The NBA has from its inception been a center for sporting excellence and despite a slow start has risen to be one of the most popular sports in the world
The NBA, as well as having perhaps the most instantly recognizable logo in sports, is the premier basketball league in the world with players from across the globe traveling to play in this razzmatazz laden sports tournament, not only because they get to play with the best of the best, but also because by average salary they’re the highest paid sportsmen in the world. It is also one of the most heavily wagered upon sports the planet has to offer.
The NBA was spawned by ice hockey arena owners who wanted a revenue stream beyond the skate wearing bruisers of the NHL. They had the venues, they just needed the sport, and although the start in 1946 was anything but awe inspiring the big city locations helped their Basketball Association of America become established. This at first rivaled and then absorbed the National Basketball League and in deference changed its name to the one we now know.
However back in the 50s the size of this now multi-billion dollar entity was still relatively small with only eight franchises in ’53-’54 and whilst this still provided much entertainment for fans of the game there was obviously room for expansion. This was surprisingly slow in coming which perhaps explains the arrival of the competing ABA (American Basketball Association) that kicked off a bidding war for the best players and provided the onus required to get that expansion.
In the 1970s the race to grab the viable cities available for the league saw the NBA grow to include 18 franchises across the US, and the eventual agreement between the NBA and ABA saw the latter absorbed giving us a 22 team league and the three-point field goal rule that made the 1979 season perhaps the best they had yet seen. But with falling tv audiences and some minor drug scandals amongst the players was the NBA on the way out?
Magic And Bird Bring It On
The National Basketball Asso
• Personality cults and over/under betting
• American gambling laws beat the spread
• Flopping fines for fake foul falling
The 1980s are often derided for various reasons. The big hair… the shoulder pads… those stupid “Frankie Says” t-shirts, but whilst the rest of the world was looking bedraggled the NBA was anything but. With new stars like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird taking to the court the rise of the personality within the NBA now took to the fore. Even if you knew nothing of basketball or didn’t read the gambling news, you knew who these people were.
Their first final against each other in 1984 is perhaps the first culmination of the almost cult like following these players engendered. Coincidentally this was the first year a young man called Michael Jordan entered the league and the rest, as they say, is history. The massive increase in public interest gave rise to yet another round of expansion as cities demanded their own teams. By the time the 90s rolled around there were 27 cities with NBA franchises.
Since then there have been a couple of Canadian teams added to the league (although one of these relocated to Memphis a few years after joining) and the NBA brand has become a world wide phenomena. The 1992 Olympic Dream Team brought the world’s spotlight onto the sport like never before and the personalities on and off the court did as much for the sport in those few brief weeks than had been seen hitherto.
In this, the oft termed “modern era”, players from all over the globe play in the NBA and the All Star Game saw 108,713 people squeezed into Cowboys Stadium to see it. This popularity doesn’t just limit itself to the game with the off-court drama and player signing processes being just as closely followed by a public who can’t get enough of these high class athletes and the showmanship that goes along with their sport.
Betting On The NBA
For those that like to bet on sports in the US basketball has long since been a firm favorite with perhaps $50 million being wagered on an average game in December, although of course that can only ever be an estimate with so many off-shore sportsbooks like Bet365 now offering the opportunity for people across the world to wager on their favorite NBA stars, and it’s not just on winning and losing that these punters can put their cash.
The range of bets available is a testament to the understanding that gamblers want choice. Betting on Over/Under propositions (such-and-such a player will score more or less than a certain number of points) are popular for big matches but most of the time people are betting on the point spread between the teams. This is a handicap system that allows sportsbooks to even the amounts of money wagered on a game between the possible outcomes.
American gambling laws have been liberalized over the last few years with states now able to offer mobile casino licenses (although few have yet to do so) and the rise in the backing of both NBA and college basketball teams is likely to continue. March Madness particularly now attracts a special atmosphere and a betting frenzy that rivals the furore that surrounds the NBA finals or the Superbowl.
The NBA is still innovating with games now played outdoors, and in Europe, fines have been introduced for flopping (theatrical diving) and teams have shuffled names along the way, but the league overall has had the strength and popularity to overcome the trials and tribulations that have at times beset it. It has a bright future based on a glittering past and if you’ve not bet on the NBA at least once you’re missing out on one of the most thrilling ways to wager.