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Essay: History and popularity of basketball and the NBA

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In modern life, the increasing use of physical exercise is not aimed at achieving high results, but at increasing their health effects on the broad masses of the population. To solve such a global problem, the most effective means are, first of all, sports games. Modern basketball is in the stage of rapid creative growth, aimed at enhancing the action, both in attack and in defense. Basketball is one of the means of physical development and education of young people. The popularity of basketball in the world, and especially in the US, is growing unusually fast. Basketball has become a major sport in America. Basketball is perhaps one of the sports that the date, and place of occurrence of which are known for sure. The basketball sports game was born in the United States of America and now brings unprecedented benefits to the country. The purpose of this study is to analyze the history of basketball and the formation of the largest and best basketball league, National Basketball Association (NBA), in terms of revenue and player performance, respectively. Also, the purpose of the study is to analyze the popularity of basketball in the United States in the modern world and its contribution to the economy.

Keywords: basketball, sports, league, NBA, USA.


The United States of America is a very sporting country. More eloquently, the brilliant performances of American athletes at the Olympic Games, both summer and winter, speak of this, where they are among the first competitors in the number of medals. These victories are not accidental. For most Americans, it is thanks to a sport that the initial idea of life and the world is formed. After all, such vital values of American society as the equality of chances for success, the desire to be first, competition, a healthy lifestyle, are most vividly manifested in sports. Most Americans are actively involved in sports also because they have long understood that staying healthy is much cheaper than repairing it. Constant and strict concern for one’s health has become an integral part of the American way of life; therefore, sports grounds and swimming pools have become part of everyday life. The love of sports, and especially of team types, is instilled from an early age, especially much attention is paid to sports in schools.

Although according to official polls, American football remains the most popular sport in the United States (very similar to rugby, but a little with different rules). Basketball, along with baseball, is one of the four most popular and developed sports. Several reasons can explain the popularity of basketball. An assortment of movements portrays this game: strolling, running, ceasing, turning, bouncing, getting, tossing and spilling, which enhances the digestion, the exercises of all body frameworks, shapes coordination. It is conceivable to play basketball both in the lobby and in the open region, it doesn’t require extraordinarily complex gear, costly shape, that is, it is more available to all portions of the populace. In the USA, in residential areas with individual buildings, especially if children are growing up there, it is common to see a basketball pole with a basket in one’s front yard or in front of the house. In any free minute, the children can practice on it.

Currently, basketball is the fastest growing sport in the world. One of the reasons for this growing popularity is the activities of the US National Basketball Association (NBA), which features the most talented and famous basketball players performing their amazing sporting exploits on the high-class stage. Now it is one of the best basketball leagues in the world.

Literature Review

Basketball History Overview

The homeland of basketball is the United States of America. It was developed at the Training Center for the Christian Youth Association in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 (Domke, 2011). To liven up acrobatic exercises, a youthful educator, a local of Canada, Dr. Naismith thought of another amusement. He connected to the railing of the overhang two organic product containers without a base into which it was large enough to toss a soccer ball (Domke, 2011). About a dozen books have been written about this significant event, often with fictional details telling about the first steps of this future addiction of millions (Domke, 2011).

Nevertheless, it makes sense to at least schematically outlining the main points of the formation and development of basketball, an artificially visual game that has managed to win hearts of fans around the world in a matter of decades, which in itself seems to be an unprecedented phenomenon. Already, as a physical education teacher, a professor at Springfield College, James Naismith faced the challenge of creating a game for the winter of Massachusetts, the period between basketball and football competitions (Domke, 2011). Naismith believed that due to the weather of this time of year, the best solution would be to invent a game for indoor spaces. Naismith wanted to create a mobile game for students of the School of Christian Workers, which would involve not only the use of force alone. He needed a game that could be indoors in a relatively small space (Domke, 2011). Moreover, so, in December 1891, James Naismith presented his unnamed invention to his gymnastics class in Springfield (YMCA) (Domke, 2011). In less than an hour he formulated thirteen rules for the game (HistoryBits, n.d.). Almost the very first matches by these rules caused their first changes. Fans on the balconies caught flying away balls and tried to throw them into the opponent’s basket, so shields appear that became the basket’s defense. As of now in 1893 iron rings show up with a grid. The new amusement was not just energizing and dynamic that in 1894 the main authority rules were distributed in the USA (Honkaplayboys, n.d.). The game from the United States enters first toward the East – Japan, China, the Philippines, and in addition to Europe, South America. After ten years, at the Olympic Games in St. Louis (USA), the Americans sorted out an exhibit visit between groups from a few urban communities. This game was additionally noteworthy at the Olympics in 1924, 1928 (Chen et al. 2011).

