The NBA was founded back in the year 1946 in New York City. At that time, it was called the Basketball Association of America (BBA) until 1949, when it changed to NBA after merging with National Basketball League (NBL). The name was changed to avoid any legal complications, though BAA’s governing body retained its role. The founders were owners of ice hockey arenas in the Midwestern and Northeastern US and Canada.
The first NBA game was played on 1st November 1946. The match, which took place at Maple Leaf Gardens in Ontario, was between the New York Knickerbockers and Toronto Huskies. Ossie Schectman, who played for the Knickerbockers, is the man who went down in history as having scored the first basket in the NBA.
There had been many other professional basketball leagues before the NBA came to be, including the Academy Basketball League (ABL), the NBL and the BAA. However, this was the first league that brought basketball games to big arenas in the major cities. During the initial years, the quality of the game in BAA was not so different from that of other independent clubs and competing leagues. For instance, Baltimore Bullets joined the league and won the title in that same year.
After the BAA and the NBL merged to form the NBA, the new league had 17 franchises. The league then consolidated to 11 franchises in 1950, and later to 8 franchises in 1954. The eight franchises have remained in the NBA league to date.
The NBA color barrier was broken in the 1947-1948 season when Wataru Misaka, a Japanese-American, played for the New York Knicks. He was the only non-white player in the NBA until 1950 when the Washington Capitols signed the first African-American player called Harold Hunter. Harold was later cut from the team before the training camp was over. However, several other African-Americans were signed in different teams during the same season.