Basketball By The Numbers



For the past couple of decades, basketball has cemented its status as one of the world’s most popular sports. Starting from a soccer ball and a peach basket, many amazing developments have dawned on the game since its invention, helping it reach its status today. Adding to the incredible skill, creativity, discipline, and strategy required by players in the fast-paced game, it’s no wonder that the sport’s thrill and excitement have enticed people from across the world who play the sport both professionally and for leisure.

In this post, we’ll delve into basketball’s fascinating history, cut to its worldwide popularity, and fast breakthrough astonishing numbers about the sports’ revenue, salaries, and sales. All these will be laid up with essential visualization for quicker understanding. We’ll then alley-oop to a list of fifty interesting facts and hit the final buzzer with a vital takeaway, rounding all the valuable information presented here about the sport of basketball.

History of Basketball

History of Basketball

December 1891: Dr. James Naismith invented basketball

December 1891 Dr James Naismith invented basketball

In December 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a physical education instructor, invented the sport at a YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) Training School, now Springfield College, in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA.

Basketball’s beginning was unpretentious. The 31-year-old Naismith was searching for an activity to keep his students active, who were confined indoors due to a storm. While they could do winter sports, such as apparatus work or calisthenics, they didn’t match the fun brought by lacrosse or football they could play in warmer weather.

With that, Naismith yearned to develop a new game that was pretty straightforward for everyone to understand but also possessed some complexity to make the gameplay exciting. He also wanted to create one that would allow multiple players at once and would require lots of exercise but sans intense physicality that could result in more serious injuries, given that they’d be playing indoors.

The first basketball game used two peach baskets nailed to the wall about 10 feet above the ground, one on each end of the gymnasium. Naismith initially asked the school janitor to bring two square boxes to serve as goals, but the latter came with baskets instead. Meanwhile, the players used soccer balls for the activity, as no specific ball was made for the game yet.

Dr James Naismith holding a soccer ball and a peach basket

Without the rules, the first-ever basketball match was a scuffle between the teams. As Naismith narrated in a radio program interview in 1939, the players engaged in lots of punching, tackling, and kicking. Despite all that, only William R. Chase made a basket, the first and only score in the sport’s historic initial game.

Nevertheless, all the students were enthusiastic and asked Naismith for them to play again. Naismith devised rules for the game, and it wasn’t long before word spread about the newly-developed game. Various associations asked the inventor for the rules, which were then published in Triangle, the training school’s official paper, on January 15, 1892. [1][2]

March 12th, 1892: The first public game

On March 12, 1892, the first public basketball game was held at the YMCA gymnasium in front of 200 spectators who attended the event to discover the new sport. Teachers played against the students, where the students won 5-1 in a romp. The sport’s popularity rose quickly, and students from other YMCA’s who were present at the event introduced the game at their own training schools. [1][3]

1892: The first college game

In 1892, the first collegiate basketball game was played. However, two schools may have played the sport first. C.O. Bearmis from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, learned about Springfield’s new game and had the students in the institution play basketball. Meanwhile, an attendee of Springfield in 1890 named H.F. Kallenberg asked Naismith for a copy of the sport’s rules and also introduced basketball to his students at the University of Iowa. [2]

1893: The first intercollegiate basketball game

The first-ever intercollegiate game is also disputed, with two schools claiming the record. First, there’s Geneva College, which tags itself to be the “birthplace of college basketball.” They published an article in 1893 detailing a game they played and won against New Brighton on April 8, 1893. However, Vanderbilt also made a case as newspaper and yearbook articles chronicled a game they had against a local Nashville YMCA team on February 7, 1893. [4][5]

1893-1895: Basketball went international

With Naismith being a Canadian and five of his students who played in the very first basketball game were also Canadians, it’s no surprise that Canada became the first country to play the sport outside the U.S. Basketball soon reached other nations, such as France in 1893 and England in 1894.

