The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in North America, and is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world. It has thirty franchised member clubs (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada), and is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA (also known as the International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major North American professional sports leagues. NBA players are the world's best paid sportsmen, by average annual salary per player.
The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after absorbing the rival National Basketball League (NBL). The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in New York City. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.
The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams, to determine the national championship of the major college basketball teams. The tournament, organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was created during 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen. Played mostly during March, it is known informally as March Madness or the Big Dance, and has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States. The NCAA has credited Bob Walsh of the Seattle Organizing Committee for starting the March Madness celebration during 1984.
The tournament teams include champions from 32 Division I conferences (which receive automatic bids), and 36 teams which are awarded at-large berths. These "at-large" teams are chosen by an NCAA selection committee, as detailed below. The 64 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single elimination "bracket", which predetermines, when a team wins a game, which team it will face next. Each team is "seeded", or ranked, within its region. After an initial four games between eight lower-ranked teams, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends, at pre-selected neutral sites around the United States. Lower-ranked teams are placed in the bracket against higher ranked teams. Each weekend eliminates three quarters of the teams, from a round of 64, to a "Sweet Sixteen", and for the last weekend of the Tournament a Final Four; the Final Four is usually played during the first weekend of April. These four teams, one from each region, then compete in one location for the national championship.
The shooting guard (SG), also known as the two or off guard, is one of five traditional positions on a basketball team. Players of the position are often shorter, leaner, and quicker than forwards. A shooting guard's main objective is to score points for his team. Some teams ask their shooting guards to bring up the ball as well; these players are known colloquially as combo guards. Kobe Bryant, for example, is a shooting guard who is as good a playmaker as he is a scorer; other examples of combo guards are Jamal Crawford, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Tyreke Evans, and Jason Terry. A player who can switch between playing shooting guard and small forward is known as a swingman. Notable swing men (also known as wing players) include Paul Pierce, Evan Turner, Stephen Jackson, and Tracy McGrady, also Rudy Fernández having an under average size for small forward.
Notable shooting guards include current NBA players Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Manu Ginóbili, Vince Carter, Joe Johnson, Richard Hamilton, James Harden, Paul George, Monta Ellis, Tracy McGrady and former players Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Sam Jones, Earl Monroe, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, Joe Dumars and Jerry West.
Sports are an important part of the culture of the United States. Four of the nation's five most popular team sports were developed in North America: American football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey, whereas soccer was developed in England. The four Major leagues in the United States are the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL); all enjoy massive media exposure and are considered the preeminent competitions in their respective sports in the world. Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are among the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. The top professional soccer league in the United States, Major League Soccer, has not yet reached the popularity levels of the top four sports leagues, although average attendance has been increasing and in fact has matched or surpassed those of the NBA and the NHL.
Professional teams in all major sports operate as franchises within a league. All major sports leagues use the same type of schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league-level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country.
Ford Field was the site of the season ending Final Four and Championship game for 2008-09.
The 2008–09 NCAA Division I men's basketball season began on November 10, 2008 and ended with the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament's championship game on April 6, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The season saw six different teams achieve the AP #1 ranking during the year (just one shy of the NCAA record). Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin was the dominant individual performer, sweeping National Player of the Year honors. The season began with North Carolina becoming the first unanimous preseason #1 team, and ended with the Tar Heels dominating the NCAA tournament en route to their fifth NCAA title. UNC won its six NCAA tournament games by double-digits, and by an average of 19.8 points per game. Junior Wayne Ellington was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.