The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most prolific league for the sport in all of North America. Thirty teams play in NBA tournaments. Twenty-nine of these are from America, and one hails from Canada. The NBA is one of 4 major American sports leagues. It has been around for more than 70 years. It is important to know the origins of this league in order to appreciate just how far the NBA has come over the course of these decades.
There had been earlier attempts to create a pro basketball league. This included the NBL and ABL. However, in 1946, the Basketball Association of America was established and rose to prominence. This was due to the fact that the league emphasised playing games in major city venues such as arenas. The BAA was created by American and Canadian ice hockey arena owners. They attempted to host high profile basketball games. However, it took several years for the quality of play to match other similar leagues.
In 1949 the teams from the NBL and BAA merged together. As a consequence, the name of the new league was changed to the National Basketball Association (NBA). The governing body of the BAA oversaw the league and organised its games. The current BAA does not recognise the statistics and records of the NBL as its own. However, it does for the history of the BAA.
By 1950 the NBA had expanded to include 11 different franchises. Some of the earliest teams included the New York Knicks, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Minneapolis Lakers and Boston Celtics. Many of the early teams continue to exist. The first non-white NBA player was the Japanese-American Wataru Misaka. He emerged in 1947 as part of the New York Knicks team. In 1950, Washington Capital’s member Harold Hunter became the first African-American player.