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National Basketball Association

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National Basketball Association (NBA)
Current season or competition:
2010–11 NBA season
NBA logo depicting Jerry West
Sport Basketball
Founded June 6, 1946
Commissioner David Stern
Inaugural season 1946–47
No. of teams 30
Country(ies)  United States (29 teams)
 Canada (1 team)
Continent FIBA Americas ( Americas)
Most recent champion(s) Los Angeles Lakers (16th title)
Most titles Boston Celtics (17 titles)
TV partner(s) ABC
Official website

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America which consists of thirty franchised member clubs, of which twenty-nine are located in the United States and one in Canada. It is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by the International Basketball Federation as the National Governing Body (NGB) for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues, which include Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).

The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association in 1949 after merging with the rival National Basketball League (NBL). The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.



The Basketball Association of America was founded in 1946 by the owners of the major ice hockey arenas in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Canada. On November 1, 1946, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers at Maple Leaf Gardens, which the NBA now regards as the first game played in the league's history. Although there had been earlier attempts at professional basketball leagues, including the American Basketball League and the NBL, the BAA was the first league to attempt to play primarily in large arenas in major cities. During its early years, the quality of play in the BAA was not significantly better than in competing leagues or among leading independent clubs such as the Harlem Globetrotters. For instance, the 1948 ABL finalist Baltimore Bullets moved to the BAA and won that league's 1948 title, and the 1948 NBL champion Minneapolis Lakers won the 1949 BAA title.


On August 3, 1949, the BAA agreed to merge with the NBL, creating the new National Basketball Association. The new league had seventeen franchises located in a mix of large and small cities, as well as large arenas and smaller gymnasiums and armories. In 1950, the NBA consolidated to eleven franchises, a process that continued until 1953-54, when the league reached its smallest size of eight franchises, all of which are still in the league (the Knicks, Celtics, Warriors, Lakers, Royals/Kings, Pistons, Hawks, and Nationals/76ers).

The process of contraction saw the league's smaller-city franchises move to larger cities. The Hawks shifted from "Tri-Cities" (the area now known as the Quad Cities) to Milwaukee (in 1951) and then to St. Louis (in 1955); the Royals from Rochester to Cincinnati (in 1957); and the Pistons from Fort Wayne to Detroit (in 1957).

Although Japanese-American Wataru Misaka technically broke the NBA colour barrier in the 1947–48 season when he played for the New York Knicks, 1950 is recognized as the year the NBA integrated. This year witnessed the addition of African American players by several teams, including Chuck Cooper with the Boston Celtics, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton with the New York Knicks, and Earl Lloyd with the Washington Capitols.

During this period, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by centre George Mikan, won five NBA Championships and established themselves as the league's first dynasty. To encourage shooting and discourage stalling, the league introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954. If a team does not attempt to score a field goal (or the ball fails to make contact with the rim) within 24 seconds of obtaining the ball, play is stopped and the ball given to its opponent.

In 1957, rookie centre Bill Russell joined the Boston Celtics, who already featured guard Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, and went on to lead the club to eleven NBA titles in thirteen seasons. Centre Wilt Chamberlain entered the league with the Warriors in 1959 and became a dominant individual star of the 1960s, setting new single game records in scoring (100) and rebounding (55). Russell's rivalry with Chamberlain became one of the great individual rivalries in the history of American team sports.


The Boston Celtics' Bill Russell defending the Philadelphia 76ers' Wilt Chamberlain in 1966.

The 1960s were dominated by the Boston Celtics. Led by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics won every championship in the NBA from the 1958–1959 season through 1965–1966. The streak is the longest in NBA history at 8 in a row. They did not repeat in 1966–1967 but regained the title in the 1967–1968 season and repeated in 1968–1969. The domination totaled nine of the 10 championship banners of the 1960s.