From there, the sport spread across other European countries like Spain, Belgium, Spain, and Russia. By 1895, the game was already being played in South America, Australia, and China – a remarkable feat as the sport’s expansion happened without the help of television or the Internet. [2][6]

1894: The first basketball ball was invented

In the first two years of the sport, the soccer ball (football) was used as the ball for the game. In 1894, Naismith reached out to A.G. Spalding & Bros. to create one specifically intended for the sport. Spalding came up with a laced leather ball weighing less than 567 grams or 20 ounces. The circumference was 32 inches, about 4 inches or 10 centimeters bigger than the soccer ball (football). [2][7]

January 18, 1896: The first official college basketball game with five on a side

On January 18, 1896, the first official college basketball match following the modern rule of playing with five players on each side was played by the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa. Student athletes from the University of Chicago visited Iowa for the experimental game and emerged as the victors with a final score of 15-12. [2][8]

1898: The birth of the world’s first professional league

With its rising popularity, the establishment of various professional leagues soon came about across the United States. In 1898, the National Basketball League (NBL) became the first pro-league in the world. It was composed of six teams: the German town Nationals, Hancock Athletic Association, Clover Wheelman from Philadelphia, and the Camden Electrics, Millville Glass Blowers, and Trenton Nationals from New Jersey. The Trenton Nationals became the inaugural champion of the league.

While the games were exhilarating, the NBL was short-lived, only lasting for five years. Frequent movement of players, even within the same season, made franchises unstable and the games unreliable. Other internal issues and controversies also hurt the league, eventually resulting in its demise. Despite such, NBL’s contribution was indubitable as it paved the way for the formation of other basketball leagues. [9][10][11]

1904: Basketball became part of the Olympics as a demo event

Basketball first appeared in the Olympic program as a demonstration event in the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri Games. Only American teams participated in the competition and were considered a contest under the country’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Championships. [12]

1906: The arrival of the modern hoop

As the sport was originally played using a peach basket, participants were required to climb and retrieve the ball manually after every score. Later on, a hole was added at the bottom of the basket to poke out balls easier by using a long stick or rod. In 1906, the game changed with the invention of the modern hoop with a metal rim, netting, and backboard, similar to the one we use today. [12][13]

1925: The American Basketball League was formed

National Football League president Joseph Carr formed the American Basketball League to create a true pro league for the sport. Nine teams from the East and Midwest regions composed the league, but financial woes ended its operation in 1931. The league came back in 1933 but was dissolved in 1955 with the return of the NBL. [11]

1936: Basketball was officially added to the Olympic program

Three decades after the demo event, men’s basketball was officially added to the Olympic program and was first played in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. The United States won the Olympic medal by beating Canada in a 19-8 win. Four decades later, women’s basketball was added in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. [12][14]

1937: NBL’s comeback

After 33 years, NBL came back in 1937 with 13 teams. Three corporations became the league’s new support system: Good Year, Fire Stone, and General Electric. [1][11]

1939: NCAA’s first basketball tournament

College tournaments also gained traction with the ascent of professional sports leagues across the U.S.. In 1939, the NCAA’s first basketball tournament was held at Northwestern University. The University of Oregon became the first collegiate basketball national champion, defeating Ohio State University 46-33 on March 27. [1]

1946: Basketball Association of America was born

In 1946, the Basketball Association of America was organized by Walter A. Brown, posing a challenge to the NBL. Comprising 11 teams, BAA’s main edge against the NBL was it was established in bigger cities and, within three years, had achieved massive success. It became the country’s major pro-league and the opportunity to play its games in major courts and arenas. In the 1948-1949 season, four NBL franchises transferred to the BAA along with their best players. [11][16]

1949: The birth of the NBA

After three years of rivalry, the NBL and BAA agreed to merge with mutual consent on August 3, 1949. Thus, forming the world’s most popular basketball of all-time – the National Basketball Association (NBA). Seventeen teams joined the first season, with the Minneapolis Lakers emerging as the champion. [11][17]

Through the decades: NBA’s growth and influence

Six teams bolted out of the league before the second season, bringing down the total to 11 teams. More teams dropped out in the subsequent years. By 1954, only eight teams were left in the NBA. The Chicago Packers joined the league in 1961, which started the league’s expansion.

