Published On: Mon, Jul 20th, 2015

70 Seasons of the NBA: Key Moments in NBA History

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the premiere professional men’s basketball league in the entire world. Founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America, the league adopted the NBA name in 1949 and has grown into a global phenomenon with stars from North America, Europe and Asia. Throughout its 70 seasons, there have been many memorable moments that fans and historians fondly look back on. We take a look at some of these key moments:

Early Dynasties

By the early 1950’s, while the NBA was in its infancy, the Minneapolis Lakers would go on to win 5 out of 6 BBA and NBA championships. They were propelled by the NBA’s “first superstar” in George Mikan. Unfortunately, Mikan would retire after the 1954 season and the Lakers dynasty was over.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell

The Lakers decline opened the door for another franchise to rise to the top. By the late 50’s, the Boston Celtics had loaded their roster with some of the league’s best players. And, the best of all the Celtics was Bill Russell. Once he joined the team in 1957, the Celtics would go on to win 11 NBA championships during Bill’s career. At one point, the Celtics won 8 straight titles from 1959 to 1966. During this amazing run, the Celtics defeated the Lakers five times in the finals and won 9 out of 10 championships in the 60’s.

The Merger

By the late 60’s, the NBA had a new rival – the American Basketball Association (ABA). This league was exciting with their fast pace, slam dunks and colorful characters like “Doctor J”. Additionally, the NBA’s “first superstar” George Mikan became the ABA’s first commissioner.

The ABA declared war against the NBA and started fighting for current players and college stars. The ABA also added the three point shot, which ushered in a whole new era. The innovativeness of the league really put the NBA under serious pressure.

This pressure forced the NBA to do something radical. In 1976, the NBA merged with the ABA and added four of the ABA’s teams: San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and Indiana Pacers. Additionally, the NBA added some of the ABA’s exciting players and rules like the three point shot.

Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden  photo/ Steve Lipofsky,  www.Basketballphoto.com

Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden photo/ Steve Lipofsky, www.Basketballphoto.com

Bird vs. Magic

By the late 70’s, many critics thought the NBA was in serious trouble due to drug issues and other criminal elements, sagging TV ratings and a decline in attendance. However, two rookies would enter the league in 1979 and change the future of the NBA forever.

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the two best players in college basketball. They were household names due to their popularity and facing each other in the NCAA basketball championship. Ironically, the two would get drafted into the NBA’s most historic franchises: the Celtics and the Lakers.

Under the stardom of Bird and Magic, Johnson’s “Showtime” Lakers (5) and Bird’s Celtics (3) would combine to win 8 of the 10 NBA championships in the 1980’s. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson not only led their teams back to prominence, they also took the NBA to new heights in popularity. Some people believe they, along with Michael Jordan, saved the NBA.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan 1997 photo/ Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan 1997 photo/ Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com

Air Jordan

In 1984, Michael Jordan, a young kid from UNC, entered the league and would soon turn the sport upside down. Jordan became a global superstar and one of the league’s first mainstream celebrities. He was a brand name and quickly showed off his athleticism by defying gravity. Jordan was a premiere defender and also had the competitive spirit that would propel his Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA championships from 1991 to 1998. Jordan’s career statistics reign near the top in just about every major category. Most people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest NBA player of all time.

King James

Since Jordan’s retirement in 2003, the basketball world has been waiting for someone to take up the mantle as the “next Jordan.” Kobe Bryant, who has 5 NBA championships, was considered the “next Jordan” for a short period of time until a young kid by the name of LeBron James entered the league in 2003.

James was the most popular high school athlete in the history of modern sports. In fact, ESPN televised some of his high school basketball games. James would go straight from high school to the NBA and become one of the league’s most exciting players. Within a few years, James would become the best player in the league.

Since roughly 2008, James has been constantly compared to Jordan. In his career, James has won two NBA championships and has lost four. He currently has gone to five straight NBA title games: four with the Miami Heat and one with the team that originally drafted him – the Cleveland Cavaliers. James has also been the league MVP four times, an 11 time all-star, two time NBA Finals MVP and is considered the best NBA player in the world. In fact, the current NBA is often referred to as the “King James era.”

Guest Author: Patrick Davis

Lebron James as the "Downton Abbey" loving best friend in "Trainwreck"

Lebron James as the “Downton Abbey” loving best friend in “Trainwreck”

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