Basketball is a truly American sport. The sport started out in humble fashion - with a ball shot at a peach basket suspended ten feet in the air. It has grown to the point where whether in an urban or rural setting, you won’t need to travel far to find kids shooting hoops on their local court. At the heart of the game’s popularity is its accessibility, simplicity and speed.
The game was invented in 1891 by Dr James Naismith, a physical education professor, as a way of keeping his gym class active on rainy days in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the major American professional sports leagues and has boasted all the sport's most famous names in Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and many more. Basketball is the second most popular sport in the USA, after American Football, according to the 2014 Harris Poll, which asks people across the country their favourite sport.
29 of the league's 30 teams are based in the USA and they can be found all over the country in major cities-making it easy to catch a game while you're in town. The league's high-scoring excitement runs from October through until June, with each team playing 82 games in the regular season before the play-offs, which begin in late April, where there are two conferences - East and West - with eight teams in each. The winner of each conference face off in the final, with a new NBA champion is crowned.
The rules of the game are simple: it's five-on-five, there are four 12-minute quarters (though the game tends to last 2 hours) and a team must attempt a shot at the hoop within 24 seconds of gaining possession (called a 24-second shot clock). Field goals, or baskets, are worth two points apiece, or three if shot from beyond the arc on the court, and free throws (unopposed shots as a result of a foul) are worth a single point.
The league's most storied franchises are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, having won more than 30 Championships between them and making up one of sport's great rivalries. Alongside the Lakers, California is home to three other NBA teams - LA Clippers, Sacramento Heat and Golden State Warriors in Oakland. Florida is one of the game's great modern hubs, home to Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, while the Midwest is also a great place to catch a game, whether that's Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers or Detroit Pistons. The three largest cities in Texas also boast teams: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks and up in New York you can catch the Knicks (who play at iconic Madison Square Garden) or Brooklyn Nets. For the best of the best, the NBA's All-Star game, which takes place every February, pits the finest players in the east against those of the West in celebration of the game's top talent.
Fan experience is a big part of the NBA so don’t be afraid be afraid to cheer for your new favourite team!
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