An Informational Guide About the NBA

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The NBA was founded in 1946, and over the course of 65+ seasons they've grown to become the premier global organization for professional basketball. The league is considered one of the "Big Four" in North America and enjoyed by casual and die-hard fans alike, although a 2014 Harris Poll shows that it lags behind the NFL, MLB, college football, and auto racing in overall popularity.

While the NBA doesn't lead the pack in total viewers, they remain a cultural powerhouse that influences fashion and music and generates massive amounts of money. In 2015, the average NBA team was worth $1.1 billion, up 74% from the previous year. The most valuable franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers ($2.6 billion), followed by the New York Knicks ($2.5BN), Chicago Bulls ($2BN), and Boston Celtics ($1.7BN).

During the course of this article, our objective is to offer a wide variety of information about the National Basketball Association. From an overall history of the league to some of the best games ever played, our intention is to turn even the most raw basketball fan into someone capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation about the sport.

NBA History

While the game of basketball was created in 1891 and spread to college campuses a few years later, the professional league later known as the National Basketball Association wouldn't appear until 1946. That's when the Basketball Association of America was founded by owners of major hockey arenas throughout Canada, the Northeast, and the Midwest. Other organizations such as the National Basketball League and the American Basketball League had already tried their luck at professional basketball, but the BAA was the first to concentrate on larger arenas in major metropolitan areas.

Inagural NBA Game

The inaugural game in league history took place on November 1st, 1946, between the New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies, with shooting guard/small forward Ossie Schectman credited as the first player to score a goal. The Knicks would win the game 68-66.

Creation of NBA and Consolidation

While the ABL had already ceased operations, the existence of both the BAA and NBL resulted in a fierce battle for dominance. Teams jumped from league to league, but the BAA had established a clear advantage by the 1948-1949 season. The two leagues merged that same season, with the remaining NBL teams becoming part of the BAA. While the executives of the BAA were intact, they decided to rebrand their new league as the National Basketball Association.

Once their rival league had been dealt with, the NBA was left with a mix of teams playing in larger arenas and small venues such as local gymnasiums. The latter were considered undesirable for long-term success, so they were slowly phased out or moved to bigger cities with greater revenue potential. By the 1953-1954, the league had reduced itself to eight teams, including the Knicks, Warriors, Celtics, Kings, Pistons, Lakers, 76ers, and Hawks.

A major innovation occurred in 1954 with the introduction of the 24-second shot clock.

Until the shot clock was introduced, games were low-scoring and failed to generate the desired level of excitement among ticketholders. This rule had an immediate impact on the product, resulting in greater ticket sales and a more fan-friendly product.

Celtic Dominance and the ABA

From 1959 to 1969, the league was dominated by the Boston Celtics. Coached by Red Auerbach and starring future Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, the Celtics put together a record eight consecutive championships and won 10 titles in 11 seasons. Thanks to playoff success in later decades, they remain the winningest franchise in NBA Finals history.

As the Celtic era was drawing to a close, the NBA faced a new challenge with the appearance of the American Basketball Association. The ABA had the money to lure away top NBA stars, and they also managed to sign a number of college players who were just turning pro. Combined with an emphasis on fan-pleasing moves such as the slam dunk and three-point shot, they posed a serious threat.

The NBA countered by entering an expansion mode.

Moves were made to put teams in major markets before the competition could do so. By 1974, the league had added the Trail Blazers, Braves, Cavaliers, and Jazz for a total of 18 teams.The hard work and dedication of NBA executives finally paid off, and they were once again the only major professional basketball league following the 1976 season. A settlement with the American Basketball Association increased the number of teams to 22, as former ABA franchises such as the Spurs, Pacers, Nuggets, and Nets entered the league.

Mainstream Success

By the end of the 1970s, the league's popularity was flagging. That changed in 1979, however, as the NBA adopted the three-point shot from the former ABA. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird also came aboard as rookies, and they quickly continued their college rivalry as members of the Celtics and Lakers.

Boston (three wins) and Los Angeles (five wins) would take turns winning NBA Finals throughout the 1980s. A number of other stars began to emerge during this period, including Isiah Thomas, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Charles Barkley. No athlete, however, was a bigger boon for the league than Bulls star Michael Jordan. Despite his franchise struggling for several years, Jordan and the Bulls became a dominant force throughout the 1990s, winning six NBA Finals in the process.

By the end of the decade, the all-female WNBA had been created, ratings were up,
and the league had even expanded into Canada.

One of the highlights during this time was the 1992 "Dream Team," a squad of mostly professional athletes who dominated the 1992 Olympic basketball competition and brought home a gold medal with a great deal of fanfare.

Downturn and Reemergence

Despite all the positives, the NBA went into a slump with the onset of the new millennium. Michael Jordan had entered his second retirement, and a nasty 191-day lockout reduced the 1998-1999 season by 39%. These two events sapped fan interest, as did the emergence of the San Antonio Spurs and their perceived combination of methodical play and boring players.

The play of Kobe Brant and Shaquille, as well as a renewal of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry once again grabbed fan interest in the latter half of the 2000s, but then another lockout in 2011 brought the league's momentum to a crashing halt.

