When most people think of the National Basketball Association they think of the superstars who played the game and have become legendary for their skills and athletic prowess. For some it is Michael Jordan flying through the air with his tongue hanging out. For others it may be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s famous hook shots or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game, but few people think of the history and business that go on behind the game.
Today’s NBA was formed in 1946 in the city of New York as the Basketball Association of America and later changed its name to the National Basketball Association after it merged with the National Basketball League, its main rival in 1949. The National Basketball Association is still headquartered in New York City.
The first official game played by the National Basketball Association was on November 1, 1946 between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers and was played in Toronto, Canada. The original NBA teams were owned by the owners of the major Northeast and Midwest ice hockey arenas, thus teams were concentrated in those areas. After completing the merger with the National Basketball League the Basketball Association of America changed its name to the National Basketball Association and had a total of 17 franchises. Soon after the NBA began to consolidate in the league was at its smallest during the 1953-54 season when the league was reduced to eight franchises. All eight of those franchises are still part of the National Basketball Association, though several franchises have relocated.
In the 1950s the NBA saw the establishment of the first Dynasty as George Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA titles.
The 1960s saw the domination of the Boston Celtics claimed nine championships during the 60s. Led by center Bill Russell and guard Bob Cousy along with legendary coach Red Auerbach the Celtics dominance of a decade has never been repeated.
In the 1970s the league faced competition from the American Basketball Association which was later absorbed into the NBA in 1976. For formerly American Basketball Association franchises were absorbed by the NBA, the league ended the 1970s with a total of 22 franchises. The end of the 1970s however, saw a decline in attendance and TV ratings.
The 1980s saw a huge rise in the popularity of the NBA and the rivalry between Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. Bird and the Celtics went on to win three titles, while Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships.
In the 1990s the NBA saw the rise of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Chicago went on to win six championships in eight years cementing their legacy as Jordan became the face of the modern NBA. The 2000s saw dominance by the Western Conference with both the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs winning multiple championships.
Today the NBA remains one of the most beloved sports in America, franchises are no longer owned by ice hockey arena operators. Today’s NBA franchise owner is typically the leader of a complex organization with many moving parts, in fact many teams are owned by a group of business people instead of a single individual. The Atlanta Hawks for example are owned by the Group of seven businessmen led by Bruce Levenson.
Mr. Levenson is the example of a modern NBA franchise owner. Mr. Levenson became an NBA team owner after achieving a great deal of success in the business world. Mr. Levenson co-founded United Communications Group in his apartment, UCG published a newsletter labeled Oil Express and went on to launch information databases such as the Oil Price Information Service. Today UCG is a business information company that specializes in news analysis of everything from energy to health care, UCG also owns and operates the mobile application GasBuddy.
. Other team owners who come to the NBA from the technology world including Mark Cuban owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Paul Allen owner of the Portland Trail Blazers among the others.