Even during a pandemic and a shortened season, NBA games managed to attract millions of viewers. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the country and it’s just as much fun to watch as it is to play.
Basketball is a sport that’s over 100 years old. It has many established rules, teams, statistics, and cultures within it. This can all make it intimidating and even overwhelming for anyone who is just starting to wonder how to get into watching basketball.
However, it’s actually fairly easy and enjoyable to start watching basketball. And we’re here to help you do that. So keep on reading and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know to get into basketball.
- Know the History of Basketball
James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts in the year 1891. According to legend, James was asked to come up with a game that could be played indoors and was less dangerous than American football.
He came up with a game that involved shooting a ball into a peach basket. This first iteration of basketball had nine players from each team on the court.
Unlike today’s hoops with nets, the peach basket had a bottom, so the ball had to be pushed out of the basket after each successful shot.
Unsure what to call his new game, one student suggested Naismith Ball. Naismith wisely opted for the title of “Basketball” instead. The first game of basketball ended with a score of 1-0.
Basketball was so popular at Naismith’s YMCA that it soon became a common sport at many American colleges. Naismith himself would coach the basketball team for the University of Kansas and would surprisingly end his first season with a losing record.
Multiple professional leagues started popping up across the country as well. In 1936, basketball became so popular that it even became an Olympic sport.
Eventually, in 1949, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded. The NBA was formed through mergers of various smaller professional leagues and continues to be the top professional basketball league in the world.
- Understand the Basics of Basketball
Basketball is a team sport. Two teams put five of their players on the court to play against each other. The object of the game is to get more points than your opponent by shooting baskets.
If the offensive team holds the ball behind the mid-court line, then they have ten seconds to get the ball onto the other side of the line. If they don’t, then the other team gets the ball.
The ball has to make its way down the court through dribbling or passing. The team that possesses the ball is the offense. The other team is the defense.
When a team scores a basket, they get two points and then the ball goes to the other team. If someone makes a basket outside of the three-point line, then the shot is worth three points.
If someone makes a free throw shot, their team is awarded one point.
Each game is split into sections. And all levels of basketball are played in two halves. In college, each game is forty minutes long.
In the NBA, games are 48 minutes long.
- Know the Positions
Unlike other sports, the positions in basketball are not as rigid. With that said, as the game has developed, positions have developed that have been adopted by pretty much every major basketball team. Let’s look at those positions below.
The point guard is usually the leader of the team. They tend to be the best passer and ball-handler on the team.
This person is usually very fast and they’re good at driving the ball. Because of this, they tend to lead their team in assists and are able to take shots for themselves as well.
These players are quick and can hit shots from various locations on the court. The point guard usually has a deep understanding of the game and is able to direct their teammates during gameplay in order to maximize their chances of winning.
Interestingly enough, point guards tend to be the shortest players on the team.
While the other players are more focused on scoring points, the point guard should be trying to figure out how to set their team up for the best chances of success.
The shooting guard is usually seen as a wing. These players tend to be excellent shooters and are able to move around the three-point line with the ball with ease.
A shooting guard also needs to be able to make themselves more open so that they can set themselves up for successful shots.
The small forward is the most versatile position on the team. They tend to be great dribblers and need to fill in when their teammates are not open or are being double-teamed. They tend to act similarly to the point guard.
A small forward needs to be strong and fast. They tend to get fouled a lot due to the kinds of shots they take.
The power forward tends to be the team’s most dependent and powerful shooter. They usually post up close to the basket and wait to be passed the ball. Power forwards are big in size and tend to be close to seven feet tall.
On defense, a power forward will usually guard the bigger players.
Finally, there is the center. This player tends to hang around the baseline and is usually the biggest player on the team. They usually take shots close to the basket and are great at getting rebounds and setting screens.
Over the years, faster and more versatile players have been filling the role of the center. A center who can score close to the basket is able to create balance for the offense.
