It’s always amazing when you click on an NBA link on social media and the game that comes up is from the 1960s. The graphics are just pixelated, there’s no volume control on the radio and the commentary is in black and white. Yet, old NBA games still hold up really well considering where technology is now.
The NBA was once known as the “National Basketball Association” and was founded in 1948. The first official NBA game was played on May 14, 1949 and featured the New York Knicks and the Minneapolis Lakers. Since then, the league has expanded to include 30 teams located in the United States and Canada.
Each year, the NBA All-Star Weekend brings together the best of the best from the NBA and various other leagues. For example, this year’s all-star game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 17 and will air live on TNT. Last but not least, the NBA is currently the second-largest sport league in the United States, only behind the NFL.
5. Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson, born in 1932, is considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. Known for his ball handling, long-range shooting and defense, Robertson averaged a triple double throughout his career: 31.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game. He’s currently ranked fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (28,958 points) and 22nd on its all-time assists list (9,815).
In 1961, Robertson became the first player to win the NBA MVP award, which is given to the player who is deemed to be the best in the league that year. He was also the first overall pick in the NBA draft that same year.
4. Bill Russell
While Robertson put up phenomenal numbers, Bill Russell was, arguably, even greater. One of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, Russell was known for his stardom, both on and off the court. He was recognized as the MVP of the 1956 NBA All-Star Game and led the Boston Celtics to ten NBA championship titles, winning seven of them.
Russell, who died in 2011, amassed an incredible lifetime average of 28.3 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. To this day, he’s still the leader all-time in points scored, rebounds and blocks in NBA history.
The first half of the 20th century was an interesting time for basketball. It wasn’t until the middle of that century that the American public started to take the game seriously. However, during that time, there were some phenomenal players that helped popularize the “one-and-done” rule, which limited players to one season in the NBA. That rule was eventually changed in 1986.
3. Wilt Chamberlain
It’s tough to talk about the top three players of the 20th century without mentioning Chamberlain. A 7-foot-1 center who played for the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1960s and 1970s, Chamberlain became the first player to reach 100 points in a single game when he scored 105 points against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1962. That game was later deemed “the greatest sports moments of all time” by ESPN. In addition to scoring 100 points, Chamberlain broke 11 different NBA records, including most points in a playoff game (56) and most points in a playoff season (1,807).
Even 100 years after his death, people are still finding records that Chamberlain broke. On April 5, 2019, it was announced that he had broken yet another NBA record: the 90-year-old Chamberlain became the oldest player to ever score an NBA game, notching 26 points for the Golden State Warriors in a 127-120 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
2. LeBron James
It’s no secret that James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. In fact, the four-time NBA MVP is often referred to as the “King” due to his status as a global superstar. In 2019, James spent his 21st birthday in the top five of the all-time scoring list, passing Michael Jordan for number four on the list. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2020, James recorded his 29th career triple double, making him just the sixth player in NBA history to achieve that feat. Not only is James one of the all-time greats, but he’s also one of the most popular athletes in the world.
1. Michael Jordan
It’s hard to talk about the greatest NBA players of all time without mentioning Michael Jordan. The six-time NBA MVP is still considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, thanks in large part to his six championship rings and his six-season run of excellence from 1995 to 2001. Jordan averaged 27.3 points, 5.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game during his prime. He scored 1,940 points in the 1995-96 season alone and remains the all-time leader in points scored in a season (1,954 in 1996-97). The two-time Olympic gold medallist also remains one of the most popular basketball players of all time. In 2019, Nike released a special edition of the Air Jordan 1 – this year’s All-Star Weekend will be the 24th anniversary of the legendary “Air Jordan” series – in honor of Michael Jordan and the upcoming All-Star Game.
The Evolution of the NBA Logo
In 2018, the NBA celebrated its 60th anniversary and took some time to look back at how far the league has come since it’s first games in 1949. In particular, the NBA took a look back at its distinctive logo, which has evolved into something much more than just a simple basketball design over the years.
The first NBA logo was an animated silhouette of a man in a jersey with a ball. In 1968, the league adopted a new identity and logo, which it continues to use to this day. The triangle logo – initially designed to represent the three points in a triangle formation – has since become iconic and is still used as one of the main logos for the NBA. In 1989, the league added a circle around the triangle, which it used as a representative of the growing “global game” of basketball.
Over the years, the logo has changed to reflect the times. In the 1960s and 1970s, the logo was made up of a silhouette of a man in a jersey with white trim. In the 1980s and 1990s, the logo was updated to feature a silhouette of a man in a jersey with thin black trim. However, for most of the last 20 years, the logo has been redrawn to feature a silhouette of a man in a jersey with dark gray trim – most recently, in 2018.
Overall Review of the NBA
The NBA certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s an amazing league that continues to evolve and grow. Even before the year 2000, the NBA was known for showcasing vintage games that were well-organized and professionally played, which made them all the more enjoyable for modern viewers. Today, the NBA is the second-largest sport league in the United States and is even growing outside of North America.
With the introduction of the WNBA in 1995 and the USA Men’s National Basketball Team in 1950, the NBA really did branch out into diverse areas of sports. The league is growing and becoming more accessible, which is why it continues to be one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. It’s hard to say if the NBA will ever stop evolving, growing and changing, but it’s clear that no one will ever truly be able to replace Michael Jordan or LeBron James.