The American Basketball League (ABA) was formed in 1967, causing the NBA some issues and losing some of its notable players. Nevertheless, the league continued to grow, having 17 teams in 1970. In 1976, ABA merged with NBA, bringing in the Indiana Pacers, the New York Nets, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Indiana Pacers to the league

By 1980, there were already 23 teams in the NBA, 27 teams in 1990, and 30 teams in 2004, the league’s largest size.

The establishment of the NBL, BAA, and the NBA evoked great interest and following not in the United States but many other places across the world. The sport indeed became a global phenomenon, with many countries establishing their own professional basketball league.

The sport also brought many superstars, from Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O’Neal, among many others, who all helped sustain the sport’s popularity across the decades. By the 2000s, endorsement deals and sponsorships flooded the league from all avenues, attesting to the league’s reach. [11][17][18]

Today: Basketball’s ubiquitous popularity

From its humble beginnings, basketball’s popularity has evolved massively and its growth will undeniably be relentless in the years to come, transcending the perimeters of the court and attracting more billions of fans and players across the world in the years to come.

The Amazing Growth of Basketball Into a Worldwide Sport

The overall timeline of the History of Basketball is illustrated in the image below.

Countries Where Basketball is Popular

A basketball with a world map

Dr. James Naismith may have not imagined in his wildest dream that basketball would reach its status today. Yet, as it is, basketball ranks among the most well-loved sports worldwide. But, where is basketball actually popular? Here, let’s look at some of the countries where the sport is widely played and extensively followed. [19][20][21]

United States

Staples Center in Los Angeles

The United States is where the sport is most popular since it is where the game was created. It’s among the four major sports in the country, along with American football, baseball, and hockey. Since its invention, basketball has spread like wildfire across the country and its where the developments in the sports unfurled. Of course, it’s also home to the NBA, the world’s most popular basketball league, where the style of play is at the highest level and every player aspires to play.


Basketball with the Canadian flag

Ice Hockey is Canada’s defining sport, but the popularity and influence of basketball in the Great White North are steadily growing, with the addition of millions of Canadians following the sport annually. Canada also takes pride as the sport’s inventor and the first few players of the game were Canadians.

In 1994, the NBA awarded franchises to the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors. In 2019, the latter became the first non-American team to win a championship in the NBA, further helping the rise of the sport in Canada. Today, basketball is most popular at the collegiate level, specifically in Southern Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Southern Alberta. Basketball is also played throughout the year as several pro-leagues are also established in the country. [22]


A tourist playing basketball with the locals

Basketball came into the Philippines through the American teachers that introduced the sport to Filipinos in the early 20th century. The entire nation is literally obsessed with the game and despite having thousands of islands and dialects, all regions love to watch and play basketball. Basketball courts are available, even in the most remote location in the country.

What makes the sport well-loved in the country is its accessibility and simplicity. There are many makeshift courts and equipment, where many kids throw shots and sometimes even play the game barefoot, showing their intense passion for the sport. Basketball is simply embedded in the country’s roots.


A basketball game in Valencia, Spain

Basketball may not ring a bell when thinking about Spain, but the sport is quite popular in the country. Though it may not surpass football, it comes right second and has its own following. Pau Gasol, their NBA star, has played for two decades, helping basketball gain attention in Spain. In Barcelona, there are many courts where friendly Spanish players passionately and competitively play the sport.


A basketball with Argentinas flag

Like in Spain, football is a religion in Argentina. Basketball has only been famous recently after their national team won the gold medal at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. Since then, the sport has been widely accepted and has ranked among the country’s most popular sports. It served as an awakening that basketball should be supported as it gave numerous honors for Argentina.

Today, basketball is very visible in the country, with many youth players playing the sport for leisure and considering playing it professionally. Many Argentinians have also made it into the NBA, such as Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs superstar, deemed a legend in Argentina. [23]


A basketball with the Chinese flag

Basketball is incredibly popular in China, where over 600 million fans generally enjoy the sport, with nearly 150 million considering themselves hardcore fanatics. The NBA ranks among the most-watched sports leagues in China, and every year more and more Chinese nationals watch the playoffs.