In the twentieth centuries, national leagues started to be effectively made, the leading global gatherings were held. In 1919, a basketball competition was caught between the US, Italian, and French armed force groups. In 1923, the leading universal ladies’ competition was held in France (Bottenburg, 2011). Groups from three nations participated in it: England, Italy, USA. The diversion is increasing expanding prominence and acknowledgment on the planet, and in 1932 the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) was made (FIBA, n.d.). In its first arrangement eight nations – Argentina, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania. Sweden, Czechoslovakia (FIBA, n.d.). In 1935, the International Olympic Committee issued a choice perceiving basketball as an Olympic game. In 1936, basketball showed up on the program at the Olympic Game in Berlin (Kupfer, 2015). The key character was D. Naismith, who created this diversion. Groups from 21 nations took an interest in the basketball competition. Matches were held on outdoor tennis courts. Amid this Olympiad, the main FIBA congress occurred, where the current and embraced uniform universal tenets of the game were investigated. In the first half of the 1950s, basketball began to lose its inherent sharpness of struggle (Kupfer, 2015). It was necessary to make some changes and additions to the rules for its activation. The most important of them were then: the rules of 30 seconds were entered (the team owning the ball must, within this time, throw the ball into the basket) the extension of the area in which the attackers were not allowed to stand for more than three seconds. We can say that the basketball rules are refined and supplemented regularly (WNBA, n.d.).

The Appearance of Professional Leagues

The first officially registered association of professional basketball teams, called the National Basketball League (NBL), emerged in 1898 and existed for five years, after which it split into several independent leagues that held their championships (Graso, 2015). The rules of those years allowed teams to enter into contracts with different players for each game, the teams were thus volatile, and any player for one championship could, if they wanted, perform almost for all teams, selling their services for each month to those who will pay more. The cost of individual contracts was approximately one dollar per minute of the game, which made it possible for the best players who spent more time on the court to earn impressive amounts of money at that time without paying attention to bruises, and abrasions. Basketball at the turn of the twentieth century was more than a contact sport, in which the tremors, grips, and hooks of rivals were not forbidden (Graso, 2015).

Following the example of the National Basketball League, which for the first time united professional clubs in one tournament in 1898, in 1925 the American Basketball League (ABL) was established, which embraced the teams of the north-eastern United States. The first seasons were dominated by an outstanding New York club “optical Celtics,” which was superior to all its competitors, and only “Rosenblum” from Cleveland could compete to some degree (Riess, 2015).

In January 1927, Abe Saperstein organized a team of basketball circus performers called “Harlem Globetrotters”, which consisted entirely of black athletes, who, having replaced several generations of orange masters in its history, have won millions of admirers in their history for their history all corners of the globe. Combining unique circus performances with brilliant technical skills in their performances, the “Harlem Globetrotters” so quickly and naturally handle the ball that they force the viewer to be a different kind of sport, as real art (Todayinhistory, 2018).

Formation of the NBA

The year 1936 was marked by a new milestone in the history of basketball – it appeared in the program of the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, but only the following year two significant events occurred that dramatically brought basketball of the first half of the twentieth century to the game so well known to us today (Kupfer, 2015). The first event occurs in a January match of two student teams. The Stanford University player Hank Luisetti for the first time in basketball history made a ball toss around the ring with one hand. This is a revolutionary moment at the time when every basketball player shoot the ball with two hands(Sfchronicle, n.d.). An example of a student, by the way, didn’t show himself more than in basketball, was instantly picked up by literally each of his colleagues in the sports hall, as a result, by the end of the season the game had acquired an entirely different quality pattern.

