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One of the four pro sports leagues in the US and Canada, the National Basketball Association or simply NBA is the world’s premier pro basketball league. Basketball players of all ages - from all corners of the globe - aspire to one day play in the NBA. After all, NBA players are among the best paid athletes in the world, based on the average yearly salary per player. The NBA currently has 30 teams (29 based in the US, and 1 in Canada). It is sanctioned by USA Basketball (USAB), the FIBA-recognized national governing body in the United States for the sport of basketball. The league was established on June 6, 1946 in New York City. It was originally named the Basketball Association of America (BAA). Its current name was adopted only on August 3, 1949, when the BAA merged with its rival league, the National Basketball League (NBL). The NBA’s head office is located at the Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Ave, New York City. It directs the various team’s individual offices, as well as the league’s international offices. The offices of NBA Entertainment, as well as the NBA TV studios are situated in Secaucus, New Jersey. THE NBA BEFORE AND TODAY In 1946, the league started with a total of 11 teams. It continually evolved through the years and experienced a series of team expansions, relocations, and reductions. It currently has 30 teams. As previously mentioned, 29 of the 30 teams are from the US, and 1 team is based in Canada. Currently, the 30 teams are divided in 2 conferences, with each conference comprised of 3 divisions of 5 teams each. This divisional alignment has been followed since the 2004-2005 season.
The Current NBA Teams Eastern Conference: Atlantic Division - New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors Central Division - Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division - Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Wizards
Western Conference: Southwest Division - Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division - Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz Pacific Division - Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns
Top NBA Rivalries
Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers
When we talk of sports rivalries, few may equal that of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Their rivalry, often called the greatest of all time, dates back to the 1960s. The rivalry took shape after the Celtics took home the bacon in their 1959 NBA Finals matchup with a 4-0 series win against the Lakers. The two giant franchises followed that up with eleven other championship matchups. The Green currently holds a 9-2 Finals advantage over the Purple and Gold.
The team rivalry also spawned probably the two of the greatest personal rivalries in the history of the league. First, there’s Bill Russell and Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, two of the best big men ever to play the game. Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird were bitter rivals on the court but close friends off it.
The tradition carried on with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce. Both teams have been in a rut for quite a while now and only time will tell if the current crop of Lakers featuring youngsters D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle can rekindle the rivalry with the C’s led by Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Jaylen Brown.
Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers
Most rivalries are the result of teams trying to outplay each other, but the Piston-Pacer rivalry stemmed from too many dirty plays. The 2004 Eastern Conference Finals series between the two teams was characterized by its roughness. In the end, the Pistons upset the highly-favored Pacers in a game filled with dirty plays and hard fouls. The game was still fresh in their minds as the two teams faced off in a regular season game on November 19, 2004. With the game in the hands of the Pistons, Metta World Peace, then known as Ron Artest, committed an unnecessary foul on Ben Wallace. Big Ben did not appreciate the shove and the two had to be separated. The encounter took a life of its own as it poured into the stands, literally and figuratively. The aftermath of one of the worst sports brawls ever included suspensions, penalties and a wet Artest.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors
The best rivalry in recent memory is between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, two teams lead by a couple of former MVPs. In the just concluded 2015-16 season, LeBron James led the Cavs to the Larry O’Brien trophy at the expense of Stephen Curry’s Warriors. It was a bitter loss for Dub City as they led 3-1 before King James took over and helped the Cavs to their first ever title. It was a different story a year ago. Chef Curry’s MVP season guided the Warriors to the title against James and the Cavs. It seems the rivalry between the two best teams in their respective conferences will continue as the Warriors stacked up with Kevin Durant while the Cavs secured their future by inking James to another contract.