Timeline of Early Basketball Leagues
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ABL3: 1962-1963 (2 seasons)
League formed when disgruntled Harlem Globetrotters owner did not receive a Los Angeles NBA franchise.
NPBL: 1951-1951 (1 season)
League attempted to become as a successor league to the National Basketball League that folded a year earlier.
NBA: 1950-2020 (71 seasons)
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to become the NBA that still exists today.
BAA: 1947-1949 (3 seasons)
Brought basketball to major cities (unlike ABL/NBL) via vacant hockey arenas. Eventually merged with NBL to create NBA.
PBLA: 1948-1948 (1 season)
Owner of Champion Chicago Gears team pulled out of NBL to form his own league with star George Mikan.
NBL: 1938-1949 (12 seasons)
Formed as the official "professional" incarnation of the MBC. Eventually merged with the BAA to become the modern NBA.
MBC: 1936-1937 (2 seasons)
Teams arranged their own schedules under ruse as an “amateur” league. Later restructured as pro and became NBL.
ABL: 1934-1947 (14 seasons)
ABL returned by creating new league constructed of best teams from EBL2 and MBL2. Folded due to NBA dominance.
MBL2: 1932-1933 (2 seasons)
Based in New York, as the Great Depression and ABL1 collapse forced basketball into regional leagues.
NPBL2: 1933-1933 (1 season)
Based in the Midwest, as the Great Depression and ABL1 collapse forced basketball into regional leagues.
EBL2: 1929-1933 (5 seasons)
Originally a semi-pro league based in Philadelphia, the Great Depression and ABL1 collapse forced basketball into regional leagues.
TBL: 1931-1931 (1 season)
Based in the East, as the Great Depression and ABL1 collapse forced basketball into regional leagues.
NPBL1: 1930-1930 (1 season)
Based in Michigan/Ohio, as the Great Depression and ABL1 collapse forced basketball into regional leagues.
NBL2: 1927-1927 (1 season)
Signed independent Celtics to jumpstart league. ABL struck back, stealing the Celtics, effectively killing the new league.
ABL1: 1926-1931 (6 seasons)
Organized from independent pro teams. Celtics dominated, so league forced breakup, and strategy backfired.
MBL: 1922-1928 (7 seasons)
Formed from the strongest independent clubs in New York. Crumbled after several teams joined the ABL
PBL2: 1923-1925 (3 seasons)
Formed in attempt to compete with the MBL after demise of the Eastern (EBL) and Interstate (IBL) Leagues
CSL: 1918-1921 (4 seasons)
With most of the other leagues inactive due to World War I, the new circuit showcased many New York metropolitan area stars
IBL: 1916-1920 (5 seasons)
Formed when NYSL suspended operations for a year. By 1923, there were 4 pro basketball leagues, and the IBL could not compete.
PSL: 1915-1921 (7 seasons)
Formed when NYSL suspended operations for a year. In 1921, two franchises left for the EBL, and the PSL folded
NYSL: 1912-1924 (13 seasons)
Several teams left the HRL to form the NYSL. Eventually, players moved to the growing Metropolitan League.
EBL: 1910-1923 (14 seasons)
Rose from the ashes of the PBL. After many years as the premier pro league, eventually fell to the success of the MBL.
HRBL: 1910-1912 (3 seasons)
Tried to compete with established CBL. League president was not re-elected, so several teams withdrew to form NYSL.
CBL: 1907-1912 (6 seasons)
The most ambitious pro basketball organization prior to 1910. Eventually collapsed due to competition from the EBL and NYSL.
PBL: 1903-1909 (7 seasons)
Blossomed when the NBL folded. Eventually collapsed as the Central League offered higher player salaries.
NEL: 1902-1905 (4 seasons)
Formed by split of MSBL. Known as Massachusetts State League in 1902. Folded under high salaries being paid by PBL.
MCBL: 1902-1904 (3 seasons)
Formed by split of MSBL. Known as Western Massachusetts League in final year before teams moved to the NEL.
MSBL: 1899-1901 (3 seasons)
Consisted of teams in small towns within a 25 mile radius of Worcester. Later split into NEL and MCBL.
NBL1: 1899-1904 (6 seasons)
The first professional basketball league was centered in Philadelphia and stretched from NYC to Delaware.