Through this period, the NBA continued to strengthen with the shift of the Minneapolis Lakers to Los Angeles, the Philadelphia Warriors to San Francisco, and the Syracuse Nationals to Philadelphia, as well as the addition of its first expansion franchises. The Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) became the 9th NBA team in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, the league expanded from nine teams to fourteen, introducing the Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder), San Diego Rockets (who relocated to Houston four years later), Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.

In 1967, the league faced a new external threat with the formation of the American Basketball Association. The leagues engaged in a bidding war. The NBA landed the most important college star of the era, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). However, the NBA's leading scorer, Rick Barry jumped to the ABA, as did four veteran referees— Norm Drucker, Earl Strom, John Vanak, and Joe Gushue.


The American Basketball Association also succeeded in signing a number of major stars, including Julius Erving of the Virginia Squires, in part because it allowed teams to sign college undergraduates. The NBA expanded rapidly during this period, one purpose being to tie up the most viable cities. From 1966 to 1974, the NBA grew from nine franchises to 18. In 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) all made their debuts expanding the league to 17. The New Orleans Jazz (now in Utah) came aboard in 1974 bringing the total to 18. Following the 1976 season, the leagues reached a settlement that provided for the addition of four ABA franchises to the NBA, raising the number of franchises in the league at that time to 22. The franchises added were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and New York Nets (now the New Jersey Nets). Some of the biggest stars of this era were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rick Barry, Dave Cowens, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Dan Issel, and Pete Maravich.

The end of the decade, however, saw declining TV ratings, low attendance and drug-related issues that threatened to derail the NBA.


Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game Two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden.

The league added the ABA's innovative three-point field goal beginning in 1979 to open up the game. That same year, rookies Larry Bird and Magic Johnson joined the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, initiating a period of significant growth in fan interest in the NBA throughout the country and the world. In 1984 they played against each other for the first time in the NBA Finals. Johnson went on to lead the Lakers to five titles, and Bird went on to lead the Celtics to three. Also in the early '80s, the NBA added one more expansion franchise, the Dallas Mavericks, bringing the total to 23 teams. Later on, Larry Bird won the first three three-point shooting contests.

Current league commissioner David Stern took office on April 1, 1984, and oversaw the expansion and growth of the NBA to a global commodity.


Michael Jordan entered the league in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls, providing an even more popular star to support growing interest in the league. This resulted in more cities demanding teams of their own. In 1988 and 1989, four cities got their wishes as the Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Hornets), Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Minnesota Timberwolves made their NBA debuts. In the first year of the 1990s, the Detroit Pistons would win the second of their back-to-back "Bad Boys" titles, lead by Chuck Daly as coach and Isiah Thomas as floor general.

Jordan and Scottie Pippen would lead the Bulls to six championships in eight years during the 1990s. Hakeem Olajuwon won back-to-back titles with the Houston Rockets in '94 and '95.

The 1992 Olympic basketball Dream Team, the first to use current NBA stars, featured Michael Jordan as the anchor, along with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Christian Laettner.

In 1995, the NBA expanded to Canada with the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis, which left the Raptors as the only Canadian team in the NBA.

In 1996, the NBA created a women's league, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

In 1998, the NBA owners began a lockout which lasted 191 days and was settled on January 18, 1999. As a result of this lockout the 1998–99 NBA season was reduced from 82 to 50 games (61% of a normal season), and the All-Star Game was cancelled. The San Antonio Spurs won the championship on June 25 by beating the New York Knicks, the first and to this date, the only 8th seed to ever make the NBA Finals.


Since the break-up of the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1998, the Western Conference has dominated, with the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs combining to win the title in nine of twelve years. One or the other has won the Western Conference title every year except in 2006 (when the Dallas Mavericks won the conference title). Tim Duncan and David Robinson won the 1999 championship with the San Antonio Spurs, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant started the 2000s off with the three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs reclaimed the title in 2003 against the Nets.

In 2004, the Lakers returned to the Finals, only to fall in five games to the Detroit Pistons. The following off-season, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat, and the Charlotte Bobcats were established as the league's 30th team. The Spurs won their third championship in 2005.

