Forgetting the 1930s and 1940s.
The present-day National Basketball Association is 70 years old although the roots of the league go back to 1946 as the Basketball Association of America and even earlier with five of today’s teams tracing their origins to the National Basketball League, a group that began life as a corporate backed league in 1935 as the Midwest Basketball Conference. Today’s NBA was created on August 3, 1949 with a merger of sorts between the BAA and the NBL. The BAA took in six NBL teams and renamed the entity. The NBA of today has only one thing in common with the NBA of 1949. Its name.
The NBL was an industrial league set up with players working for companies and playing for company teams. The NBL was also very progressive as Negro players were on the roster in 1942. The Basketball Association of America began operations in 1946 when east coast arena owners decided to schedule open dates in their buildings with basketball games. The BAA was always looking for super teams. In 1947, it enticed the American Basketball League’s powerhouse, Baltimore Bullets, to jump leagues. The BAA poached the NBL for teams in 1948 because the league wanted George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers who was the major star of the day. The BAA also took Rochester, a loaded team and Fort Wayne whose owner Fred Zollner had a lot of money. The 1949 NBA had 17 teams. But the league would shed many teams. Six would not return for 1950 and just eight remained by 1953. One unusual aspect of the early days of the NBA was a color barrier during the first four years of the BAA-NBA existence. The league did have a Japanese-American player. It was not until 1950 that the owners decided to employ Negro players. Today’s NBA is a global enterprise, the 1949 NBA struggled to exist.