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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.

Basketball in the U.S.

In the United States, participation in basketball has remained high over the last decade, with over 20 million people playing the game every year. 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

The NBA is the premier men’s professional basketball league in North America, with the average franchise value of its participating teams standing at approximately 2.48 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 2022, the highest-paid NBA player, LeBron James, earned a salary that amounted to 41.2 million U.S. dollars and generated additional income of 70 million U.S. dollars from endorsement deals. The main North-American basketball league for women is the WNBA. The highest paid players in the women's league in 2022 took home just over 228 thousand U.S. dollars annually. Among these top earners was Diana Taurasi of Phoenix Mercury, who has won the WNBA championship title on three occasions.

College basketball

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 United States. Mostly occurring during the month of March - hence the name March Madness - the tournament attracted almost 17 million viewers in 2021. The most successful team in the tournament's history is UCLA. The college program, nicknamed the Bruins, has taken home the title on 11 occasions, most recently in 1995.

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