A brief history of the NBA

Kareem Abdul Jabbar figured heavily in the history of the NBA

Being one of North America’s greatest gifts to international sport, the game of basketball has attained international popularity in little more than a century since its creation. Conceived by Canadian physical education professor James Naismith in 1892 from little more than a soccer ball and two mounted peach baskets, it has gone on to worldwide acclaim to due its simplicity and ease of access for anyone from any socioeconomic group.

The professional league that has become the aspiration of any avid b-baller is none other than the National Basketball Association. It has seen many exciting games over the years, but for those willing to dig deeper than what one can find on ESPN Classic, a proper back history of the major events that this association has celebrated and endured is warranted.

The following is a timeline of the history of the NBA, and all the great moments that have occurred in the decades since…

Another connection to Canada: NBA is born in arenas originally meant for ice hockey

As if the fact that the game of basketball was invented by a Canadian wasn’t enough for our American friends, the genesis of the NBA owes itself to owners of arenas that were used primarily by teams in the National Hockey League. That’s right: if it weren’t for hockey, the NBA would not have been launched!

1947: the year basketball’s color barrier was broken

As hard as it is to believe now, the National Basketball League (then the Basketball Association of America [BAA]) originally only featured white players. In 1947, shortly after it founding, the color barrier was broken … by an athlete that was Japanese. An African American wouldn’t suit up in the NBA until 1950, when Harold Hunter did so for the Washington Capitols.

Better together: the BAA and the NBL merge to form the National Basketball Association

Early on in its existence, the then BAA faced direct competition from the likes of NBL, the National Basketball League. However, it soon became clear that one could make better money joining the BAA, leading the NBL into a merger arrangement, adding six teams to its stable and becoming the National Basketball Association.

Boston Strong: Celtics become the NBA’s first dynasty

With a more stable landscape for the pro game in the late 50’s, a team began to emerge as a dominant force in the league for the first time, as the Boston Celtics rode the power of Bill Russell and Bob Cousey to 11 titles in 13 years dating from 1957.

The 60’s and 70’s: an era of expansion

With the Celtics and stars on other teams like Wilt Chamberlain captivating the minds of sport fans everywhere in the 60’s and 70’s, an era of expansion set in as the popularity of the sport began to go viral. Between 1966 and 1968, the league’s roster expanded from 9 to 14 teams, and by 1974, 18 teams were in the fold of the NBA. A short lived rivalry with a rival league (ABA – American Basketball Association) ended in the second merger in the league’s history, bringing the team count to 22 at the conclusion of the 1976 season.

The addition of the 3 point line revives interest in the 80’s

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, basketball’s popularity began to wane, as advances in strategy had led to the slowing down of the game, reducing offence and with it, viewer interest. The NBA took a page out of their old rival’s (ABA) playbook in 1981, adding the three point line. With no way to combat players that were adept at sinking baskets from downtown, scoring exploded once more, paving the way for legends like Larry Bird to shoot up to superstardom.

A legend rises

The greatest legend in NBA history was yet to come though, as the Chicago Bulls debuted their latest draft pick from the University of North Carolina at the start of the 1984 season, an upstart college player by the name of Michael Jordan. Having took the college scene by storm, he proceeded to the same at the professional level, setting 13 league records that still stand to this day.

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