The 2006 Finals featured two cities making their first Finals appearances. The Miami Heat led by their star shooting guard, Dwyane Wade, and Shaquille O'Neal won the series over the Dallas Mavericks in six games after losing games 1 and 2.

The Lakers/Spurs dominance continued in 2007 with a four-game sweep by the San Antonio Spurs over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were led by LeBron James. The 2008 Finals saw a rematch of the league's highest profile rivalry, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Celtics prevailing, thanks to their big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett.

However, in 2009, the Lakers with Kobe Bryant returned to the Finals, this time defeating the Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic for their 15th title. Kobe Bryant won his first NBA Finals MVP award in his 13th season after leading the Lakers to their first NBA championship since the departure of Shaquille O'Neal.


The 2010 NBA All-Star Game was held at Cowboys Stadium in front of the largest crowd ever, 108,713. The 2010 playoffs began on April 17, 2010. The eight Eastern Conference teams that made it to the playoffs were the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, and Charlotte Bobcats. The qualifying Western Conference teams were the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and the Dallas Mavericks. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished the season with the best record in both the east and the entire NBA, but were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semi-Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers finished with the best record in the west. The Lakers beat the Suns in 6 games, advancing to the NBA Finals for the 31st time. The Boston Celtics also advanced to the NBA Finals, defeating the Orlando Magic in 6 games. The Celtics and the Lakers renewed their rivalry from 2008 when they met again in the NBA Finals for the 12th time. The Lakers won the title in the 7th game, 83-79. Kobe Bryant won his second Finals MVP award.

International influence

Following pioneers like Dražen Petrović (Croatia) who joined the NBA in the late 1980s, an increasing number of international players have moved directly from playing elsewhere in the world to starring in the NBA. Below is a short list of notable foreign players, either currently or formerly active in the league:

  • Toni Kukoč, Croatia - 3-time NBA Champion with Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998), named in 2008 as one of the 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
  • Vlade Divac, Serbia - 2-time Olympic silver medalist, 2001 NBA All-Star, 2 time World Champion, 3-time European Champion, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
  • Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania – 1984, 1985, 1988, 1995, 1999 European Player of the Year, 1985, 1997 Mr. Europa Player of the Year, Olympic gold medalist in 1988 with the Soviet Union and bronze medalist in 1992 and 1996 with Lithuania, 1996 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Germany – MVP of the 2002 World Championships and Eurobasket 2005, 2002–2006 Euroscar winner, 2005 Mr. Europa and FIBA Europe Player of the Year, and 2007 NBA MVP (entered the NBA in 1998)
  • Hedo Türkoğlu, Turkey – 2008 Most Improved Player Award winner, member of the all-tournament team in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (entered the NBA in 2000)
  • Mehmet Okur, Turkey - 1-time NBA champion and 1 time all star
  • Pau Gasol, Spain – 2-time NBA Champion with Los Angeles Lakers (2009 & 2010), Three time NBA All-Star, 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, 2004 and 2009 Mr. Europa, 2006 World Championships MVP, 2008 and 2009 Euroscar and FIBA Europe Player of the Year, EuroBasket 2009 MVP (entered the NBA in 2001)
  • Andrei Kirilenko, Russia – EuroBasket 2007 MVP, 2007 FIBA Europe Player of the Year (drafted in 1999, entered the NBA in 2001)
  • Tony Parker, France – 3-time NBA Champion with San Antonio Spurs, 2007 NBA Finals MVP and 2007 Euroscar winner (entered the NBA in 2001)
  • Manu Ginóbili, Argentina – 3-time NBA Champion with San Antonio Spurs, 2008 Sixth Man Award winner, 50 Greatest Euroleague Contributors (drafted in 1999, entered the NBA in 2002)
  • Yao Ming, China – First pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and 7-time NBA All-Star (entered the NBA in 2002)
  • Leandro Barbosa, Brazil – 2007 Sixth Man Award winner (entered the NBA in 2003)
  • Andrea Bargnani, Italy – First pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors (entered the NBA in 2006)
  • Omri Casspi, Israel - Israel national basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C., and European star who got drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Lithuania - 20th pick in 1996 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 2-time All-Star

