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Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

You know that the NBA is the premier league when it comes to professional basketball. If you’re a big fan of the game, then you might be interested to learn a bit more about the history of the NBA. Keep reading to learn interesting facts about the NBA that you might not have known as a modern fan. The league has a long history and it’s good to take a look back to appreciate how far things have come. 

The Origins of the NBA

Back in 1946, the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America were merged into the NBA. Sixteen teams were involved with the league at that point in time and some of them were from smaller cities. Times weren’t easy during the early days, though. In the first six years, the NBA lost half of its team and was left with only eight teams to play the games. 

The league remained at eight teams up until 1961. The 1961 season saw the addition of the Chicago Packers to the league. This franchise would go on to become the modern-day Washington Wizards. The Chicago Bulls would join the NBA in 1966 and the League started to expand drastically. 

From 1966 to 2004, the league expanded to include 21 teams. Many of the most popular franchises were added to the NBA during this period of time. It also needs to be said that the merger of the ABA and the NBA was a big deal. Another professional basketball league, the American Basketball Association, was merged into the NBA in 1976 and it added new teams, as well as several future Hall of Fame players to the league. 

Increased Popularity

The popularity of the NBA soared in the 1980s and 1990s. Players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, and Shaquille O’Neal captivated audiences and brought new eyes to the sport. The NBA was once in financial turmoil, but the huge surge of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s changed things for the better. Basketball players became very famous and people started to gain an even greater appreciation for basketball around the world. 

In modern times, stars such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephan Curry keep pushing things forward. Basketball is more competitive than ever and worldwide audiences can’t seem to get enough either. NBA games have also become popular in China and new markets seem to be opening. The NBA could become an even more prosperous sports league in the future depending on how things go.