National Basketball Association

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NBA logo, depicting former star Jerry West

The National Basketball Association, more popularly known as the NBA, is the world's premier men's professional basketball league and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America.

The NBA was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association in the fall of 1949 after merging with the rival National Basketball League. The league's several international and individual team offices are directed out its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Regular season

Following the summer breaks, teams hold training camps in October. Training camps allow teams to evaluate players, especially rookies, to scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, to prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and to determine the 12-man active roster and, if needed, a 3-man injured list with which they will begin the regular season. Teams have the ability to assign players with less than two years of experience to the NBA development league. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. In the first week of November, the NBA regular season begins.

In the regular season, each team plays 82 games, which are divided evenly between home and away games. Schedules are not identical for all teams. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year, teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times, and teams in the other conference twice apiece. A team can therefore have a relatively easy or difficult schedule, depending on the division and conference it is located in. Following the recent changes to the National Hockey League's scheduling format, the NBA is now the only major league in which all the teams play each other during the regular season, and where a season ticket holder can see every team in the league come to town in any one season.

In February, the NBA regular season is interrupted to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans are balloted throughout the United States, Canada and through the Internet, and the top vote-getters at each position in each conference are given a starting spot on their conference's All-Star team. Coaches vote to choose the remaining 14 All-Stars. Then, East faces West in the All-Star game. The player with the best performance during the game is rewarded with a Game MVP award, which is usually given to a player on the winning team. Other attractions of the All-Star break include the got milk? Rookie Challenge game, which pits the best rookies and the best second-year players against each other; the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, a competition between players to see who is the best 3-point shooter; and the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk contest, to see which player dunks the ball in the most entertaining way.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the league's trade deadline. After this date, teams are not allowed to exchange players with each other for the remainder of the season, although they may still sign and release players. Often, major trades are completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

In April, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards, as well as the selection of the honorary league-wide postseason teams. The NBA Sixth Man Award is awarded to the best contributor off the bench. The NBA Rookie of the Year Award is awarded to the best rookie player. The NBA Most Improved Player Award is awarded to the most improved player. The NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award is awarded to the league's best defender. The NBA Coach of the Year Award is awarded to either the best coach in the league or the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The NBA Most Valuable Player Award is given to player deemed most valuable for that season. Additionally, The Sporting News awards an unofficial (but widely recognized) NBA Executive of the Year Award to the general manager who is adjudged to have done the best job for his franchise.

The postseason teams are the All-NBA Teams, the All-Defensive Teams, and the All-Rookie Teams. There are three All-NBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There are also two All-Rookie teams, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.

Playoffs

Main article: NBA Playoffs

In late April, the NBA Playoffs begin. Eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The seed of each team is determined by several factors. The top three seeds for each conference are determined by taking the winners of the three divisions of the conference and ranking them by regular season record. The remaining five seeds are determined by taking the five teams with the next-best records from among the non-division winning teams in the conference. However, the seeding system has one feature that is unusual in North American sports. Division champions do not necessarily have home-court advantage in the playoffs. Although the playoff brackets are not reseeded, home-court advantage is based strictly on regular-season record, without regard to whether a team won its division.

Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed plays the eighth seed, the second seed plays the seventh seed, the third seed plays the sixth seed, and the fourth seed plays the fifth seed in the playoffs, having a higher seed generally means you will be facing a weaker team. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage, including the First Round. This means that, for example, if the team who receives the 6 (six) seed has a better record than the team with the 3 (three) seed (seeded thus by virtue of a divisional championship), the 6 seed would have home court advantage, even though the other team has a higher seed than them. Therefore, the team with the best regular season record in the league is guaranteed home court advantage in every series it plays.

The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays a rival in a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games advancing into the second round, while the other team is eliminated from the playoffs. In the next round, the successful team plays against another advancing team of the same conference. Thus, all but one team in each conference are eliminated from the playoffs. Since the NBA does not re-seed teams, the playoff bracket in each conference uses a traditional design, with the winner of the series matching the 1st and 8th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 4th and 5th seeded teams, and the winner of the series matching the 2nd and 7th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 3rd and 6th seeded teams. In every round except the NBA Finals, the best of seven series follows a 2-2-1-1-1 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 6. For the final round (NBA Finals), the series follows a 2-3-2 pattern.