As of right now, the future of the NBA seems to be looking up.

Teams normally not associated with the playoffs are beginning to enjoy consistent success, and a new generation of NBA players are coming into their own. While names like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Paul George can't rival those of Bird and Johnson, they each have years to create their own legacies.

Television Ratings

Television rating for the NBA have waxed and waned over the decades. NBA Finals ratings reached a record high during the 1997-1998 season, but a league lockout, increased competition from prime time television programs, and the absence of star players like Michael Jordan resulted in record low ratings for the 2002-2003 championship series. Ratings eventually began to climb again beginning in 2007, but 2012 marked another drop in numbers.

On a positive note, the 2015 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers resulted in an average viewership of 19.94 million, which is the largest North American audience since Michael Jordan played his last game with the Bulls in 1998.

NBA Commisioners

the case of professional basketball in America, this individual is known as the Commissioner of the NBA. Elected by the 30 franchise owners, this executive levies fines and suspensions, looks for new ways to develop the brand across the globe, and generally steers the ship through good times and bad.

Going all the way back to the days of the BAA, only five individuals have served as commissioner. This section lists these men and provides a brief summary of their tenure.

Maurice Podoloff (1946-1963)

A lawyer by trade, Maurice Podoloff started with the organization when it was the Basketball Association of America. He eventually negotiated a merger with the National Basketball League to form the NBA. He introduced the drafting of college players, as well as creating the 24-second shot clock to speed up the tempo of games.

J. Walter Kennedy (1963-1975)

Kennedy took over during a turbulent time in the league, as attendance was faltering, there were no television contracts, and the quality of teams was uneven. Through force of will and a no-nonsense approach, he managed to increase both attendance and revenue by 200% during his 12 years as commissioner.

Larry O'Brien (1975-1984)

While some credit his staff with pushing him into various decisions, the achievements of O'Brien cannot be ignored. He increased the number of teams from 18 to 23, negotiated a rich contract with CBS, presided over the NBA/ABA merger, and brought annual attendance to the 10 million mark. In recognition of his service, the league championship was renamed the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy in his honor.

David Stern (1984-2014)

The longest-reigning NBA commissioner, Stern served with the NBA as a lawyer and then Executive Vice President before being elected to the league's highest office. Stern presided over the era of numerous marquee stars, including Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neil and Michael Jordan. He introduced the draft lottery, added seven new teams, created the WNBA, and worked to expand the league into as many global markets as possible.

Adam Silver (2014-present)

The protégé of David Stern, Silver served as the Deputy Commissioner from 2005 to 2014, as well as prior jobs ranging from NBA Chief of Staff to President of NBA Entertainment. Only three months into his reign, Silver was forced to deal with the controversy surrounding comments made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Silver acted emphatically, banning the owner for life and fining him the maximum allowable amount of $2.5 million.

NBA Player Positions

If you're new to the game of basketball, you may not be familiar with the various positions on the court. In this section, we'll explain each of these and list Notable players who have filled those roles.

Point Guard

This position is responsible for directing the offense and calling the plays. Point guards tend to be agile and fast, as they must be able to work the ball around the court to find teammates in the best position to score.

Notable NBA point guards include: Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry

Shooting Guard

As their name would indicate, these players are relied upon to score points. This is especially true when it comes to shooting from the outside, and these players often excel at the three-point shot.

Notable NBA shooting guards include: Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Earl Monroe, Reggie Miller, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant

Small Forward

A quality player at this position needs to be able to defend and score. They may be asked to shoot from the outside, but they also need to be durable enough to get in close to the basket.

Notable NBA small forwards include: John Havlicek, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Larry Bird, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Durant and LeBron James

Power Forward

This player spends much of his time close to the basket (low post), as he's responsible for grabbing rebounds and defending the opposition. These individuals tend to be among the strongest players on their team

Notable NBA power forwards include: Bob Pettit, Elvin Hayes, Kevin McHale, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett, Dennis Rodman, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan


Usually the tallest player on a team, the center is responsible for scoring close to the basket, blocking shots, and grabbing rebounds.

Notable NBA centers include: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O'Neal

Modern NBA Game Rules

Over the years, the game of professional basketball has changed to meet the demands of the audience. This section provides an overview of some modern-day NBA rules, as well as documenting the changes they've underwent over the years. It's hard to believe that the original game only had 13 rules.

Three-point Shot

In the early days of the NBA, players didn't have the option of draining a three-pointer. That changed in the 1960s, however, as the ABA drew positive response when they introduced an additional way to score. After the two leagues merged, the NBA adopted the idea in 1979.

Size of the Teams

The number of players on the court has been fixed at five per team since the beginning of the 20th century, but it's interesting to note that the early days of the game used anywhere from nine to 50 players per team.

Lane Width

The NBA lane was originally only six feet wide, but this was changed to 12 feet for the 1951-1952 season. According to the official NBA site, this change was due to the dominance of Lakers center George Mikan. Starting with the 1964-1965 season, it was enlarged to its current size of 16 feet due to the dominance of Wilt Chamberlain.

