The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the top tier level of basketball in North America. The franchise has 30 teams, with all but one – Canada’s Toronto Raptors – based in the United States. Initially, when it was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, it was known as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) before becoming the NBA after successfully merging with rival organisation the National Basketball League (NBL).
The immediate predecessor to the NBA before its merger, the BAA, had 11 teams when it was founded in 1946. Unlike some other Norther American teams, which saw continued growth and expansion, the BAA (later the NBA) actually experienced a period in which the franchise shrank in size throughout its history. By the following year, the league was down to eight teams, and despite reaching 17 teams during the 1949/1950 season, it was back down to just nine teams by 1966.
However, after years of expansion and contraction, the NBA began to grow at a steady rate starting in 1966. Starting with the Chicago Bulls in 1966, 13 additional teams joined the franchise between 1967 and 1980, thus helping the NBA to grow from just nine teams to 23 by 1980. Seven more teams were then added from 1981 to 2004, with the Charlotte Hornets (previously known as the Charlotte Bobcats from 2004 to 2014) officially being recognised as the franchise’s 30th team in 2004. But in 2013, the title of “newest team” was granted to the New Orleans Pelicans (who were known as the Hornets from 2002-2005 and 2007-2013) following a “swap” deal of the Hornets name and history between themselves and the now-named Charlotte Hornets.
In any case, the franchise has been operating in its 30 team format since 2004 and although there has been talk of possible expansion in other cities in not just the United States, but also Canada and potentially even Mexico, nothing has come to fruition.
The NBA is split into two conferences: Eastern and Western, and is further broken down into six divisions: Atlantic, Central, Southeast, Northwest, Pacific, and Southwest. Each of these divisions has five teams.
Each year, all teams have a chance to compete for the chance to feature in the playoffs and be crowned NBA champion. Over the course of the season, which lasts from October to April, each team plays 82 games (41 home and 41 away) to determine their ranking.
The playoffs take place after the regular season and conclude in June. Like the NHL, the NBA playoffs also features the top 16 teams playing in a “best of seven” format to advance to the next round and ultimately determine the victor, which is decided between the winner of the Eastern and Western Conferences. These days, NBA live streaming of the conference finals has become as commonplace as following the seven-game series on TV.
The Boston Celtics are the franchise’s most successful side; however, they are not the oldest. That honour goes to the Sacramento Kings, who were founded in 1923 – 23 years before the NBA was created. The Sacramento Kings are an interesting story in themselves: They initially began as a semi-professional outfit in Rochester, New York (as the Rochester Seagrams), and then professionally with the NBL as the Rochester Royals before repeatedly moving across the country over its history before settling down in Sacramento in 1985.
In the USA, NBA matches are broadcast nationally and regionally on TV, radio, and live-streamed online and widely available on-demand. Spanish-language coverage is available across all the NBA’s divisions, and French-language options are also available in the Atlantic division as well in the United States.
In Canada, meanwhile, live streaming, on-demand and radio broadcasts in English and French are available for users, as well as regional and national TV broadcasts covering the regular season and the playoffs.
NBA TV, a specialty channel sponsored by the league, also provides exclusive coverage for fans in the United States. Fans outside the United States can enjoy the same coverage via its international arm, NBA TV international.
Over in the UK and elsewhere internationally, fans can enjoy live streaming of NBA matches and TV coverage, especially in countries like Croatia, France, Ghana, Greece, Lithuania, Nigeria, Serbia, and Spain where basketball has a massive following.