The second significant event for basketball progress happened in the spring of 1937 when it was canceled throwing the ball in the center circle after each team scores the ring (Basketfer, n.d.). Up to this point, the team, which had a tall player, had an indisputable advantage over the opponents: at the beginning of the match, the ball was introduced into the game by throwing in the center of the court, which of course, the taller basketball player always has the possession. That player could threw the ball to his teammates, ran to the opponents’ shield, where that player received a return pass and put the ball in the ring without interference, after which the tall player ran to the center circle to get hold of the ball in the next throw-in (Basketfer, n.d.). Now, as the new rule applied, after taking the ring, the ball went to the opposite team, which brought it into play from behind the front line, thus obtaining a chance to hit the rivals’ ring. Thanks to this innovation, the game has become faster and, accordingly, spectacular, its outcome now depended not primarily on the players’ growth, but on their accuracy, the speed of running, the speed of moving the ball and, of course, on the successful tactical finds of the coaches (Basketfer, n.d.). The surprising fact is that the National Basketball League, recreated in 1937 and uniting 13 professional teams of the East and Midwest USA, did not immediately perceive the positive nature of the rule changes (AmericanHistory, 2017).

Aware of their progressiveness, but finding themselves unable to overcome the conservatism of thinking, League officials came to a decision – the entire first season of the home team had the right to decide what rules each meeting should take place, namely how to enter the ball into the game after taking the ring. However, by the end of the next season, common sense triumphed, and the National Basketball League fully accepted the rules of student basketball, which immediately raised its rating in the eyes of the public and made it possible to invite university athletes to the professional teams (Conrad, 2017).

Since 1938, a sharp rise in the popularity of basketball began, and nothing seemed. It did not promise trouble, but the realization of bright hopes and excellent prospects had to be postponed for another five years due to the entry of the United States into the Second World War. The draw of the World Championships held by the National Basketball League continued during the war, but athletes who were not fit for military service and the limited number of far from the most critical teams could not, of course, attract the increased attention of the fans (Stark, 2016). Only in 1946, when former professional basketball players began to return from the fronts, did the League try again to resume its full-fledged existence. However, it had an unexpected competitor in the face of the just-formed Basketball Association of America (BAA). With critical financial assets, the BAA brought together teams from New York, Washington, Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and St. Louis (Stark, 2016).

The first match in the Basketball Association of America later renamed the National Basketball Association, took place in November 1946, officially marking this date in the annals of history as the birth of one of the largest sports and commercial enterprises of our time – the NBA (Stark, 2016). The historic meeting in Toronto between basketball players, “New York Nickerboxers” and “Toronto Huskies,” ended with a score of 68:66 in favor of the guests (NBA, n.d.). The basketball association of America, which gained momentum, successfully lured not only individual players, but also the entire clubs of the National Basketball League, for several more seasons, which continued to resist the expansion of their younger, but much more powerful sister. The inevitable happened in 1949 when the National Basketball League (which ceased to exist after that) left the six best teams that joined the Basketball Association of America. From that moment on, it became known as the National Basketball Association (Slusher, 2016).

Basketball Popularity

Basketball is widespread in the United States. In some states, “around each residential building, one can see a basketball basket either on a special tripod, or above the garage gate, or on a telegraph pole.” The American sports calendar is relatively simple: the American football championship (a kind of rugby) lasts for four months, four months for baseball and four months for basketball. However, it should be noted that the official US Basketball Championship among amateurs is not held, but from December to March championships of various basketball associations are played.

In the U.S., basketball teams are divided into professional and amateur. Professionals play the championship in two groups (Noll, 2003). One includes teams from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Syracuse, and the other includes teams from Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, Rochester, and St. Louis (Noll, 2003).

Among fans, student sports leagues have the highest weight. One of them – the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) – includes basketball players from 465 higher and secondary educational institutions (NCAA, 2018). Another association – NAIA (n.d.) – unites teams of small educational institutions, the so-called “college resins.” Also, the AAU includes the National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL), which unites basketball players of trade unions (APBR, n.d.). The teams that are considered trade union, as a rule, are funded by large monopolies, is for them a kind of means of “publicity” (advertising). So, the famous team “Philipps-66” contains the campaign “General Electric.” Basketball players “Goodyear Winglets” finances concern for the production of tires. Many basketball teams are concentrated in the units of the US armed forces and military schools. Usually, by the end of the season, the most active teams of all these associations are found in the famous “National Invitation Tournament,” which is held in New York or Chicago (NCAA, 2018).