On some occasions, young players, most but not all from the English-speaking world, have attended U.S. colleges before playing in the NBA. Notable examples are

  • Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon ( top draft pick in 1984, 2-time champion, 12-time All-Star, 1994 MVP, 1994 and 1995 Finals MVP, 1994 and 1995 Defensive Player of the Year, first and only player to receive the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Finals MVP award in the same season, and Hall of Famer)
  • Congolese Dikembe Mutombo (Four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft and 8-time NBA All-Star)
  • Dutchman Rik Smits (1988 second overall pick, 1998 NBA All-Star, played 12 years for the Indiana Pacers)
  • German Detlef Schrempf (Sixth Man Award winner in 1991 and 1992)
  • Canadian Steve Nash (2005 and 2006 MVP)
  • Australians Luc Longley (3-times champion with the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls in 1990s) and Andrew Bogut, ( top draft pick in 2005).
  • Sudanese-born Englishman Luol Deng (2007 winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award)

Since 2006, the NBA has faced Euroleague teams in exhibition matches in the NBA Europe Live Tour and since 2009 in the Euroleague American Tour.

The 2009–10 season season opened with a record of 83 international players on the opening night rosters, tying the record set in the 2006–07 season.

Other developments

In 2001, an affiliated minor league, the National Basketball Development League, now called the NBA Development League (or D-League) was created. Before the league was started, there were strong rumors that the NBA would purchase the CBA, and call it its developmental league, as the Continental Basketball Association was its "minor league" affiliate for years. 20% of NBA players spent time in this league and over 143 players have been called up to play in the NBA.

In 2004, two years after the Hornets relocation to New Orleans, the NBA returned to North Carolina as the Charlotte Bobcats were formed.

In 2005, the Hornets relocated to Oklahoma City for two seasons. This was required due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, the Hornets returned to New Orleans.

Trail Blazers

On June 28, 2006, a new official game ball was introduced for the 2006–07 season, marking the first change to the ball in over 35 years and only the second ball in 60 seasons. Manufactured by Spalding, the new ball featured a new design and new synthetic material that Spalding claimed offered a better grip, feel, and consistency than the original ball. However, many players were vocal in their disdain for the new ball, saying that it was too sticky when dry, and too slippery when wet.

On December 11, 2006, Commissioner Stern announced that beginning January 1, 2007, the NBA would return to the traditional leather basketball in use prior to the 2006–2007 season. The change was influenced by frequent player complaints and confirmed hand injuries (cuts) caused by the microfiber ball. The Players' Association had filed a suit in behalf of the players against the NBA over the new ball. As of 2006, the NBA team jerseys are manufactured by Adidas, which purchased the previous supplier, Reebok.

On July 19, 2007, the FBI investigated allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games he officiated over the past two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games. On August 15, 2007, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. However, he could face additional charges if it is determined that he deliberately miscalled individual games. Donaghy in 2008 claimed that certain refs were friendly with the players and "company men" for the NBA. Donaghy alleged that refs influenced the outcome of certain playoff games in 2002 and 2005. NBA commissioner David Stern denied the allegations and said Donaghy was a convicted felon and a "singing, cooperating witness".

In June 2008, it was announced that the Seattle SuperSonics would be rendered inactive and the franchise itself would relocate to Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Thunder began playing in the 2008–2009 season. This marks the third NBA franchise to relocate in the past decade.

On October 11, 2008, the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets played the first outdoor game in the modern era of the NBA at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

On September 1, 2009, the contract between the NBA and its referees expired. On October 1, 2009, the first preseason games were played and replacement referees from the WNBA and NBA Development League were used. The last time replacement referees were used was beginning of the 1995-96 season. The NBA and the regular referees reached a deal on October 23, 2009.


