The history of the National Basketball Association, NBA, dates back to the mid-90s. In 1946, the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League were merged into NBA. There were 16 teams emerging from small towns and large cities. In the initial six years, it lost eight teams with only eight left to play and a severe financial crunch. Until 1955, it played with those eight teams. However, in 1961, there was the addition of the Chicago Packers, known as the Washington Wizards today.
However, history shows that this expansion and successful turn weren’t because of the Chicago Packers, In fact, much of the credit goes to Chicago Bulls that joined the NBA in 1966. From 1966 till 2004, the NBA witnessed a drastic expansion with 21 teams under its league.
Teams Through the Decades
Every organization and league has its own trends, and the NBA is no different. Those who are fans of the NBA are familiar with the way that ‘teams of the era’ seems to dominate the league from one period to the next. It is these teams that get the majority of the fame and achievements within the NBA. This trend might have passed on from one team to the next as the decades wore on, but the overall situation remains the same.
The Minneapolis Lakers and star George Mikan have ruled the early decades of NBA, winning 5 championships from 1948 to 1956. The Boston Celtics conquered from 1957 till 1969 and led no less than 11 championships. In the 1980s, the Lakers and Celtics together gave a new successful zone to NBA after winning 8 title championships. In the 1990s, the world witnessed Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan taking 6 titles and in 2000, the Lakers came back with a bang, taking 5 more titles under their name.
In the 1960s, when the NBA was going through growth, expansion, and success, a rival league was formed by the name of ABA. In 1976, the ABA and NBA merged and became one.
In the 1980s, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird brought a tremendous growth to the league and ruled for a decade. This success and growth gave a new dimension to the NBA, opening new doors of media and television for them. This was the time when the NBA signed TV shows and programs, officially appearing on screens other than sports channels. With Jordan shining in the stadium and on television screens as well as the cinema, more cities wished to be part of the NBA. During 98-99, four teams, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Hornets joined the league, making the total of 27.
In 1995, the NBA welcomed some Canadian entries with Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. Soon after, in 2001, the Grizzlies went back and only the Raptors were left standing to represent Canada in the NBA.
NBA also formed its women league in 1996, as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)
The NBA faced severe setback after a 191 days lockout by its owners in the year 1998, resulting in 61% reduced games and cancellation of the All-Star Game.
The Western Conference dominated in 1998 with San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers together won 9 titles in fourteen seasons. The Lakers and Spurs continued this phase until 2007.
From 2007 onwards, the NBA gave its fans some great games and nail-biting moments. The 2010 NBA All-Star Game took place with the largest crowd in its history. This time, the title was enjoyed by The Mavericks, with Shawn Marion, PejaStojakovic, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry.
July 2011 gave the NBA another lockout, resulting in the cancellation of seasons. The owners agreed on a settlement with a shortened 66-game season and a much-awaited comeback by the Miami Heat. The Heat defeated Thunder and took their second NBA title in 6 years
In the NBA 2013 finals, Spurs and Heat played against each other defeating Spurs this time. During the rematch, when Spurs defeated Heat, David Stern retired from his position as the commissioner, after 30 years of service, giving the succession to Adam Silver.
In 2014, James returned to Cavaliers and managed to reach the second finals, but the Golden State Warriors defeated them. In 2016 NBA finals, the Cavaliers and Warriors faced each other, and this time Cavaliers defeated Warriors in seven games, entitling for the first NBA championship. Until now, both Warriors and Cavaliers dominate the league and finals have been a matchup between the two.
Early Financial Issues
While the NBA is a giant organization now, it has been plagued with financial troubles from the very beginning. This is especially true with regards to the teams that joined the NBA when the merger occurred. This was because the teams were located within smaller markets back then. It was one Frank Zollner who was a key player in financially supporting the NBA during that difficult time. Zollner was also the person who owned the Fort Wayne Pistons back then.
During the era between 1954 to 1966, the NBA saw a large expansion , with about 21 teams also taking part in the league. With sponsorships and the success of their television ventures, the financial struggles of the NBA are well behind them.
The NBA Draft and Its Strange History
In June, NBA fans are all eager to see who will be selected in the draft for their favorite team. Today, the NBA drafting process is more or less straightforward. Every team gets a pick in the first round, while the second round is based on their previous records as well as their luck in playing the draft lottery.
However, the history of the NBA league tells us that things weren’t quite so simple in the beginning. The league curtails the draft now, but before 1988, the rounds were limitless. They could even go on indefinitely if the teams so wished. In 1960, the draft lasted a full 21 rounds. In 1984, there were around 228 players drafted into the league.
Needless to say, this means that the draft process became quite overwhelming and difficult to handle. After the third round selections, most of the players drafted never even got to play in the NBA. The early draft records were also quite inaccurate for the most part. The listing of players was in simple alphabetical order, which didn’t tell anyone where the players stood. In fact, some experts say that many such players didn’t even know where their draft was, and perhaps didn’t even care.
While the NBA league has had its ups and downs, there’s no doubt that it’s now a firmly established part of American culture. Millions of people tune in to watch the games every season, while many enjoy NBA themes on their screen as well. Without the NBA, basketball might not have gotten the attention it deserves in this country. There might be a few wrinkles left here and there, but these will hopefully straighten out in time as well.
If you’re interested in the game of basketball, the NBA, or sports in general, it might be fun for you to look up further historical aspects. For instance, you can read up on the most colorful and unusual uniforms in history.