The National Basketball Association of the United States and Canada, commonly known as the NBA, is the premier professional basketball league in North America. Many of the world's best players play in the NBA, and the overall standard of the competition is often considered considerably higher than any other professional competition. Players in other nations looking to jumpstart their career often join NBA teams in the hope of becoming a star player and gaining international exposure. The NBA logo is a silhouette of former Laker great and current Memphis Grizzlies GM Jerry West.
The NBA was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). It adopted the name National Basketball Association in the fall of 1949 after adding several teams from the rival National Basketball League.
The NBA, comprised entirely of white players and coaches upon its founding, became the first professional sports league to have a black head coach in 1966, the first to have a black general manager in 1972, and the first to have a black franchise owner in 2002.
The league's several international offices and 30 teams are directed out of New York City (Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue) and Secaucus, New Jersey (home of NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios).
The NBA and EA Sports also produce games based on the league for the PC and various game consoles approximately every year, called NBA Live.
Following the summer break, teams hold training camps in October. Training camps allows 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. 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.
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 remaing 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 Rookie-Sophomore game, which pits the best rookies and the best sophomores against each other, the 3-Point Shootout, a competition between players to see who is the best 3-point shooter, and the 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 selection to honorary leaguewide 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 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 Executive of the Year Award is awarded to the general manager who has made the best moves during the season. The NBA Most Valuable Player Award is given to player deemed most valuable for that season.
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 defenders at each position. There are also two All-Rookie teams, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.
In late April, the NBA Playoffs begin. The eight teams in each conference with the best regular season records 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 each conference and ranking them by regular season record. The other five seeds are determined by taking the five teams with the next-best records 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. In previous years, the team with the higher seed always received home court advantage in the first round. However, starting in 2004-2005, with each conference now having 3 divisions, the team with the best record has home court advantage in every single round, 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 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 record receives home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs.
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 and repeat the process. Thus, all but one team in each conference are eliminated from the playoffs.
The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals. This is held in June, and is usually highly competitive. 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, while the best player on the winning team is awarded the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. However, there has been one exception to this unwritten rule; Jerry West won the award in 1969 even though his Los Angeles Lakers did not win the championship.
NBA Finals results
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NBA Presidents and Commissioners