The NBA originated in 1946 with 11 teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations currently consists of 30 teams. The United States is home to 29 teams and one is located in Canada. The Boston Celtics have won the most championships with 17 NBA Finals wins. The second most successful franchise is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 16 overall championships (11 in Los Angeles, 5 in Minneapolis). Following the Lakers are the Chicago Bulls with six championships, all of them over an 8-year span during the 1990s, and the San Antonio Spurs with four championships, all since 1999.

The current league organization divides thirty teams into two conferences of three divisions with five teams each. The current divisional alignment was introduced in the 2004–05 season.

  1. An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
  2. The Fort Wayne Pistons, Minneapolis Lakers and Rochester Royals all joined the NBA (BAA) in 1948 from the NBL.
  3. The Syracuse Nationals and Tri-Cities Blackhawks joined the NBA in 1949 as part of the BAA-NBL merger.
  4. The Indiana Pacers, New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs, and Denver Nuggets all joined the NBA in 1976 as part of the NBA- ABA merger.

Regular season

Following the summer break, teams begin training camps in late September. Training camps allow the coaching staff to evaluate players (especially rookies), scout the team's strengths and weaknesses, prepare the players for the rigorous regular season, and determine the 12-man active roster (and a 3-man inactive list) with which they will begin the regular season. Teams have the ability to assign players with less than two years of experience to the NBA development league. After training camp, a series of preseason exhibition games are held. The NBA regular season begins in the last week of October. During the regular season, each team plays 82 games, 41 each home and away. A team faces opponents in its own division four times a year (16 games), teams from the other two divisions in its conference either three or four times (36 games), and teams in the other conference twice apiece (30 games). This asymmetrical structure means the strength of schedule will vary between teams (but not as significantly as the NFL or MLB).

As of 2008, the NBA is one of only two of the Big 4 in North America in which teams play every other team during the regular season (the other being the National Hockey League.) Each team hosts and visits every other team at least once every season. For a few seasons until 2008, the NBA had the distinction of being the only one of the four major leagues in which all teams play every other team.

The NBA is also the only league that regularly schedules games on Christmas Day. The league has been playing games regularly on the holiday since 1947, though the first Christmas Day games weren't televised until 1983–84. Games played on this day have featured some of the best teams and players. Christmas is also notable for NBA on television, as the holiday is when the first NBA games air on network television each season.

Milwaukee Bucks playing the Charlotte Bobcats in a regular season game

In February, the regular season pauses to celebrate the annual NBA All-Star Game. Fans vote throughout the United States, Canada, and on 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 remaining 14 All-Stars. Then, Eastern conference players face the Western conference players in the All-Star game. The player with the best performance during the game is rewarded with a Game MVP award. Other attractions of the All-Star break include the Rookie Challenge, where the top rookies and second-year players in the NBA play against each other in a 5-on-5 basketball game; the Skills Challenge, where players compete to finish an obstacle course comprising of shooting, passing and dribbling in the fastest time; the Three Point Contest, where players compete to score the most amount of three-point field goals in a given time; and the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, where players compete to dunk the ball in the most entertaining way according to the judges. These other attractions have varying names which include the names of the various sponsors who have paid for naming rights.

Shortly after the All-Star break is the trade deadline, which is set to fall on the 16th Thursday of the season (usually in February) at 3pm Eastern Time. 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. Major trades are often completed right before the trading deadline, making that day a hectic time for general managers.