In the early 2000s, 200 million viewers watched Yao Ming, the most famous Chinese player in Chinese history, as he debuted in the NBA with the Houston Rockets. The Chinese love watching the sport but also like to play it. CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) estimates that about half a billion Chinese play the game. [24]


Russian flag

Though basketball isn’t the most popular sport in Russia, it still boasts a massive fanbase, given its large geographic size and population. Following of the sport stems from the Soviet Era, where the national team brought several international titles. Today, their national team is still solid, coming in second place in many FIBA World Cups and winning their first Olympic basketball medal in the 2021 London Summer Olympics. The country has also produced some NBA stars, such as Andrei Kirilenko, Sasha Kaun, and Timofey Mozgov.


Young people playing in Sydney Australia

Australia has been one of the countries to play basketball, reaching the country in 1897, just six years after the sport was invented in the United States. Popularity rose incredibly in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, experienced a considerable decline but was able to recover its prevalence. In the past years, many Australian players entered the NBA, proving the country’s interest in the sport. Today, it’s the second-most popular sport in the country and it’s estimated that 1 in every Australian likes the game, as per Sweeney Sports. [25]


Serbian flag

Serbia may be small, but its love for basketball is undoubtedly huge. The country has a strong basketball fanbase and has established a strong reputation not only in the European competitions but in international tournaments. The Serbians won two FIBA World Championship (in 1998 and 2002), and two Olympic silver medals (in 1996 and 2016). In 2021, Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets, became the first Serbian player to win the NBA MVP award. [26]


Greek flag in Greece

Greece has one of the most incredible basketball atmospheres in the world, often matching the explosiveness of that of football. The sport’s popularity skyrocketed in 1987 after the Greek national team won the EuroBasket Championship for the first time in their home country. Basketball’s following has grown exponentially, and the Greek national team and their club teams have been strong competitors in international tournaments.

Top Basketball Leagues in the World

Seemingly fiery basketball

There’s no doubt that the NBA is the premier basketball league in the world. However, it doesn’t mean that high-quality and competitive games are restricted in the United States. Other countries have also established professional basketball associations outside North America, proving that the sport is truly a global fad. With that, let’s look at the top basketball leagues in the world, aside from the NBA. [27][28][[29][30][31]


The EuroLeague is the counterpart of the football’s Champions League. It showcases the cream of the crop, as, like with the UCL, different European clubs need to qualify for the league. Thus, bringing in only the top-tier professional basketball clubs from various European countries. Qualification for the competition is usually based on the team’s success in the domestic and regional competitions, such as in the EuroCup, where a team’s success allows them to move up to the EuroLeague in the next season. Founded in 1957, EuroLeague is historically the most prestigious and important basketball competition in Europe.

Liga ACB

Established in 1957, Liga ACB (Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto) is Spain’s top professional basketball league and ranked among the world’s best domestic competitions. It’s the breeding ground of many world-class talents like the Gasol brothers, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, and Serge Ibaka. Meanwhile, it also serves as one of the most accepting destinations for talents across the world, but not only that, as the league also offers high salaries to its players.

Since its foundation, two teams had dominated the league, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, recreating the rivalry from the football field into the basketball court. The two teams combined for 51 out of the 60 titles. Liga ACB is also a force to reckon with in the EuroLeague, already winning 11 championships, proof of the league’s dominance.

Basketball Super League (BSL)

While basketball was first played in Turkey in the early 1900s, its professional league, the Basketball Super League (BSL), was only founded over six decades later, in 1966. Despite such, huge sums of money have been invested into the league, elevating the overall quality of play, which may even soon surpass Liga ACB’s. Sixteen teams currently play in the league, with two of its teams, Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes, ranking among the best in Europe at the moment.

