source: USA Today

Among all the names, stand out, for example, Mychal Thompson, the first non-American player to be selected for the first time in the first round of the 1978 Draft. Other standouts include Magic Johnson, Patrick Erwing, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Yao Ming. Looking ahead to the 2020 Draft, the most followed players are, among others, LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton or James Wiseman.

Shadows and lights

Within all the spectacle generated by one of the most followed sports in the United States, there have been numerous cases of players who have not been able to coexist with the pressure, the burden and the demands that elite basketball usually produces. Among them all, the case of Alex Abrines emerges, who a few years after his arrival to the Oklahoma City Thunder had to step aside and rest, as the Spaniard did not find the key to deal with the pressure and constant demands that such a sport generates. Between the fame and the piles of money, there are problems that can be found in the day-to-day life of the North American league. Depression and anxiety are among the scourges that plague the NBA.

Presidents and commissioners

The first president of the NBA was Maurice Podoloff, who also held an important position in the NHL (ice hockey). The Ukrainian leader was in office from 1946 to 1963. He was followed by Walter Kennedy, president from 1963 to 1967 and commissioner from 1967 to 1975. After the Stamford native's term, it was the turn of Larry O'Brien, who remained in office for nine years, from 1975 to 1984.

Podoloff (a la derecha) junto a otro de los dirigentes de la NBA en 1946 | Foto: ESPN
Podoloff (right) with another of the NBA's leaders in 1946 | Photo: ESPN

After the end of the O'Brien Era, David Stern became commissioner from 1984 to 2014, being one of the myths of the best basketball league in the world and one of those in charge of orchestrating one of the longest tenures in the NBA.

Unusual situation in March 2020

The NBA suffered an unprecedented situation in the sports world that brought America's top basketball to a screeching halt due to a globalized pandemic caused by the coronavirus. The first players to test positive for COVID-19 were Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Smart and Wood. In addition, there were many cases of institutions linked to the NBA that suffered from it, such as, for example, the mother of Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the stars of the Wolves.

With the stoppage caused by the coronavirus, the regular season is expected to be extended until May. However, the private American league has not commented on the matter and it is a decision in which the public health of all citizens, including the players, must take precedence.