Around the middle of April, the regular season ends. It is during this time that voting begins for individual awards, as well as the selection of the honorary, league-wide, post-season teams. The Sixth Man of the Year Award is given to the best player coming off the bench (must have more games coming off the bench than actual games started). The Rookie of the Year Award is awarded to the most outstanding first-year player. The Most Improved Player Award is awarded to the player who is deemed to have shown the most improvement from the previous season. The Defensive Player of the Year Award is awarded to the league's best defender. The Coach of the Year Award is awarded to the coach that has made the most positive difference to a team. The Most Valuable Player Award is given to player deemed the most valuable for (his team) that season. Additionally, Sporting News awards an unofficial (but widely recognized) Executive of the Year Award to the general manager who is adjudged to have performed the best job for the benefit of his franchise.

The post-season teams are the All-NBA Team, the All-Defensive Team, and the All-Rookie Team; each consists of five players. There are three All-NBA teams, consisting of the top players at each position, with first-team status being the most desirable. There are two All-Defensive teams, consisting of the top defenders at each position. There are also two All-Rookie teams, consisting of the top first-year players regardless of position.


NBA Playoffs begin in late April, with eight teams in each conference going for the Championship. The three division winners, along with the team with the next best record from the conference are given the top four seeds. The next four teams in terms of record are given the lower four seeds.

Having a higher seed offers several advantages. Since the first seed begins the playoffs playing against 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, having a higher seed means a team faces a weaker team in the first round. The team in each series with the better record has home court advantage, including the First Round. This means that, for example, if the team who receives the 5 seed has a better record than the team with the 4 seed (by virtue of a divisional championship), the 5 seed would have home court advantage, even though the other team has a higher seed. Therefore, the team with the best regular season record in the league is guaranteed home court advantage in every series it plays. For example, in 2006, the Denver Nuggets won 44 games and captured the Northwest Division and the #3 seed. Their opponent was the #6 seeded Los Angeles Clippers, who won 47 games and finished second in the Pacific Division. Although Denver won its much weaker division, the Clippers had home-court advantage and won the series in five games.

The playoffs follow a tournament format. Each team plays an opponent in a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games advancing into the next 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. All but one team in each conference are eliminated from the playoffs. Since the NBA does not re-seed teams, the playoff bracket in each conference uses a traditional design, with the winner of the series matching the 1st and 8th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 4th and 5th seeded teams, and the winner of the series matching the 2nd and 7th seeded teams playing the winner of the series matching the 3rd and 6th seeded teams. In every round except the NBA Finals, the best of seven series follows a 2-2-1-1-1 home-court pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 5, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 6. For the final round (NBA Finals), the series follows a 2-3-2 pattern, meaning that one team will have home court in games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while the other plays at home in games 3, 4, and 5. The 2-3-2 pattern in the NBA Finals has been in place since 1985.

The final playoff round, a best-of-seven series between the victors of both conferences, is known as the NBA Finals, and is held annually in June. The victor in the NBA Finals wins the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. Each player and major contributor—including coaches and the general manager—on the winning team receive a championship ring. In addition, the league awards a Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award to the best performing player of the series.

On August 2, 2006, the NBA announced the new playoff format. The new format takes the three division winners and the second-place team with the best record and rank them 1–4 by record. The other 4 slots are filled by best record other than those other 4 teams. Previously, the top three seeds went to the division winners.

International competitions

The National Basketball Association has sporadically participated in international club competitions. From 1987 to 1999 the NBA champions played against the continental champions of the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) in the McDonald's Championship. This tournament was won by the NBA invitee every year it was held. FIBA is organizing a new World Club Championship to begin in 2010, and currently plans to invite the NBA champions starting in 2011.

Notable people

Presidents and commissioners

  • Maurice Podoloff, President from 1946–1963
  • Walter Kennedy, President from 1963–1967 and Commissioner from 1967–1975
  • Larry O'Brien, Commissioner from 1975–1984
  • David Stern, Commissioner since 1984–present


  • List of National Basketball Association players
    • List of foreign NBA players, a list that is exclusively for players who are not from the United States
  • 50 Greatest Players in NBA History


  • List of current National Basketball Association head coaches
  • List of National Basketball Association head coaches
  • List of National Basketball Association player-coaches
  • List of NBA championship head coaches
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History


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