VTB United League

VTB United league is the top-tier league in Russia, founded in 2008. The regular season takes place from October to April. Various professional clubs from Russia and surrounding Eastern European countries, such as Latvia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Estonia, gut it out against each other. [32]

Liga Nacional De Básquet

Argentina’s Liga Nacional De Basquet is one of the best non-NBA professional basketball leagues in the American continent. Created in the 1980s, it serves as the home of some of the best basketball players in South America. Aside from Manu Ginobili, other NBA players that started their careers in the LNB in the NBA include Ruben Wolkowyski, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, Fabricio Oberto, and Pepe Sanchez. Liga Nacional De Básquet follows the NBA format, with the regular season, playoffs, and all-star games. [33]

Greek A1 Basketball League

Greece’s presence in the NBA may have been scanty, but the Greek A1 Basketball League is as fascinating to watch. Its two outstanding teams, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, have one of the most heated rivalries in basketball. Each has shown its competitiveness in the EuroLeague as well, combining for eight EuroLeague championships in the last 16 years.

National Basketball League

Australia’s Basketball League was established in 1979, with nine teams. In its early years, the NBL was staged only in front of a few hundred spectators. Today, around 750,000 people watch the games each season. Apart from that, more people watch the games through television and other platforms worldwide, placing it among the most-watched basketball leagues next to the NBA and the EuroLeague. Ten teams currently play in the NBL, nine from Australia and one from New Zealand. [34]

Lega Basket Series A

Founded in 1920, Italy’s Lega Basket Series A is the first and the top-tier Italian professional basketball league. Sixteen teams currently play in the league, but nearly a hundred teams have seen action since its establishment. Lega Basket Series A ranks among the top domestic tournaments in Europe and has consistently been the source of EuroLeague champions. NBA players like Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari, and Marco Belinelli began their careers in Lega Basket Series A. [35]

Chinese Basketball Association

The Chinese Basketball Association was founded in 1995 but has quickly risen to become the country’s and Asia’s preeminent basketball league. Only 12 teams were included in its inaugural season. Today, the tournament has 20 teams. It’s the most talent-laden tournament in the region, sending several players to the NBA like Zhou Qi, Wang Zhizhi, and Yao Ming. Meanwhile, former NBA players who ended their careers in the United States travel all the way to China to continue playing the sport. [36]


Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) Pro A is France’s premier basketball league, established in 1921. Eighteen teams play in the league, with ASVEL, a club owned by San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker, winning the most championships. Aside from the latter, LNB Pro-A has also fed up other players in the NBA like Mickael Pietrus, Ian Mahinmi, Kevin Seraphin, Nicolas Batum, Johan Petro, and Boris Diaw, vouching for the French’s league high-quality players and game. To date, however, only one team from LNB Pro A, Limoges CSP, has won the highly coveted Euroleague championship.

Basketball By The Numbers

Basketball with chart

This section will cover numbers and data associated with basketball’s popularity, revenue, player salaries, earnings, and sales. All information is presented with helpful charts and graphical illustrations to better grasp these fascinating figures about the sport.


Basketball arena with lights

The NBA, the world’s premier basketball leagueBasketball Worldwide Popularity Compared to Other Sports (Per Number of Fans)

Basketball Worldwide Popularity Compared to Other Sports (Per Number of Fans)

Source: Sportshows

As per Sportshow, football (soccer) remains the most popular sport globally, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. It is followed by cricket with a 2.5 billion fanbase, mainly in Asia, Australia, and the UK. Basketball is hailed as the third most popular sport worldwide, with over 2.2 billion fans.

Field hockey ranks fourth with 2 billion, tennis at fifth with 1 billion, and volleyball with 900 million global fans. Table tennis and baseball come next with 850 million and 500 million fans, respectively. Completing the top 10 are American football/rugby with 410 million fans and golf with 390 million fans across the globe. [37][38][39]

NBA Global Interest in Specific Countries

NBA Level of Interest in Specific Countries

Source: Statista

The NBA is the most-watched professional basketball league in the world, but interest still varies in different countries. A survey by Statista in April 2021 showed that the league has a huge following in the Philippines with 63% of the respondents claiming they are interested in the NBA. Other nations with a bigger fan base include China at 38%, Canada at 30%, and Mexico at 29%. Argentina and Spain come close with 28% and 27%, respectively, while only 19% of the respondents in Australia said they had interest in the American league.[40]

Level of interest in the NBA per Age group in the United States

Level of interest in the NBA per Age in the US

Source: Statista

The Age Group 34-44 are the biggest fans of the NBA, as per the survey done by Statista in September 2021. In this report, 38% of this age bracket claimed they are avid fans, 30% said they are casual fans, and the remaining 37% said they’re not fans.