Shot Clock

Prior to the 1954-1955 season, the NBA did not use a shot clock. This became increasingly unpopular with fans, as a team in the lead would often pass endlessly around the court in order to keep the opposition from receiving the ball. The inclusion of this rule revolutionized the game and resulted in a 40% increase in attendance. In the last year before the shot clock, teams averaged 79 points per game. Four years later, the average had increased to 107.

NBA Dress Code

While this rule doesn't impact a player's performance on the court, it does remain one of the more interesting rule additions in the last few decades. Following the notorious Pacers-Piston brawl during the 2004 season, Commissioner David Stern issued a new dress code that went into effect during the 2005-2006 season. Players were now required to wear conservative attire while conducting league business or even entering an arena, and items traditionally associated with hip-hop culture were forbidden. Players from Allen Iverson to Paul Pierce opposed the idea, but it remains in place as of this writing.

NBA Team Guide

In August of 1949, a pair of basketball leagues merged to create what would later become the modern-day NBA. The fledgling league was initially comprised of 17 teams, but its continued popularity over the years has allowed it to add a number of expansion franchises. The NBA is currently comprised of 29 teams in the United States and one in Canada; this section details each of them.

Eastern Conference

Comprised mainly of teams from the Midwest and East Coast, the Eastern Conference boasts some of the winningest NBA franchises in the history of the sport. A total of 37 league champions have come from the conference, and the presence of teams like the Cavaliers should gain the East at least a few more titles over the next decade.

If you're not an NBA fanatic who already knows everything about the sport, here's a helpful list of the 15 teams that currently make up the Eastern Conference. Please note that cumulative team records were accurate as of the end of the 2014-2015 season.

Atlantic Division

Besides the Raptors, all teams in this division can be found on the East Coast. The Atlantic has been around since the 1970-1971 season, when the league expanded to 17 franchises and added the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves. Former franchises have included the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Buffalo Braves, and Washington Wizards/Bullets. Notable rivalries include the following: Knicks vs 76ers, Knicks vs Nets, Celtics vs 76ers, and Celtics vs Knicks.

Boston Celtics

One of only eight NBA franchises (out of 23) to survive the league's first decade, the Celtics have compiled the third-best overall record at 3,173-2,223 (.588). They've also captured 17 NBA Finals, which gives them the most title wins in league history. The rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics is the most well-known feud in professional basketball. Notable players have included Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell.

Brooklyn Nets

Established as part of the ABA in 1967, the team joined the NBA in 1976. Also known as the New Jersey Americans, New York Nets, and New Jersey Nets, they've compiled a franchise record of 1,339-1,811 (.425). While they won two ABA titles in the 1970s, they've failed to win the NBA Finals. Notable players include Jason Kidd, John Williamson, and Buck Williams.

New York Knicks

The New York Knickerbockers have existed since the beginning of the NBA, and they were also founding members of the BAA. Their overall record is 2,669-2,724 (.495), and they've won two NBA Finals while losing six. In 2012-2013, the team managed to win their first division title since 1994. Notable Knicks stars have included Earl Monroe, Patrick Ewing, and Carmelo Anthony.

Philadelphia 76ers

The New York Knickerbockers have existed since the beginning of the NBA, and they were also founding members of the BAA. Their overall record is 2,669-2,724 (.495), and they've won two NBA Finals while losing six. In 2012-2013, the team managed to win their first division title since 1994. Notable Knicks stars have included Earl Monroe, Patrick Ewing, and Carmelo Anthony.

Toronto Raptors

Founded as an expansion team during the 1995-1996 season, the Raptors have won zero NBA titles and have an overall record of 678-914 (.426). Despite early struggles, the team posted their most regular-season wins (49) in 2014-2015. Notable Raptors players have included Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, and DeMar DeRozan.

Central Division

This division first appeared during the 1970-1971 season following league expansion and realignment. Most of the teams come from the former Midwest Division, with the exception of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons have the most title wins of the division, while the Cavs are the most recent champions. Notable division rivalries include the Bulls vs Pacers and Bulls vs Pistons, both of which reached their peak during the career of Michael Jordan.

Chicago Bulls

One of only eight NBA franchises (out of 23) to survive the league's first decade, the Celtics have compiled the third-best overall record at 3,173-2,223 (.588). They've also captured 17 NBA Finals, which gives them the most title wins in league history. The rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics is the most well-known feud in professional basketball. Notable players have included Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs first appeared as an expansion team in 1970, and they've since compiled a record of 1,671-1,971 (.459). While they've yet to win the NBA championship, they did advance to the finals in 2007 and 2015. Notable players include LeBron James, Austin Carr, and Brad Daugherty.

Detroit Pistons

Founded in 1941 as the Fort Wayne (Zollner) Pistons of the NBL, the team joined the BAA in 1948. In 1949, they became part of the NBA following the merger of the BAA and NBL, and they changed their name to the Detroit Pistons in 1957. Their cumulative record is 2,572-2,714 (.487), and they've compiled a 3-4 mark in the NBA Finals. Arguably their greatest success came during the 88-89 and 89-90 seasons, when Chuck Daly coached the "Bad Boys" to back-to-back championships. Notable players include Isiah Thomas, Andre Drummond, and Joe Dumars.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers debuted in the ABA in 1967, and the 1976 merger between the two leagues brought them into the NBA. Their overall record is 1,561-1,588 (.496). Despite winning a trio of ABA championships, their only appearance in the NBA Finals ended in defeat. While their greatest success came in the 1990s, recent years have seen the Pacers re-emerge as post-season contenders. Notable players include Reggie Miller, Chris Mullen, and Paul George.