If the center is really good, they’ll get double-teamed which can lead to more open shots for other players.
- Understand the NBA
The National Basketball Association is made up of thirty teams across the United States and Canada. There are Western and Eastern Conferences, each containing fifteen teams.
In each conference, there are three divisions. The Western Conference is made up of the Pacific, Northwest, and Southwest divisions. The Eastern Conference is made up of the Southeast, Central, and Atlantic divisions.
One standard season contains 82 games. And the top eight teams from each conference go on to play in the postseason.
Each team in the NBA has a head coach as well as multiple assistant coaches. There are usually assistant coaches for all aspects of the game, including player development, interior scoring, rebounding, defense, and offense.
Some of the best coaches in NBA history are Larry Brown, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, and Don Nelson.
- Understand How to Watch Basketball Games
You can’t really get into watching basketball games without actually being able to watch basketball games. It can be a bit difficult to get access to every NBA game in a season.
If you want that kind of access, then you should consider signing up for a cable package. These packages allow you to watch ABC, NBA TV, ESPN, and TNT. These channels cover all of the major NBA game broadcasts.
YouTube TV also comes with all of the major NBA broadcasts. You can also pay extra for their League Pass. Any game that you miss can be recorded on YouTube TV’s unlimited DVR.
The best part about League Pass is that you get live access to all of the games that are not in your local area. However, you can’t get access to your local team or to the NBA postseason. You’ll be able to watch those games on-demand three hours after they air.
- Pick Your Favorite NBA Team
If you want to get into any sport, it’s best to have a favorite team to root for. For many people, this is simply the team that’s closest to their hometown. However, as a new person to basketball, you might not feel any connection to your home team.
What’s nice about the NBA is that it’s not as tribalistic as the NFL and fans don’t get as crazy when they find out you like a different team.
If you want to be a frontrunner and pick the easiest team to cheer for, you should go with a club like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Golden State Warriors. While the Warriors are probably the best team in the NBA, the Lakers have a strong history and are seen as a dominant force in the league.
If you want to be more patient and pick a team that can grow into a successful franchise, you should consider teams like the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, or New York Knicks.
If you’d rather support a team with the most dedicated fanbase, we suggest that you consider cheering for either the San Antonio Spurs or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The most fulfilling teams to cheer for are the ones who are talented enough to overachieve and young enough to grow into themselves. Do you want to pick a team with a lot of promise and look as if you put a lot of thought into your favorite team? If so, then you should go with a team like the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, or the Indiana Pacers.
- Understand College Basketball
As fun as it is to watch grown men run around and throw a ball to each other, it’s even more exhilarating to watch the next generation of great athletes do it.
Each year, the country goes crazy for March Madness as they hope their alma mater makes it all the way to the championship.
The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament consists of 68 teams that play against each other in seven rounds in order to win the national championship. The penultimate round is referred to as the Final Four.
For the selection process, there are 32 Division I conferences that all get an automatic bid. Those bids are awarded to the teams that win the postseason conference tournament.
There’s also a selection committee that decides which other 36 teams will play in March Madness that year.
College basketball tends to be a lot of fun to watch for a number of reasons. First off, college players don’t get paid (although those rules are changing). Because they don’t get paid, it gives the sensation that they’re playing in order to win and not just to cash a check.
Also, college fans tend to be rowdy and full of energy. Because these people picked to go to that school, they have more attachment to their teams than a person who was simply born in the same state as their favorite team.
College basketball is also a lot of fun to bet on. Sites like Doc’s Sports offer helpful betting tips and strategies for betting beginners and veterans alike.
The Importance of Knowing How To Get Into Watching Basketball
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better idea of how to get into watching basketball. As we can see, it might take a little bit of patience and research to truly understand the game but that’s part of the fun. More than anything, just start watching basketball and enjoying yourself.
By learning more about the game, you’ll be able to gain a deeper appreciation for it.
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