American children start playing basketball very early – from 8-10 years. In the US, “ten-year-olds already know all the secrets of basketball.” Teens try to reproduce precisely the movements of adults – throwing a hook, holding the opponent, barriers, alternating methods of protection. Basketball in the USA is a sporting spectacle that attracts many spectators. At the height of the season, basketball games are broadcast daily on television. The spectators prefer the games of the university teams, which are saturated with genuine sporting excitement, to the competitions of professionals, which, for all the virtuosity of the participants, still resemble a pre-rehearsed play (Kellner, 2003).

NBA and the Popularity of Basketball

The NBA is one of the most popular basketball leagues in the world. Only the most talented and bright players become players of the league teams. During the season, the NBA teams fight for getting into the playoffs, and then the champion is determined (Jozsa, 2011).

In the history of the league, there was a time when the NBA teams could not defeat the Celtics club from Boston. The dominance continued from 1958 to 1969 (Jozsa, 2011). During this era, the team from Boston won 11 championships. The famous trainer Red Auerbach made a significant contribution to such a historic success of the club. This specialist was able to find young talents and turn them into basketball stars (Jozsa, 2011). Over time, viewers could see the famous confrontation between the teams “Celtics” and “Lakers.” There was a time when the struggle for the championship of these clubs supported the interest of fans in the NBA. From 1980 to 1989, one of the two teams participated in the playoff finals (Jozsa, 2011). In 1984, the best NBA teams of the time finally met against each other in the final. This event has caused considerable interest in the league. No one remained indifferent to such a historical event. In a bitter struggle in the seven matches, the Celtics won (Jozsa, 2011). However, the following year, the Lakers team took revenge.

Nowadays, the NBA teams are equal in strength. All of them can potentially win the playoff slot. Thanks to this, the league has a high rating. Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks have the most extended losing streaks. These teams did not become champions over 50 years since the foundation of the league (Jozsa, 2011).

The NBA would not be able to maintain such high popularity if there were not the annual draft of the newcomers (NBA, 2018). Each team of the league has the opportunity to get young talented players. The new players are selected from colleges or members who have already competed in other professional leagues then become members of the teams. Occasionally, there have been cases when basketball clubs were strengthened by players who were still in school. Clubs that did not participate in the playoff from last season will receive the right to choose the first 14 places. Since 1985, the leadership of the NBA has decided to hold a lottery to determine the order of choice of the player. Thus, the weakest team of the league in the future would have a larger chance to pick the rising star of basketball (NBA, 2018). The tournament of the summer league, which is also very popular with basketball fans, is held in the same time period.

For outstanding achievements in the field of basketball, players, coaches, referees, teams and other personalities are brought into the basketball hall of fame. It is also one of the greatest reasons of popularity of basketball in the USA. It was opened in 1959 in the birthplace of this sport at Springfield College (Blevins, 2012). Then this location was changed several times. At the moment, 303 people have been added to the museum of fame. In history, there are cases when achievements of athletes have twice entered the museum. First as players, and then as coaches. Of course, Michael Jordan is brought to the museum of fame. The basketball player who made the Chicago Bulls club the most successful in the league in the 1990s. He won the championship six times and received the prize of “Most Valuable Player” many times.

The National Basketball Association has made basketball one of the most popular sports in the world. Leading basketball players have big contracts, as well as multi-million fees for advertising. Due to the enormous popularity of basketball in the United States and beyond, many young people choose this particular sport. Michael Jeffrey Jordan and Yao Ming are idols to follow, especially since Yao Ming plays in the Houston Rockets team. After all, the United States is the birthplace of modern basketball. In 2017, the NBA is also very cheerful in terms of the attention of the audience. The first match of the playoff series between Rocket and Thunder was watched by 5.16 million people (NBA, 2018). The first match between the Bulls and the Celtics is 5.14 million. The NBA playoffs are also very active on weekdays. Last week, the Bulls / Celtics and Jazz / Clippers matches were watched by an average of 3.2 million people. Ratings of all series increased by rating and number of viewers compared to last year (NBA, 2018).

