August 3, 1949: The Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL) agree to a merger, creating the National Basketball Association.
Founded in 1937, the NBL was America's premier professional basketball league for nearly a decade. It began with 13 independent teams in the Midwest and quickly spread in popularity, producing eventual Hall-of-Famers like Bobby McDermott and George Mikan.
The NBL teams played in pretty small arenas in industrial midwestern cities, and Boston Garden owner Walter Brown saw an opportunity for change. Believing that the sport could improve by playing in big-name cities and more advanced stadiums, Brown founded the BAA in 1946, which immediately became a rival.
After struggling to share the spotlight for two years, the 1948 offseason brought significant changes to both associations. Four NBL teams, including Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers, moved into the BAA, raising the BAA's total to 12 teams and lowering the NBL's to nine for the 1948-49 season.
With the BAA seemingly emerging as the victor, representatives from both leagues met in New York City in the summer of 1949, and ultimately decided to merge their leagues. The result would be a 16-team National Basketball Association ran by former BAA President Maurice Podoloff, and the rest was history.
Attempting to concentrate its talent, the league shrunk to as low as eight teams in the 1950s, but has since exploded in popularity, as rule changes like the shot clock and three-point line combined with a rapidly increasing talent pool have resulted in the league becoming a national powerhouse. Despite occasional controversies such as potential corruption with draft lotteries and rigged officiating, the NBA has experienced great success, now including 30 teams and becoming the world's highest paying league according to a 2012 SportingIntelligence study (in terms of average annual salaries).
In 2012, the league's official YouTube channel released this video, celebrating its one billionth hit on the website:
Now run by Commissioner Adam Silver, the league will begin its 67th season in the fall.