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The highest level of competition for basketball is played in the National Basketball Association. The NBA traces its origins back to 1949 when teams came together from two predecessor leagues – National Basketball League (NBL) and the Basketball Association of America (BAA) – to form a single professional league. 17 teams were members of the NBA during its debut season in 1949. Some teams merged with others and a few others folded over the next several seasons. The league quickly stabilized and grew in popularity as top collegiate and professional players signed contracts with various NBA teams. The league expanded to include other franchises in subsequent decades.
Currently 30 teams belong to the NBA which are divided into the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Each conference is comprised of 15 teams. Teams are typically comprised of pro players drafted from U.S. colleges and international teams. The NBAhas many superstars but Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are two legendary players. Chamberlain set many scoring and rebounding records that still stand in the NBA. Russell played a huge role in helping the Boston Celtics become the league's most dominant team in that era when he led the Celtics to nine NBA titles in a 10 season span from 1958-59 to 1968-69.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird helped the league gain increased popularity in the 1980s as their teams – the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers – routinely met in the NBA finals to decide the league champion. Michael Jordan emerged as the NBA's greatest player in the 1990s when he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the decade and dominated with scoring and playmaking abilities. Many great NBA players are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame located in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Basketball hall of fame honors players, coaches, teams and contributors at all levels of the game of basketball and is named for the inventor of basketball, James Naismith. Currently, 305 individuals and eight teams are enshrined as members of the basketball hall of fame.
Fans can purchase NBA game tickets by going to official team websites or online ticket sellers. Prices vary by team and venue. Tickets prices increase based on seating proximity to the court. Tickets for playoff games are also typically higher priced than for regular season games.