Sport

U.S. professional basketball

The professional game first prospered largely in the Middle Atlantic and New England states. Trenton (New Jersey) and the New York Wanderers were the first great professional clubs.

Buffalo (New York) Germans

Followed by the Buffalo (New York) Germans, who started out in 1895 as 14-year-old members of the Buffalo YMCA and, with occasional new members, continued for 44 years, winning 792 out of 878 games.

A group of basketball stylists who never received the acclaim they deserved (because in their heyday they played for various towns) consisted of Edward and Lew Wachter, Jimmy Williamson, Jack Inglis, and Bill Hardman. They introduced the bounce pass and long pass as offensive weapons and championed the rule (adopted 1923–24) that made each player, when fouled, shoot his own free throw.

Original Celtics

Before World War II the most widely heralded professional team was the Original Celtics, which started out in 1915 as a group of youngsters from New York City, kept adding better players in the early 1920s, and became so invincible that the team disbanded in 1928, only to regroup in the early 1930s as the New York Celtics.

New York Celtics

They finally retired in 1936. The Celtics played every night of the week, twice on Sundays, and largely on the road. During the 1922–23 season they won 204 of 215 games.

The Rens

Another formidable aggregation was the New York Renaissance (The Rens), organized by Robert Douglas in 1923 and regarded as the strongest all-Black team of all time. During the 1925–26 campaign they split a six-game series with the Original Celtics. During the 1932–33 season the Rens won 88 consecutive games. In 1939 they defeated the Harlem Globetrotters and the Oshkosh All Stars in the world championship pro tournament in Chicago. Among the great professional clubs were the teams of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and East Liverpool, Ohio, as well as the New York Nationals, the Paterson (New Jersey) Crescents, and the South Philadelphia Hebrew All Stars — better known as the Sphas .

The first professional league was the National Basketball League (NBL), formed in 1898. Its game differed from the college game in that a chicken-wire cage typically surrounded the court, separating players from often hostile fans. (Basketball players were long referred to as cagers.) The chicken wire was soon replaced with a rope netting, off which the players bounced like prizefighters in a boxing ring. The cage also kept the ball from going out-of-bounds, thus quickening the pace of play. In these early days players were also permitted to resume dribbling after halting. Despite the lively action of the game, the NBL and other early leagues were short-lived, mostly because of the frequent movement of players, who sold their services on a per-game basis. With players performing for several cities or clubs within the same season, the leagues suffered games of unreliable quality and many financially unstable franchises.

Walter Brown

The Great Depression of the 1930s hurt professional basketball, and a new NBL was organized in 1937 in and around the upper Midwest. Professional basketball assumed major league status with the organization of the new Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1946 under the guidance of Walter A. Brown, president of the Boston Garden. Brown contended that professional basketball would succeed only if there were sufficient financial support to nurse the league over the early lean years, if the game emphasized skill instead of brawling, and if all players were restricted to contracts with a reserve rule protecting each team from raiding by another club. Following a costly two-year feud, the BAA and the NBL merged in 1949 to form the National Basketball Association (NBA).

To help equalize the strength of the teams, the NBA established an annual college draft permitting each club to select a college senior in inverse order to the final standings in the previous year’s competition, thus enabling the lower-standing clubs to select the more talented collegians. In addition, the game was altered through three radical rule changes in the 1954–55 season:

1)A team must shoot for a basket within 24 seconds after acquiring possession of the ball. 

2) A bonus free throw is awarded to a player anytime the opposing team commits more than six (later five, now four) personal fouls in a quarter or more than two personal fouls in an overtime period.

 3) Two free throws are granted for any backcourt foul.

After a struggle to survive, including some large financial losses and several short-lived franchises, the NBA took its place as the major professional basketball league in the United States. A rival 11-team American Basketball Association (ABA), with George Mikan as commissioner, was launched in the 1967–68 season, and a bitter feud developed with the NBA for the top collegiate talent each season. In 1976 the ABA disbanded, and four of its teams were taken into the NBA.

The NBA grew increasingly popular through the 1980s. Attendance records were broken in that decade by most of the franchises, a growth pattern stimulated at least in part by the increased coverage by cable television. The NBA has a total of 30 teams organized into Eastern and Western conferences and further divided into six divisions. In the Eastern Conference the Atlantic Division comprises the Boston Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors; the Central Division is made up of the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, and the Milwaukee Bucks; the Southeast Division comprises the Atlanta Hawks, the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic, and the Washington Wizards. In the Western Conference the Southwest Division comprises the Texas-based Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the New Orleans Pelicans; the Northwest Division is made up of the Denver Nuggets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Utah Jazz; the Pacific Division comprises the Phoenix Suns and the California-based Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Sacramento Kings. The play-offs follow the traditional 82-game schedule, involving 16 teams and beginning in late April. Played as a best-of-seven series, the final pairings stretch into late June.

Although basketball is traditionally a winter game, the NBA still fills its arenas and attracts a national television audience in late spring and early summer. As the popularity of the league grew, player salaries rose to an annual average of more than $ 5 million by mid-2000s, and some superstars earned more than $ 20 million yearly. The NBA has a cap that limits (at least theoretically, as loopholes allow many teams to exceed the cap) the total amount a team can spend on salaries in any salary given season.

In 2001 the NBA launched the National Basketball Development League (NBDL). The league served as a kind of “farm system” for the NBA. Through its first 50 years the NBA did not have an official system of player development or a true minor league system for bringing up young and inexperienced players such as exists in major league baseball. College basketball has been the area from which the NBA did the vast majority of its recruiting. By 2000 this had begun to change somewhat, as players began to be drafted straight out of high school with increasing frequency. In 2005 the NBA instituted a rule stipulating that domestic players must be at least age 19 and have been out of high school for one year to be eligible for the draft, which in effect required players to spend at least one year in college or on an international professional team before coming to the NBA.

Reference :

Britannica / Sports / Basketball

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button