Basketball Economics

For more than thirty years, the philosophy of the National Basketball Association is that the teams should be approximately equal in strength and capabilities. Only, in this case, the tournament will be competitive, and the games will cause real interest of the public. It is the goal and the result of a sensible policy that has been developed for decades – through the years of the hegemony of the wealthiest clubs, through the arrival of television as the most important source of income for the association. Moreover, the love of sport here perfectly harmonizes with a highly profitable business. At present, the basketball industry is entering a new level of development and is becoming a full-fledged sector of the economy. It is evidenced by the significant amounts of investment in the development of sports clubs and related infrastructure, although they are distributed very unevenly.

Moreover, Celebrity Endorsements can be an extremely rewarding choice for games sellers to pick. It can result in long haul achievement and can create billions of dollars in benefit, which obviously is reflected in American monetary movement, in this manner additionally ascribing to the way that the games majorly affects America’s yearly GDP (Johnson, 2017).

The NBA was also successful regarding sponsorship contracts. The Nike Sports Company intercepted the contract for equipping NBA teams from the 2017/2018 season from Adidas. The agreement for eight years will bring the association for more than $ 1 billion annually. The Tissot brand became the first official timekeeper of the NBA, signing a six-year contract for $ 200 million (Benjamin, 2015), and the telecommunications company Verizon changed Sprint, signing a three-year agreement for $ 400 million. Now, thanks to this alliance of content and marketing, all NBA videos are available on the Verizon mobile video service (Sportsmedia, n.d.). Although the position of the NBA in America is strong, many sources of growth lie abroad. More than 100 foreign players from 37 countries play in the NBA. NBA games are shown in 215 countries of the world; the league is continually looking for ways to monetize its popularity outside the US and it such a way to increase the country’s GDP (NBA, n.d.).

Today, 30 teams play in the NBA (29 from the USA and one from Canada). Among them, there are various clubs regarding profitability, but the leadership of the association tries to minimize this difference as much as possible (Kaser, 2015). The main tools for equalizing opportunities are the salary ceiling introduced in 1984 and the luxury tax, the draft system for beginners, and the even distribution of all association incomes between clubs.

Analyzing the popularity of basketball in the US, the game plays a significant role in the United States. Due to this popularity, new jobs are being created. Moreover, this applies not only to the players and coaches themselves but also to other players acting as mediators of the game. For example, it is the creation of companies that broadcast games that sell tickets to the game, such as promoters, stylists, volunteers, and more. It is also important to consider the infrastructure component. For example, it may be builders involved in the construction of stadiums. It may be contractors. It even has cleaning companies, because after the matches it is necessary to clean the field thoroughly. It is even the cheerleaders who have a job speaking on the matches. Thus, basketball creates many jobs and this lead to an increase in the country’s GDP. Also, basketball stars are important for the basketball industry. They are like pop icons for most fans. It is through them that most people with such a desire go to the matches to see how their idol looks.


Thus, America is a very sporting country. For most Americans, it is thanks to the sport that the initial idea of life and the world is formed. After all, such vital values of American society as the equality of chances for success, success, the desire to be first, competition, a healthy lifestyle. Are most clearly manifested in sports. Americans are convinced that sport helps to cultivate faith in their strength and capabilities, as well as the ability to use them. Most Americans are actively involved in sports also because they have long understood that staying healthy is much cheaper than repairing it. Constant and strict concern for one’s health has become an integral part of the American way of life; therefore, sports grounds and swimming pools have become part of everyday life. The love of sports, and especially of team types, is instilled from an early age, especially much attention is paid to sports in schools. Especially such a sport is basketball, which has its history.

Describing the American model of NBA baseball clubs, it is necessary to emphasize their desire for maximum income, while the results are considered as a means of achieving profit. If the future of the NBA is more dependent on the state of the domestic market, social values, changes taking place in the country, then the future of European and Russian basketball clubs largely depends, along with other factors, on the influence of the National Basketball Association. The stable position of NBA clubs is based on the high demand for its product – a spectacle. One of the main objectives of the league is to balance the strength of rivals since the appearance of a super-club means a decrease in entertainment, intrigue, and attendance at matches, which is fundamentally different from the model of European basketball clubs.


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