Milwaukee Bucks

Brought into the league as an expansion team in 1968, the Bucks have put together a record of 1,950-1,856 (.512). During that time, they've won one league title, two conference titles, and 13 division titles. Despite success in the 1970s, the franchise is currently estimated to be the least valuable in the league. Notable players include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sidney Moncrief, and Michael Redd.

Southeast Division

This division was created for the 2004-2005, as the league added the Charlotte Bobcats and expanded from 29 to 30 teams. During this time, the Miami Heat have been the most successful franchise, winning seven division championships. Since 2004, teams in the Southeast have also advanced to the NBA Finals six times and won three league championships. Notable rivalries include the Heat vs Magic and Hawks vs Magic.

Atlanta Hawks

A member of the NBA since 1949, the team has also been known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Milwaukee Hawks, and St. Louis Hawks. Their overall record is 2,602-2,622 (.498), and they've won one NBA championship, four conference titles, and five division titles. Despite these accolades, the Hawks have also went 57 seasons without winning a league title. Notable players include Doc Rivers, Dominique Wilkins, and Paul Millsap.

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets first appeared in 1988 as an expansion team, but they moved to New Orleans in 2002. The Charlotte Bobcats then appeared in 2004, but they became the Hornets when the New Orleans team rebranded themselves as the Pelicans. Their overall record is 868-1,134 (.434), and they've accumulated no championships, conference titles, or division titles. Notable players include Dell Curry, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues.

Miami Heat

First appearing in 1988 as an expansion franchise, the Heat have compiled a record of 1,122-1,044 (.518). They've won 11 division titles, five conference titles, and NBA championships in 2006, 2012, and 2013. During their time in the league, they've engaged in a number of rivalries against teams such as the Knicks, Bulls, Magic, and Celtics. Notable players for the Heat franchise include Alonzo Mourning, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.

Orlando Magic

Brought into the league as an expansion franchise in 1989, the Magic have performed well enough to make the playoffs in 14 of their 27 seasons. They also have a record of 1,027-1,057 (.493), as well as two conference titles and five division titles. Following the 2012 trade of Dwight Howard, the team has entered a rebuilding phase. Notable players for the Magic include Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tracy McGrady.

Washington Wizards

Introduced into the NBA in 1961 as the first expansion team, the franchise known as the Wizards has also been called the Chicago Packers, Chicago Zephyrs, Baltimore Bullets, Capital Bullets, and Washington Bullets. Their overall record is 1,963-2,406 (.449), and they managed to make it to four NBA Finals during the 1970s (winning once). Despite a long stretch of poor performance, the Wiz have turned things around since 2012 and become a perennial playoff contender. Notable players include Wes Unseld, John Wall, and Elvin Hayes.

Western Conference

Mainly comprised of teams from the South and the West Coast, the Western Conference has produced 31 NBA champions since the 1946-1947 season. In regard to title wins, their two most successful franchises have been the Lakers (16) and Spurs (5).

If you're a newcomer to the NBA or an East Coast dweller, here's a complete list of current Western Conference teams broken up into three divisions.

Northwest Division

Created for the 2004-2005 season, this division contains teams from such diverse locales as Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City. The Thunder have been the dominant franchise since 2010, winning the division title four out of five times. Since the division was formed, the Thunder is also the only team to have made it to the NBA Finals (where they lost to the Miami Heat).

Denver Nuggets

An original member of the ABA, the team changed their name from the Denver Larks to the Denver Rockets prior to the start of the season. They would become the Nuggets in 1974 and join the NBA in 1976 as part of the NBA/ABA merger. Their record stands at 1,530-1,620 (.486), and they've enjoyed significant success in the 1980s and in recent years. Despite their regular-season wins and playoff appearances, they haven't made it to the championship round since the days of the ABA. Notable players include Alex English, David Thompson, and Dan Issel.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The T-Wolves appeared as an expansion team in 1989 and have put together a record of 818-1,266 (.393, which is the second-worst NBA win percentage). The team struggled until the late 1990s, when the addition of Kevin Garnett allowed them to make the playoffs eight straight seasons. After the departure of Garnett, they've entered a rebuilding phase. Notable players include Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Sam Mitchell.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Originally known as the Seattle SuperSonics, the team moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder. The franchise has compiled an overall record of 2,084-1,804 (.536), which is the fifth best in the NBA. In the NBA Finals, they're 1-2 as the SuperSonics and 0-1 as the Thunder. Notable players include Kevin Durant, Nate McMillan, and Fred Brown.

Portland Trail Blazers

Founded in 1970, the Trail Blazers have a record of 1,947-1,695 (.535). They've advanced to the NBA Finals on three occasions, winning the league championship in 1977. The team made 21 consecutive playoff appearances from 1983 to 2003, and they also sold out 814 straight home games from 1977 to 1995. Notable players include Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, and Terry Porter.

