The origin and birth of the NBA ~ the basketball guru


After the end of World War II, basketball, as a major and highly successful sport in the United States, was organized in a single league achieving the confluence of the best leagues in the country, forming and originating the birth of the NBA as and As we know it today.

What do you think of this explanation of how the NBA originated? Sounds pretty good for a league of the current NBA level, but it is totally false since the pristine nature of the North American competition was absolutely different.

To begin, it must be said that basketball as such was a sport with little roots and hobby for the general public in the United States.

In the mid-20th century, the highest level of sports were Baseball, Ice Hockey or American Football. Professional sports basically had its axis in these three great mass sports.

Basketball was practiced and there were professional leagues but it was a minor sport that failed to engage fans.

At that time, basketball as a game was also very different from what we know today since many of the rules that Professor James Naismith originally established had not yet been modified.

It was still played without such basic rules for the development of the game as the possession clock or the illegal cap. He lacked elements that made him faster and more dynamic so that the fan wanted to see a sport that still had nothing to show.

This had the direct effect that basketball did not grow in follow-up and hobby against other sports and as a result, the leagues existing at the time lacked social importance and relevance.

The birth of the NBA was impossible if people were not going to watch basketball since it did not raise public interest.

We must not forget that professionalism necessarily implied a commercial and lucrative activity beyond sports.

No businessman was going to promote a sport without fans and that would not bring economic benefits. At the end of the day, any professional league, is essentially a business.

Precisely this fact of sport as a business activity gave basketball a chance that it did not miss.

The reality of the birth of the NBA came from the need for a series of entrepreneurs to fill their stadiums of great capacity at a time when their main activity (Ice Hockey) did not work, that is, a regular activity was needed to allow fill those big spaces outside the period of the Ice Hockey League (NHL) matches.

Those big businessmen like Walter A. Brown (Founder of the Boston Celtics and Manager of the Boston Garden), Pat Tyrrell (owner of the Philadelphia / Golden state Warriors) or Ned Irish (Founder of the New York Knicks and Manager of Madison Square Garden) Driven by the initiative of the important journalist Max Kase saw in basketball the opportunity they were looking for.

Max kase
Max kase

As an example of this link between basketball and Ice Hockey, the first President (denomination before the current Commissioner) of the BAA was Maurice Podoloff, who was also at that time the President of the American Hockey League (AHL), germ of the subsequent NHL.

At that time there were two major leagues in North American Basketball, the American Basketball League (ABL) and the National Basketball League (NBL).

The first was the league with the greatest tradition since it had been founded in 1925 and the second was the one with the best teams and players but it was developed in smaller stages and cities.

With this background on June 6, 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded with a total of 11 teams.

The first 11 teams that were part of the origin of the NBA were:

Chicago Stags
Washington Capitols
Providence Steamrollers
Cleveland Rebels
Philadelphia Warriors
St. Louis Bombers
Toronto Huskies
New York Knicks
Detroit Falcons
Pittsburgh Ironmen
Boston Celtics

The BAA was born as the "Great Basketball League of the United States" against the ABL and the NBL that were in a minor league role.

With the economic and social power of the BAA side, the next step was also to have sports talent in its possession.

For this reason in the following seasons some of the initial teams of the foundation of the BAA disappeared and others of the ABL (Baltimore Bullets) and the NBL (Minneapolis Lakers – Current Los Angeles Lakers-, Rochester Royals -Sacramento Kings) current-, Syracuse Nationals -76ers current- Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons -Detroit current pistons- and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks -Atlanta Hawks current).

NBA Owners
(From left to right. Top row: Walter Brown, Boston Celtics; Max Winter, Minneapolis Lakers; Eddie Gottlieb, Philadelphia Warriors; Ned Irish, New York Knicks; Cliff Courtney, Indianapolis Olympians: From left to right Bottom row: Leo Ferris, Syracuse Nationals; Ben Kerner, Milwaukee Hawks; Maurice Podoloff, President of the NBA; Les Harrison, Rochester Royals).

Only the strongest teams at both the sports and economic levels survived the merger and initial expansion of the league.

On August 3, 1949 the league definitely changed its name and was renamed the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the following list of 17 teams already very recognizable for today's NBA fans:

Minneapolis Lakers
Rochester Royals
Anderson Packers
Indianapolis Olympians
New York Knicks
Syracuse Nationals
Boston Celtics
Fort Wayne Pistons
Chicago Stags
Tri-Cities Blackhawks
Washington Capitols
Sheboygan Red Skins
St. Louis Bombers
Philadelphia Warriors
Baltimore Bullets
Waterloo Hawks
Denver Nuggets

Many of these first NBA teams disappeared quickly since the birth of the NBA as such in 1949 led to the extinction of the NBL.

The NBA welcomed all the teams that reached the last season of the NBL but after a brief step through the NBA they were doomed to disappear as in the case of the Anderson Packers, the St. Louis Bombers or the Denver Nuggets (not they have to do with the current franchise from ABA).

The growth of the NBA also led to the extinction of the ABL in 1955 although it had already stopped working since 1953.

The birth of the NBA had an economic origin derived from the need of some great businessmen, basically of Ice Hockey, to fill and make profitable great sport spaces with an alternative sport.

That same economic-commercial origin was the reason why the NBA imposed itself against other initial leagues (ABL and NBL) and later (ABA) and has continued to grow and globalize to this day.

Basketball is a sport and the NBA is much more than a sport.

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