The second largest avid fan base of the NBA comes from Age Group 18-27, with 27% of the respondents said they are avid fans. However, the age bracket has more casual fans than Age Group 34-44 at 35%. The Age Group 45-64 and 65+ has the least number of avid fans with 15% and 9%, respectively. [41]

Level of Interest in the NBA per Ethnicity in the United States

Level of interest in the NBA per Ethnicity in the United States

Source: Statista

As per Statista in September 2021, 40% of the Black respondents said they are avid fans of the NBA, followed by the Hispanics with 34%, Other ethnicities with 27%, and Whites with 16%. With that, the White also have the biggest share of the respondents that claimed that they’re not a fan of the league with 56%, followed by the Hispanics with 32%, Other ethnicities with 37%, and Blacks with 23%. Blacks also have the biggest share of casual fans with 36%, while the Whites have the lowest with only 28%. [42]


A basketball-and one hundred bills on a wooden court

NBA’s Total League Revenue from 2010/11 to 2019/20

NBA’s Total League Revenue

Source: Statista

In the 2010/11 season, the NBA generated combined revenues amounting to $3.96 billion U.S. dollars. It dipped the following year, generating only US$3.68 billion in the 2011/12 season. After the 2011/12 season, the league’s total revenue has been steadily increasing, earning US$4.56 billion in the 2012/13 season, US$5.18 billion in the 2014/15 season, and US$7.37 billion in the 2016/17 season. By the 2018/19 season, total revenue was about to reach the nine-billion mark at US$8.76 billion, but suffered its first decrease after seven seasons, generating only US$7.92 in the 2019/20 season. [43]

NBA Revenue Breakdown

NBA Revenue Breakdown (2019/2020 season)

Source: Statista

In the 2019/20 season, the biggest chunk of the NBA’s revenue came from TV Rights at 56%. Ticket sales share was at 19%, while sponsorships and merchandise, such as jerseys, shirts, hats, and gift shop items, were both at 13%. [44]

Earning from Broadcasting Rights of the NBA

Earning from Broadcasting Rights of the NBA

Source: Statista

As per Statista in 2019, the NBA generated an income of US$3.05 billion from TV broadcasting rights. US$2.6 billion were derived from domestic broadcasting rights, while the remaining US$450 million was earned through overseas broadcasting rights. [45]

Player Salaries and Other Earnings

Basketball over bank notes

Average Annual Player Salary in Various Sports Leagues

Average Annual Player Salary in Various Sports Leagues

As per Statista, the NBA had the highest annual average player wage in the 2019-2020 season at US$8.32 million. Indian Premier League (cricket) came second, offering an average salary of US$5.3 million.

Major League Baseball, English Premier League (football), and the National Football League ranked third to fifth, with US$4.03 million, US$3.97 million, and US$3.26 million average annual player salary. Other leagues part of the top ten include La Liga (football) from Spain, the National Hockey League, Serie A (football), Bundesliga (football), and Ligue 1 (football). [46]

Average Monthly Salaries Salaries Across Basketball Leagues in the World

Basketball Salaries Across Basketball Leagues
Source: RList

The National Basketball Association, the world’s premier basketball league, offers the highest average and maximum salary at 1 million to 6 million USD. Outside the NBA, players in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) receive the highest monthly wage at US$250,000.

Euroleague players get a lower average monthly salary at USD$85,000, but can receive higher maximum wage compared to CBA players at US$550,000 compared to the latter’s US$500,000. Completing the top 5 are Turkey’s BSL and Spain’s Liga ACB both have US$47,000, but Liga ACB players may earn nearly USD$40,000 more with their maximum wage of a half a million US dollars. [47]

Highest-paid NBA players in 2020/21 (Salary and Endorsements)

Highest-paid NBA players in 2021 (Salary and Endorsements)
Source: RList

Lebron James was the highest paid NBA player in the 2020/21 season, earning a total of US$95.4 million on and off-court income. Stephen Curry had a higher salary, but earned US$24 million less than “The King” in endorsements, only having a total of $74.4 million income.

Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook, James Harden ranked third to fifth, with US$65.2 million, US$58 million, and US$50 million total earnings. Giannis Antetokounmpo earned US$40 million, Klay Thompson with US$43.3 million, Kyrie Irving with US$43 million, Chris Paul with US$40.1 million, and Damian Lillard with US$39 million, placing them sixth to tenth in the rankings. [48]

Highest Annual Earning from Signature Shoe Deals

Highest Annual Earning from Signature Shoe Deals

Source: RList

Even 17 years after seeing action in the NBA, Michael Jordan continues to be one of the most prominent basketball stars and still captures the heart of many sports enthusiasts in the world. A proof to that is the undying demand for his signature shoes. As of 2019, Jordan’s annual earning from his shoe partnership with Nike amounted to US$130 million. Only US$3 million shy of the combined earnings of the seven other players on the list like Lebron James with US$32 million, Kevin Durant with $26 million, and Stephen Curry with US$20 million. [49]

50 Interesting Facts About Basketball

Basketball over an book

  1. Brown was the color of the first basketballs, which was very hard for players and spectators to see. In 1957, Coach Tony Hinkle from Butler University thought of the idea to create orange balls for better visibility.
  2. Originally nine players on each side made up a basketball match, similar to the standard number of players in a baseball team. It was later on changed to two teams of five players each.
  3. The first-ever basketball match in Europe was at a YMCA in Paris, France in 1893. It was arranged by Mel Rideout, a Springfield student.
  4. FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) was founded on June 18, 1932 in Geneva, Switzerland. The eight (8) founding national federations were Argentina, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland.
  5. Before FIBA was founded, the International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF) governed basketball, and ball games played with hands. A treaty called the “Protocol of Stockholm” transferred the purview of basketball to FIBA.
  6. Olympic basketball games were first played outdoors, in modified tennis courts.
  7. In 1961, the ABL (American Basketball League) became the first organized, professional basketball league to utilize the three-point line.
  8. As soccer balls were used in the early years of basketball, players rubbed coal dust on their hands to better grip the ball.
  9. From its invention until the creation of its draft rules, basketball was a nameless sport. It was only in 1891 when the thought came to its inventor, Dr. James Naismith. One of the game’s original players, Frank Mahan, recommended calling the game “Naismith Ball,” but it was gaily declined. To make things simple and logical, the two called the game “basketball,” given that players have a ball and a basket to score.
  10. The longest game in NBA history occurred on January 6, 1951. Indianapolis Olympians and Rochester Royals faced each other in a wild game, with the Olympians emerging as winners after six overtimes and a final score of 75-73.
  11. Only 13 items were included in the first set of basketball rules. Dr. James Naismith wrote it using a stenographer, lasting only for less than an hour.
  12. In the early 2000s, Naismith’s granddaughter found the original typewritten rules and important documents dating back to the sport’s birth.
  13. The original typewritten rules were auctioned and sold for a staggering 4,338,500 USD.
  14. In 1953-1954, the league and Dumont Television Network signed the first NBA national television contract.
  15. Before 1923, teams had the luxury to select which player would shoot the free throw after a foul.
  16. It’s estimated that average NBA players burn nearly 800 calories per game.
  17. Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers holds the record for longest ever suspension in the NBA. He was suspended for 86 games (73 games and 13 playoff games). Not to mention that he also lost about $7 million in salary.
  18. The Women’s National Basketball Association held its inaugural season in 1997, with eight teams. By 2004, there were already 14 teams. However, some teams were disbanded in subsequent years. As of 2021, 12 teams are playing in the league.
  19. Basketball only became straight in 1903. Interferences like stairways, columns, and offices were accepted as normal. It was only in that year when a rule was set requiring boundary lines on the court.
  20. The silhouette on the NBA logo is Jerry West, a former all-star who played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960 to 1974.