Utah Jazz

The team debuted as the New Orleans Jazz in 1974, but they would move to Salt Lake City and become the Utah Jazz in 1979. They've compiled a record of 1,775-1,539 (.536), which is tied for the league's fifth-best winning percentage. The team was dominant in the 1990s, but they failed to win any league titles thanks to the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Notable players include Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Darrell Griffith.

Pacific Division

Created at the beginning of the 1970-1971 season, the Pacific Division has produced 14 NBA champions, with the Lakers being one of the two most successful franchises in league history. The most notable rivalry is between the Lakers and the Clippers, and the two even play games in the same area. To date, the Lakers hold a commanding lead in this rivalry (98-40), although the Clippers have closed the gap in recent years.

Golden State Warriors

A founding member of the BAA, the franchise started out as the Philadelphia Warriors. They relocated in 1962 and became the San Francisco Warriors, although this was later changed to the current name in 1971. Their cumulative record is 2,517-2,875 (.467), and they've won a total of four NBA championships (1947, 1956, 1975, and 2015). From 1994 to 2012, the team only made the playoffs once, but their fortunes have changed in recent years. Notable players include Stephen Curry, Chris Mullin, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Los Angeles Clippers

The team began as the Buffalo Braves in 1970, but they relocated and became the San Diego Clippers in 1978. In 1984, they moved again and ended up in L.A. Their overall record of 1,416-2,226 (.389) gives them the worst winning percentage in NBA history, although recent years have seen the franchise flourish behind players Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Other notable players include DeAndre Jordan, Bob McAdoo, and Randy Smith.

Los Angeles Lakers

Starting as the Minneapolis Lakers in 1947, the franchise won championships in both the NBL and BAA before moving to the NBA. They continued their winning way after relocating to Los Angeles in 1960, and their record of 3,218-2,069 (.609) is the second-best in league history. A perennial contender, the Lakers have appeared in the NBA Finals in every decade since the 1940s. They won five championships while based in Minneapolis, and they've picked up another 11 since relocating to L.A. Notable players include Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry West.

Phoenix Suns

A 1968 expansion team, the Suns have put together a record of 2,099-1,707 (.551), which is fourth-best in league history. While they've yet to win a championship, they've been to the NBA Finals twice, been to the Western Conference Finals nine times, and won 50+ games in 19 seasons. Recent years have seen the team begin to rebuild, and they've suffered through a playoff drought since the 2010-2011 season. Notable players include Steve Nash, Kevin Johnson, and Alvan Adams.

Sacramento Kings

The oldest franchise in the NBA, they've been known as the Rochester Royals, Cincinnati Royals, Kansas City- Omaha Kings, and the Kansas City Kings. Their only championship win came in 1951, when the Rochester Royals defeated the New York Knicks in seven games. Their cumulative record is 2,431-2,856 (.460), although the Kings have never appeared in the NBA Finals. Notable players include Oscar Robertson, Sam Lacey, and Jack Twyman.

Southwest Division

Comprised of three Texas teams and a pair of other Southern franchises, the Southwest Division came into existence when the league expanded to 30 teams for the 2004-2005 season. Teams in the division have won 4 NBA titles since its creation, although they also captured another four championships prior to realignment. Every team in the division made the playoffs during the 2014-2015 season, an accomplishment that's only occurred twice in the last three decades. Notable rivalries include the Rockets vs Spurs and Mavericks vs Spurs.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs appeared in 1980, and they suffered through numerous years of mediocrity until purchased by current owner Mark Cuban. Their current record stands at 1,440-1,382 (.510), and they've captured two conference titles and an NBA title in 2011. In 2015, the value of the franchise was reported to be in excess of $1 billion. Notable players for the franchise have included Dirk Nowitzki, Brad Davis, and Rolando Blackman.

Houston Rockets

Created in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, the team would eventually move to Houston in 1971. Their overall record is 2,011-1,877 (.517), and they won NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. The team often uses statistical analysis to determine which players to draft or pursue in free agency, and the approach has yielded 12 playoff appearances in the last 20 seasons. Notable players include James Harden, Yao Ming, and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Memphis Grizzlies

Brought into the league as the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995, they relocated to Memphis following the 2000-2001 season. They struggled during their early years like most expansion teams, but they've put together five consecutive playoff appearances starting in 2011. Their overall record is 652-940 (.410), which is the third worst in the league. Notable players include Mike Conley, Pau Gasol, and Marc Gasol.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans for the 2002-2003 season, becoming the New Orleans Hornets in the process. They spent two seasons in Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina, becoming known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets during this period. After moving back to New Orleans during the 2007-2008, they rebranded themselves as the New Orleans Pelicans and returned the Hornets name and history to the then-Charlotte Bobcats. Their overall record is 498-552 (.474), and they've qualified for the playoffs in six out of 13 seasons. Notable players include Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, and Tyreke Evans.

San Antonio Spurs

Playing in both the ABA and NBA, the Spurs have enjoyed great success in both leagues. Their overall record is 1,939-1,211 (.616), which gives them the highest winning percentage in the history of the NBA. They've won a total of five titles, giving them the fourth-highest total behind the Bulls, Lakers, and Celtics. During the 2014-2015 season, they managed 50+ wins for the 16th consecutive year. Notable players include Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and George Gervin.

