by: Jena Luthovski
The history of what today is called the National Basketball Association (NBA) began in 1946. In 1946, it was called the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league was mostly started by people who owned sports arenas in the United States, most importantly the Madison Square Garden in New York City. Earlier attempts had been made to start a league. There had been leagues like the American Basketball League and the National Basketball League. What made the BAA different from these leagues was they were going to play in large arenas in major cities. The early years were not good for BAA as the quality of play was not much better than competing leagues or the leading independent leagues like the Harlem Globetrotters. The Baltimore actually moved from the ABL and won the BAA title. The Minneapolis Lakers switched from the NBL to the BAA and won the BAA championship.
After the 1949 season, the BAA merged with the NBL and renamed the National Basketball Association. The new NBA had 17 franchises in large and small cities. The teams played in large arenas, small gymnasiums and armories. The team in the small cities eventually moved to larger cities such as the Pistons going from Fort Wayne to Detroit.
The NBA did not become integrated until 1950. African-Americans like Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Earl Lloyd joined the NBA. In 2006, the NBA is mad up of people from many different races and countries. 80 percent of NBA players are now African-American.
In 1967, the league faced strong competition when the American Basketball Association was formed. The leagues competed fiercely over talent. The NBA beat the America Basketball Association in getting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the most important college star of the era. Kareem helped the Milwaukee Bucks win the NBA championship in his second season and he later played for the Los Angeles Lakers on five championship teams. The NBA did lost their losing scorer, Rick Barry, as well as four veteran referees to ABA. The ABA also got other major stars such as Julius Erving because this league allowed its team to sign college graduates. The ABA lost to the NBA since the NBA took most of the major cities and adopted innovations from the ABA such as the three-point field goal.
Starting with the 1980s and beyond, the league became well known globally. The best players in the league like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird being part of Olympics certainly helped spreading the word about this league to the world. Michael Jordan became a well known name in America and other countries.
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