The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the men’s professional basketball league across the entire world. Located and played in North America, the NBA is comprised of 30 teams, with 29 of them found in the United States and one in Canada.
Recognized by FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) and a member of USA Basketball (the national governing organization for basketball in the United States), the NBA is considered by many to be one of the most popular sports in all of North America, with its games viewed and influence felt all over the world.
The NBA was initially founded on June 6, 1946, in New York, New York. The newfound league operated as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), but after merging with the National Basketball League (NBL) a few years later, the two leagues came together to form the National Basketball Association, which was officially established on August 3, 1949.
First NBA Game
While the NBA now retroactively views all games that took place in the BAA as part of the NBA’s history, the first official game in the newly-formed NBA took place on October 29, 1949. The game featured the Denver Nuggets, which continues to be one of the NBA’s franchises to this day, against the Tri-Cities Blackhawks. The Blackhawks eventually became the Milwaukee Hawks in 1951, then the St. Louis Hawks in 1955. After 14 years, the franchise again moved locations and became the Atlanta Hawks; that iteration of the franchise also remains in play as of today.
The Blackhawks emerged victorious over the Nuggets in the NBA’s inaugural game, by a score of 93-85. Tri-Cities forward Bob Brown, who — somewhat ironically — never played an NBA game after the first season of NBA play, scored a game-high 16 points in the win.
Interestingly enough, the assistant coach for the Blackhawks was none other than the legendary Arnold Jacob “Red” Auerbach, who would eventually become one of the NBA’s greatest legends as the head coach and player personnel executive of the Boston Celtics; Auerbach won nine NBA Championships as a member of the Celtics organization.
NBA First Season
Denver’s loss in the opening game was a sign of things to come, as they finished with the worst record in the nascent NBA that year. The Blackhawks did qualify for the playoffs in the 17-team league, though they were eliminated in the semifinals.
Instead, it was the Minneapolis Lakers — the team that would eventually become the iconic Los Angeles Lakers — who finished with the second-best record in the NBA that season (51-17), and defeated the Syracuse Nationals — the team that would eventually become the Philadelphia 76ers — for the first-ever NBA championship.
Center George Mikan for Minneapolis, who was eventually inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame and named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, led nearly every statistical category that season, attempting the most field goals and scoring the most points that year. He was also the most dominant defensive player in the NBA.