Basketball - Statistics & Facts

Basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian-American physical educator James Naismith. The sport was officially adopted as an Olympic event at the 1936 Berlin games and has since grown to become one of the world’s most popular team sports.


In the United States, participation in basketball is invariably high, with as much as 23.41 million participants aged six years and older engaging in the game in 2015 alone. Recreational youth leagues run by mostly private non-profit organizations are usually available for kids and teenagers across the U.S. and players who are able to excel in these leagues typically move on to playing in competitive high school basketball. There remains a consistently high participation rate in U.S. high school basketball and some of these high school players will later advance to competing in the college leagues. The most elite players in college may then go on to be drafted into teams competing in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The NBA is the premier men’s professional basketball league in the U.S. with the average franchise value of its participating teams standing at approximately 1.2 billion U.S. dollars. The NBA is also widely considered to be the highest level of professional basketball in the world and NBA players are among the highest paid athletes worldwide. In 2016, the highest-paid NBA player, LeBron James, earned a salary that amounted to 23 million U.S. dollars and generated additional income of 71 million U.S. dollars from endorsement deals. The main North-American basketball league for women is the WNBA.

Men and women’s college basketball in the United States are operated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA men’s Division 1 single-elimination tournament is one of the most widely-watched sporting events in the U.S. Mostly occurring during the month of March—hence, informally referred to as March Madness—TV advertising revenue for the NCAA men’s tournament have grossed over a billion U.S. dollars in each of the last few years. Ticket sales for college basketball games in the U.S. also continue to grow and attendance at NCAA college basketball games amounted to an overall total number of 740,000 paying spectators in 2015.

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