Famous NBA Coaches

The history of the National Basketball Association is filled with brilliant and innovative head coaches. Some have been masters of defensive schemes, while others specialized in accumulating a mind-boggling number of points. Regardless of their main area of expertise, the following men are some of the legendary names in the coaching world.

Phil Jackson

During his 20-year career, Jackson won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers. Nicknamed the "Zen Master," he drew upon Eastern philosophy to guide his coaching strategies. Also won two championships as a player with the New York Knicks, and he currently works as the president of the franchise.

Red Auerbach

Coached the Boston Celtics to nine NBA titles during his 20-year career, racking up a .662 regular-season winning percentage in the process. In addition to pioneering the fast break, Auerbach is noted for working to break down the color barrier in professional basketball. He also served as an executive with the Celtics until his death, winning seven more NBA titles during his tenure. Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968.

Pat Riley

Won four NBA titles with the Lakers and another with the Miami Heat during his 24-year coaching career. Reached 800 wins faster than any other coach in league history. Voted Coach of the Year on three occasions. Currently serving as team president of the Heat, Riley is the first person in sports to win a championship as player, coach, and executive.

Chuck Daly

During his 14-year career, led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back championships. He also coached the "Dream Team" to a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.

John Kundla

Coached the Minneapolis Lakers to five titles in the BAA and NBA within a six-year period. Achieved the fourth-best home winning percentage in history during the 1949-1950 season. Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Classic NBA Games

The NBA has produced thousands of thrilling contests over its history. The following, however, should all be considered as candidates for the greatest pro basketball game of all time.

Boston Celtics
Phoenix Suns
June 4th, 1976

This contest occurred during the 5th game of the NBA Finals, and broadcaster Rick Barry would refer to it as "the most exciting basketball game that I've ever seen." With the series tied 2-2, both teams refused to concede defeat throughout two overtime periods (including last-second goals by Gar Heard and John Havlicek). Most of the star players had fouled out by the third overtime period, leaving a backup by the name of Glenn McDonald to seal the victory at 128-126 and give the Celtics the win.

Utah Jazz
Houston Rockets
May 29th, 1997

The Jazz were enjoying their 14th straight playoff appearance, but they also found themselves down by 13 in the final quarter of game six against the Rockets. That's when Hall of Famer John Stockton rose to the occasion, getting hot and scoring 15 of his 25 points. The Jazz managed to draw even with just seconds remaining, and Stockton once again proved his value to the franchise. Coming off a screen set by teammate Karl Malone, a wide-open Stockton grabbed a pass from Byron Russell, squared up, and sank the three to win 103-100.

Detroit Pistons
Denver Nuggets
December 13th, 1983

If you're a fan of high-scoring games, it doesn't get any better than this record-setting regular-season game. The Nuggets of that era were known for their relentless offensive prowess, but the Pistons also rose to the occasion at the McNichols Arena. By the time the final buzzer had sounded, the teams had logged a combined 142 field goals and 93 assists. Isiah Thomas, John Long, Alex English, and Kiki Vandeweghe all score 40+ points on the way to a 186-184 Pistons victory in triple overtime.

Utah Jazz
Chicago Bulls
June 14th, 1998

This game saw Michael Jordan take his final shot as a Chicago Bull, and he managed to lead his team to a sixth NBA title in the process. With Scottie Pippen limited by a back injury and the Jazz desperate to avoid elimination, Jordan rose to the occasion by scoring a total of 45 points. With only 18.9 seconds remaining and his team trailing by one, MJ stole the ball from Karl Malone, maneuvered around Byron Russell, and sank a 20-foot shot to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. 5.2 seconds later, the Bulls completed another three-peat and brought the unforgettable Jordan era to a close.

New York Knicks
Philadelphia Warriors
March 2nd, 1962

While some games are memorable due to the combined play of a team, this legendary contest was all about individual effort. When the Warriors learned that opposing center Phil Jordan would miss the game with the flu, they decided to take advantage by feeding Wilt Chamberlain the ball at every opportunity. The strategy worked, as "Wilt the Stilt" racked up 69 points by the end of the third quarter and seemed within striking distance of his 78-point record. Thanks to an outgunned Knicks defense and teammates who kept committing fouls to stop the clock, Chamberlain finished the game with 100 points and set a record that may never be broken.

From the NBA Record Books

Straight from the NBA record books, here are some notable player milestones in the history of the league.

The record for all-time regular-season points belongs to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After playing 57,446 minutes over 1,560 games, the master of the Sky Hook ended his Hall of Fame career with 38,387 points.

The league record for steals belongs to Utah Jazz guard John Stockton. During his 19-year career, Stockton took the ball away from opposing players on 3,265 occasions, which averages out to 2.2 steals per game.

NBA players need to accumulate six fouls before being forced to sit out the rest of the game. In 1997, Bubba Wells managed to accomplish this feat in a record-breaking time of three minutes while playing against the Chicago Bulls. Coach Don Nelson had instructed Wells to foul Dennis Rodman as often as possible since "The Worm" was a traditionally poor free throw shooter.