The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals, held annually in June. The victor in the NBA Finals wins the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Each player and major contributor, including coaches and the general manager, on the winning team receive a championship ring. In addition, the league awards an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, which, while not by rule, nearly always goes to a member of the winning team. There has been only one exception to date: Jerry West won the award in 1969 (the award's first season) even though his Los Angeles Lakers did not win the championship.

History

The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by the owners of major sports arenas in the Northeast and Midwest, notably including Madison Square Garden in New York City. Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the National Basketball League, the BAA was the first league to attempt to play primarily in large arenas in major cities. During its early years, though, the quality of play in the BAA was not obviously better than those other league or among independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance 1947 ABL champion Baltimore Bullets moved to the BAA and won its 1948 title, followed by 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis which won the 1949 BAA title.

Following the 1949 season, the BAA agreed to merge with the NBL, expanding the rechristened National Basketball Association to seventeen franchises that were a mix of large and small cities, as well as large arenas and smaller gymnasiums and armories. In 1950, the NBA consolidated to eleven franchises, a process that continued until 1954, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises, all of which are still in the league (The Knicks, Lakers, Celtics, Hawks, Kings, Warriors, 76ers, and Pistons).

While contracting, the league also saw in its smaller city franchises shift to larger cities. The Hawks shifted from "Tri-Cities" to Milwaukee and then to St. Louis; the Royals from Rochester to Cincinnati, the Pistons from Fort Wayne to Detroit.

1950 also saw the NBA integrate, with the addition of African American players by several teams including Chuck Cooper by the Boston Celtics, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton by the New York Knicks, and Earl Lloyd by Washington.

During this period, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by center George Mikan, won five NBA Finals and established themselves as its first dynasty.

To liven up play, the league introduced the 24 second shot clock in 1954.

In 1956, rookie center Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already featured guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, and led the club to eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons. Russell's rivaly with center Wilt Chamberlain became one of the great individual rivalries in the history of team sports.

Through this period, the NBA continued to strengthen with the shift of the Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises.

In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association. The leagues engaged in a bidding war for talent. The NBA landed the most important college star of the era, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who in his second season, together with Oscar Robertson, led the Milwaukee Bucks to a title, and who later played on five Laker championship teams. However, the ABA, succeeded in signing a number of major stars, including Julius Erving. The NBA expanded rapidly during this period, one result of which was to tie up most promising markets. Following the 1976 season, the leagues reached a settlement that provided for the addition of four ABA franchises to the NBA, raising the number of franchises in the league at that time to 22.

The league added the ABA's innovative Three-point field goal beginning in 1979 to open up the game. Also in 1979, rookies Larry Bird and Magic Johnson joined the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively, initiating a period of significant growth in fan interest in the NBA throughout the country and throughout the world. Bird went on to lead the Celtics to three titles and Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to five.

Michael Jordan entered the league five years later with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. By 1989, further expansion had raised the number of teams in the league to 27. During the 1990's, Jordan went on to lead the Bulls to six titles.

The 1990's also saw greater globalization. The 1992 Olympic basketball team, the first to allow current NBA stars, featured Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. A growing number of NBA star players also began coming from other countries. Initially, many of these players, such as 1994 NBA MVP Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria, first played NCAA basketball to enhance their skills. An increasing number, though, such as 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year Pau Gasol of Spain, 2002 first pick in the NBA Draft Yao Ming of China, and 2004 Olympic Tournament MVP Emanuel Ginobili of Argentina, have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA.

Today, the NBA has reached 30 franchises and continues to evolve as one of the premiere sports leagues in the world.

Lockout

The Collective Bargining Agreement between the two agencies expired on June 30, 2005. On June 22, 2005, a bargaining agreement was reached, preventing a lockout. The last time the NBA went though a lockout, a large portion of the 1998-99 season was cancelled, resulting in a shortened 50-game regular season schedule. The All-Star game was not played that year, but the playoffs were not affected. Fortunately for fans an agreement was reached, with the most significant change being an assignment system within the NBDL, as well as a one time salary cap amnesty clause.

Teams

Current Teams

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Defunct teams

Important people

Presidents and commissioners

Players

See also

External links

Official Sites

Statistics

News/Rumors

Discussion

Draft information

Miscellaneous

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