Professional basketball leagues have come a long way since the creation of the game in 1891. The National Basketball League (NBL) was the first and was established by General Electric, Firestone, and Goodyear in 1937. It comprised thirteen teams that either represented the founding corporations or small towns in the Great Lakes area. The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was established in 1946, merged with the NBL in 1949, and was renamed the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Since the NBA was not officially so until 1949, the only teams that can be considered the firsts are the Boston Celtics, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (presently in Atlanta), the Fort Wayne Pistons (presently in Detroit), the Philadelphia Warriors (presently Golden State in Oakland), the Minneapolis Lakers (presently in Los Angeles), the New York Knickerbockers, the Syracuse Nationals (presently the Philadelphia 76ers), and the Rochester Royals (presently the Sacramento Kings).
In 1967, the American Basketball Association (ABA) competed against the NBA, but the larger organization eventually overwhelmed the smaller one in 1976. Only four of the ABA teams were absorbed into the NBA: the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Nets, the Indiana Pacers, and the Denver Nuggets.
The 1960s and 70s was the time of the greatest expansion for the association. The Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, the Indiana Pacers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns, the Portland Trailblazers, the Seattle Supersonics, the Utah Jazz, and the Washington Wizards became franchises. During the 1980s and 90s the NBA forms its present-day shape. The added franchises were the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Orlando Magic.
The NBA expanded into Canada and incorporated the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995. The Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, leaving the Raptors as the only Canadian representative. Several franchises have moved to different cities, but only the Boston Celtics and the New York Knickerbockers have never left their city of origin or changed their original mascots.
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