Lakers power forward AC Green played 1,192 consecutive games over a 14-year span. He never missed a single contest. Because of this feat, Green was deservedly given the nickname "Iron Man."

The record for the most wins in a single season belongs to the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Led by Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman, the Bulls put together an amazing 72-10 record. The following year, they would finish at 69-13. The 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors finished with 67 wins, so there's always a chance the record could fall in the next few seasons.

Wilt Chamberlain holds the single-game record for points. While playing with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962, the 7'1" center scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks. The closest anyone came to breaking the record was in 2006, when Kobe Bryant scored 81 and still fell short by 20.

When it came to rubbing referees the wrong way, Rasheed Wallace stood head and shoulders above everyone during the 2000-2001 season. In fact, his total of 41 technical fouls during that season still remain an NBA record. It's not likely to be broken in the near future, either, as the league has since instituted a policy automatically suspending a player after they've acquired 16technical fouls in a season.

During the 2008-2009 season, Spanish point guard Jose Calderon broke the record for free throw percentage that had stood for over 25 years. He accomplished this by attempting 154 free throws and only missing three (for a 98.1 shooting percentage).

NBA Champions

Each year, the best NBA teams meet in the postseason to determine the champion for that season. The award given to the top finisher was originally known as the NBA Finals trophy, but this was changed to the Walter A. Brown Trophy from 1964 to 1984 (when it became the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy). Much like the NHL, the original tradition was for the winning team to keep the trophy for a year and then pass it on to the next champion, but this practice ended in 1977.

The following is a complete list of all the teams to win a title since the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to form the NBA.

  • 1950Minneapolis Lakers
  • 1951Rochester Royals
  • 1952Minneapolis Lakers
  • 1953Minneapolis Lakers
  • 1954Minneapolis Lakers
  • 1955Syracuse Nationals
  • 1956Philadelphia Warriors
  • 1957Boston Celtics
  • 1958St.Louis Hawks
  • 1959Boston Celtics
  • 1960Boston Celtics
  • 1961Boston Celtics
  • 1962Boston Celtics
  • 1963Boston Celtics
  • 1964Boston Celtics
  • 1965Boston Celtics
  • 1966Boston Celtics
  • 1967Philadelphia 76ers
  • 1968Boston Celtics
  • 1969Boston Celtics
  • 1970New York Knicks
  • 1971Milwaukee Bucks
  • 1972Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1973New York Knicks
  • 1974Boston Celtics
  • 1975Golden State Warriors
  • 1976Boston Celtics
  • 1977Portland Trail Blazers
  • 1978Washington Bullets
  • 1979Seattle SuperSonics
  • 1980Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1981Boston Celtics
  • 1982Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1983Philadelphia 76ers
  • 1984Boston Celtics
  • 1985Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1986Boston Celtics
  • 1987Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1988Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1989Detroit Pistons
  • 1990Detroit Pistons
  • 1991Chicago Bulls
  • 1992Chicago Bulls
  • 1993Chicago Bulls
  • 1994Houston Rockets
  • 1995Houston Rockets
  • 1996Chicago Bulls
  • 1997Chicago Bulls
  • 1998Chicago Bulls
  • 1999San Antonio Spurs
  • 2000Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2001Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2002Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2003San Antonio Spurs
  • 2004Detroit Pistons
  • 2005San Antonio Spurs
  • 2006Miami Heat
  • 2007San Antonio Spurs
  • 2008Boston Celtics
  • 2009Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2010Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2011Dallas Mavericks
  • 2012Miami Heat
  • 2013Miami Heat
  • 2014San Antonio Spurs
  • 2015Golden State Warriors
  • 2016Cleveland Cavaliers
  • 2017Golden State Warriors

Just in case you can't be bothered to read through the entire list above, here's a rundown of the NBA franchises to capture multiple championships (as of early 2018).

  • Boston Celtics (17)
  • Los Angeles Lakers/Minneapolis Lakers (16)
  • Chicago Bulls (6)
  • San Antonio Spurs (5)
  • Golden State Warriors/Philadelphia Warriors/San Francisco Warriors (5)
  • Philadelphia 76ers/Syracuse Nationals (3)
  • Detroit Pistons/Fort Wayne Pistons (3)
  • Miami Heat (3)
  • New York Knicks (2)
  • Houston Rockets (2)

Major NBA Scandals

Each year, the best NBA teams meet in the postseason to determine the champion for that season. The award given to the top finisher was originally known as the NBA Finals trophy, but this was changed to the Walter A. Brown Trophy from 1964 to 1984 (when it became the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy). Much like the NHL, the original tradition was for the winning team to keep the trophy for a year and then pass it on to the next champion, but this practice ended in 1977.

The following is a complete list of all the teams to win a title since the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to form the NBA.

Malice at the Palace

During a 2004 games between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers at The Palace of Auburn Hills, a fight broke out on the court after Ben Wallace took violent exception to being fouled by Ron Artest. Several players got involved, and Artest eventually ended up resting on the scorer's table. That's when a fan threw a drink on him, and the volatile small forward (who would later legally change his name to Metta World Peace) wasted no time in wading into the crowd in search of the perpetrator. Absolute chaos broke loose as players and fans brawled, and the suspensions handed down to nine players totaled 146 games and $11 million in lost pay.