  21. In 1898, Naismith became the basketball head coach of the University of Kansas. He coached the team for nine years and ended up with a 55-60 win-loss record. Ironically, he’s the only head coach of the institution with a losing record.
  22. Goaltending was only regarded as a violation in1944. Before that year, it was never prohibited as only a few players could actually execute it.
  23. Fastest ejection in NBA history happened in 2019, with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tossed out 63 seconds into their match-up against the Denver Nuggets.
  24. Shaquille O’ Neal scored only one shot beyond the arc during his entire professional career.
  25. A lateral ankle sprain is the most common injury in the NBA. Meanwhile, knee pain or patellofemoral inflammation is the most common reason why players miss their players.
  26. Basketball is the national sport of Lithuania.
  27. Maple wood is used on all NBA courts. It’s strong, durable, and flexible. Thus, allowing players to jump and land much safer.
  28. Dribbling wasn’t part of basketball in its early years. Players will catch the ball, be permitted to take a few steps, and stop to shoot the ball.
  29. On average, NBA players run four miles each game.
  30. Much of the initial basketball rules Naismith has devised were incorporated from “Duck On A Rock,” a famous medieval game among children.
  31. On his debut as Bull on October 18, 1974, Nate Thurmond scored 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, plus 12 blocks, making him the first NBA player to notch a quadruple-double.
  32. Converse All-Star high-top sneakers were the first shoe specifically made for basketball. It was released in 1917, nearly three decades after the invention of sport.
  33. A warm basketball is bouncier than a cold one.
  34. Tyron Curtis was the shortest player to play in the NBA. He was only 5’3 tall but earned the nickname “Muggsy Bogues” because of his scrappy and intense defense.
  35. Since 1891, the standard height of the basketball hoop stands 10 ft tall.
  36. Michael Jordan is the richest basketball player ever, with a total net worth of over 2 billion US dollars.
  37. Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for scoring the most points in a single basketball game. On March 2, 1962, he scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors in their 169-147 win against the New York Knicks.
  38. Air Jordan is the best-selling basketball shoe of all time.
  39. Kobe Bryant was the youngest player ever to start in an NBA game at age 18.5.
  40. In the early 1900s, basketball games were played inside cages of chicken mesh and wire to prevent players from falling onto the spectators. As many players had often been injured, it was later on stopped.
  41. North Korea has different basketball rules. For instance, a dunk equals three points instead of two, while the team loses a point for every missed free throw shot.
  42. Philadelphia Warrior Joseph “Jumping Joe” Fulks holds the record for the most number of missed field goals in a regular-season game. He missed 42 out of his 55 attempts.
  43. The Los Angeles Lakers had the longest winning streak at 33 games in the history of the NBA. The feat happened in the 1971/72 season, with a team bannered by Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Wilt Chamberlain.
  44. Karl Malone holds the record for the most number of free throws made at 9,787.
  45. With a maximum capacity of 22,076, Detroit Piston’s home area, The Palace of Auburn Hills, is the largest NBA arena by capacity.
  46. Salt Lake City is the smallest city with an NBA franchise.
  47. Boston Celtics is the team with the most championships at 17. Seven of which came consecutively from 1960–1966.
  48. Ray Allen is the league’s best three-point shooter with 2,973 3-point shots.
  49. Average players of the NBA can jump about 28 inches off the ground.
  50. Around 60% of the NBA players go broke or bankrupt just within five years after ending their careers.

Final Words

Basketball thrown at the last second of the game

Basketball has had an interesting history. From being a game intended to keep students active during winter to becoming one of the world’s most popular and lucrative sports, basketball has come a long way. Game players enjoy playing the sport, while spectators feel the delight and thrill, often giving the best atmosphere. Yet, its influence is not only confined inside the court. Outside the games, there are the sponsorships, advertisement, clothing, shoes, and other merchandise, proving basketball’s incredible reach. The sport will undoubtedly continue growing, and we’ll see more action and experience more fun in future generations.


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