The 1988–89 NBA season was the 43rd season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Detroit Pistons winning the NBA Championship, sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the first season of the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets.
* The NBA adopts the three-official system used in college basketball permanently. The league experimented with three officials per game in 1978–79, but went back to two officials per game for the next nine seasons, although they actually have three with the inclusion of an alternate referee for all playoff games and selected regular season games.
* The Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets become the league's 24th and 25th franchises.
* The Heat plays its inaugural season in the Midwest Division. As a result, the Sacramento Kings move to the Pacific Division.
* The 1989 NBA All-Star Game was played at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, with the West defeating the East 143–134. Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz takes home the game's MVP award.
* New Arenas: The Milwaukee Bucks move from the MECCA Arena to the then-Bradley Center (naming rights currently with BMO Harris Bank as of 2012), the Sacramento Kings move from ARCO Arena I to the then-ARCO Arena (later Power Balance Pavilion, now Sleep Train Arena), and the Detroit Pistons move from the Pontiac Silverdome to The Palace of Auburn Hills.
* Michael Jordan records ten triple-doubles in eleven games near the end of the season.
* Prior to the season, the first-year Hornets announce that they choose teal as their primary color, which gave them immediate attention. In the next decade, expansion teams in the other professional sports leagues (most notably the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, the Florida Marlins of Major League Baseball's NL, and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL) further popularized the use of the color. The Hornets also popularized the use of pinstripes on the uniforms, which were later adopted by the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls (alternates only), Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers and the current Charlotte Hornets' predecessor franchise, the Bobcats.
* The Chicago Bulls started a playoff tradition by wearing black sneakers. Prior to that, the Boston Celtics were the only team to wear black sneakers. Following the Bulls' unlikely playoff run, other teams began adopting the style, beginning with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1990.
* This was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's last season.
* The Los Angeles Lakers became the first team to sweep two consecutive best-of-seven series.
* The Celtics, who had never won fewer than 57 games in any of the previous nine seasons, slump to 42 as Larry Bird played only six games due to injuries.
* The Indiana Pacers had four different head coaches during the season, a rare occurrence that has not happened since.
* Seattle SuperSonics guard Dale Ellis won the All-Star game's 3-point shootout.
* The first postponement of an NBA game due to a civil disturbance. In the wake of the Miami riots, the game between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns on January 17, 1989, was postponed.
* Head coach Jerry Sloan begins the first season of 23 for the Utah Jazz, the longest tenure of any professional coach for one city and franchise.
* This was the only season for Ricky Berry, who was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 18th overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft, who committed suicide during the off-season.