Teams And Players Who Made Pro Basketball History

The pro basketball history in the US can be traced to a game played at the YMCA in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1896. This was the fallout of a dispute between members of the YMCA team and a YMCA official. The angry players formed a professional team and played for money. Two years later a group of New Jersey newspaper sports editors founded the National Basketball League (NBL). The stars of this league were Ed Wachter and Barney Sedran.

The first two successful professional teams of the twentieth century were the Buffalo Germans and the Original Celtics, and the first major national professional league was the American Basketball League. The New York Renaissance, also known as the Rens, and the Harlem Globetrotters were the most successful teams of the 30s. Both incidentally were all-black teams. The top women players of this era were Babe Didrikson, Alline Banks Sprouse, and Nera White.

The late 1940s and early 1950s saw the domination of the Minneapolis Lakers. The Lakers led by George Mikan and coached by John Kundla won five NBA championship titles (1949, 1950, 1952-1954). The star players of the 50s were guard Bob Cousy and forward Bob Pettit. Cousy guided the Boston Celtics to six NBA titles (1957, 1959-1963).

But it was the Celtics who dominated the NBA from 1957 to 1969. During this period, the team won 11 NBA titles including 8 in a row. Bill Russell was the star player of the Celtics. Another dominant center of the time was Wilt Chamberlain of Philadelphia Warriors.

The period 1963 to 1975 belonged to the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA won ten national championships, including seven in a row. Some of the great players of this UCLA team were center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, center Bill Walton, guard Gail Goodrich, forward Jamaal Wilkes, and forward Marques Johnson. Abdul-Jabbar played 20 seasons in the NBA and retired as the league’s leading career scorer, with 38,387 points.

NBA got a rival in 1967 in the form of the American Basketball Association (ABA). The ABA came to be known for its flashy style and for its red, white, and blue basketballs. The best player in the ABA was guard and forward Julius Erving. The ABA broke up in 1976, and most of its teams joined the NBA.

In 1979, Larry Bird of Indiana State University and Magic Johnson of Michigan State University revived NBA fortunes. In the late 1980s the Detroit Pistons emerged as the powerhouse with star players like Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman.

The women’s event underwent major changes in the1960s. In 1966 dribbling became fully legal, and in 1969 the five-player full-court format was introduced. This format became the official format in 1971. In 1985, the Basketball Hall of Fame began inducting woman coaches, players, and contributors. Some of the first players to get this recognition were Ann Meyers, Carol Blazejowski, Cheryl Miller; Anne Donovan and Nancy Lieberman-Cline.

The 1990s belonged to Michael Jordan. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. The other great players of the 1990s were Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Shaquille O’Neal. The women stars of this period were Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Teresa Edwards, Lisa Leslie, and Jennifer Azzi.

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