Want to see how it all started? NBA History: Setting the Stage
William Sheffer is credited with forming the first professional basketball league in 1898. It was called the Philadelphia League. Unfortunately, the small league died out within 5 years.
But a seed was planted, and the idea grew...
A short time later, the Eastern League came along which opened the door for a slew of new leagues to pop up between 1906 and 1929:
Hudson River League
New York State League
Western Pennsylvania League
Pennsylvania State League
Metropolitan Basketball League
American Basketball League
As hard as the leagues tried, most of them just couldn't attract the attention they needed to survive.
Can you imagine!
In 1924, they had an astounding record of 204-11. Needless to say, they got everyone's attention.
In 1925, George Preston Marshall formed the American Basketball League in an attempt to put some stability into the pro game.
The Celtics refused to join the new league, so the ABL prohibited any of its member teams to play them.
The Celtics were forced to join the league to survive, so the 1926-27 ABL season opened with 8 teams: Baltimore, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, Washington and Chicago.
The Celtics dominated the league for the first couple of years to the point that attendance at games started to decline. As a result, the team was broken up and players were dispersed to other teams. The league continued to flounder though and died at the end of the 1931 season.
But that's not the end of the story...