Phantom Buzzer Game

During a 1969 game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago, the Hawks were leading 124-122 with seconds remaining. A desperation shot by the Bulls was tipped in, but referee Bob Rakel refused to allow the tying goal because he claimed to have heard the final buzzer sound. Despite the fact that one second remained on the clock, and in the face of overwhelming evidence, Rakel refuses to reverse his decision. A petition was immediately filed with the league office by the Bulls, and it was the first time that the NBA upheld an official protest. The game was later finished, although the Bulls lost in overtime by a score of 142-137.

Donald Sterling Controversy

In 2014, Clippers owners Donald Sterling had a long talk with his mistress, but it turned out that the entire conversation was being recorded. During their chat, Sterling gave her permission to take black lovers, but he then remarked, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people." The audio ended up in the hands of TMZ, and the media had a field day raking Sterling and the league over the coals. Sterling lost out on a chance to receive a second lifetime achievement award from the NAACP, and even President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy. Four days after the tapes became public, Sterling was fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life.

Knicks-Nuggets Brawl

Two years after the Pacers-Pistons brawl, an on-court battle took place between the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets. Seven players wound up with suspensions after the melee, including Carmelo Anthony, Nate Robinson, and J.R. Smith. No suspension was forthcoming for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, however, even though he reportedly told his players to deliver a hard foul to any opponent attempting a dunk or layup and even went so far as to personally warn Carmelo Anthony about going into the lane.

Tim Donaghy Betting Scandal

From 1994 to 2007, Tim Donaghy worked as an NBA referee and officiated 772 regular season games and 20 playoff games. He resigned from the league in 2007, but this was shortly followed by the release of an FBI report alleging that Donaghy had been betting on games he was officiating for the last two years. While the league suffered a major black eye in the media, the former referee was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. During interviews with federal agents, he also claimed that the league would sometimes seek to manipulate games by using referees, a claim that would provide NBA conspiracy theorists with years-worth of ammunition.

Interesting facts about the NBA

Looking for a way to break the ice with an NBA fan?

If so, try throwing out one of these interesting bits of basketball trivia to get the conversation started.

  • After the Air Jordan brand of sneaker was introduced, NBA players were banned from wearing them during games. Michael Jordan chose to wear them anyway, as Nike happily paid each fine.
  • In the 1983 NBA draft, Philadelphia 76ers owner Harold Katz drafted Norman Horvitz, a 49-year-old from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. While the exact reason for this was never known, the most common version involves the two men being poker buddies.
  • From 1990 to 1998, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls never lost more than two consecutive games.
  • Tim Duncan originally aspired to be a swimmer and compete on the 1992 Olympic team. When Hurricane Hugo destroyed his training facility, lessons were moved to the ocean. Due to his extreme fear of sharks, Duncan put his swimming dreams on hold and took up basketball to stay in shape.
  • None of the following NBA stars played basketball at the college level: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Moses Malone, Dwight Howard, Shawn Kemp, and Tracy McGrady.
  • When Michael Jordan stepped away from the NBA to try his hand at baseball, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf continued to pay his $4 million annual salary.
  • Notorious eccentric Rasheed Wallace had his Pistons championship ring made so that it would fit his middle finger. One can only guess at the reasons for this.
  • The three-point shot originated in the ABA and didn't appear in the NBA until the 1979-1980 season.
  • During the 1961-1962 season, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 22.9 rebounds per game. Despite these incredible numbers, the MVP award for that season went to Bill Russell. It should also be noted that Wilt the Stilt's scoring average is 31.6% better than the next-highest.
  • During his career, Shaquille O'Neal missed 5,317 free throws. Only 72 players in the history of the league have even attempted more than that number.

Betting on the NBA

As the biggest basketball league in the world and a member of the "big four" betting sports, the NBA is a prime market for amateur and expert sports bettors to make some serious cash. With all different types of bets available, you can leverage all your past NBA knowledge and future NBA predictions to put some cold hard cash in your wallet.

NBA betting is not easy, though, especially if you don't know where or how to get started. Thankfully, we've compiled a healthy list of resources to help get you started on the road towards profitability. From helping you select sites to bet with (critical for line shopping) to helping you understand the nuances of the game to advanced betting strategies, we cover everything from A to Z to take you from Joe to Pro.

We recommend starting with the NBA Betting Sites guide below to establish your home base and then moving on to the Basketball Betting Guide to start establishing and building your winning strategy. This is the optimal progression as recommended by our experts on staff.

NBA Betting Sites

Choosing where to bet online can sometimes be as important if not more than the strategies you employ. A good NBA betting site will give you easy to navigate odds, tons of betting options for ultimate flexibility, and a user interface that is well laid out to empower you to make mistake-free bets. Don't overlook the decision on where to bet; it could be the most profitable or most costly mistake you make in your entire NBA betting career.

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Basketball Betting Guide

If you're interested in betting on basketball then you should definitely take a look at this guide. The same applies if you're already betting on basketball, but not getting the results you want. This guide caters for beginners by explaining all the basics, and for more experienced bettors by covering some in-depth strategy. There's a whole lot of information and advice here that might just help you make some money.

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