The FIBA World Championships
The FIBA World Championships are held every four years. There is an equivalent event for women, although the women’s tournament is always held in a different country. National teams compete for the Naismith trophy.
The qualifying teams are initially split up into four different groups. The top four teams in each group are allowed to continue in the competition. These sixteen teams face another of the surviving teams (drawn at random) and the teams which lose their game are knocked out of the competition. Each subsequent round of the competition eliminates 50% of the remaining teams until only two teams are left, who will face each other in the Finals.
The Olympic Games
Basketball was first played as an Olympic sport at the Berlin games in 1936. Since 1976, the gold medal has been dominated by the United States, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. James Naismith lived to see his invention made an Olympic sport, and attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he presented the team representing the United States with the first gold medal awarded for basketball. Surprisingly perhaps, in light of the popularity of women’s basketball throughout the 20th Century, women’s basketball did not become an Olympic sport until 1976.
Teams do not automatically qualify for a place in the competition. Only the winners of the FIBA World Championships are guaranteed a place at the Olympics, while the teams which place between second and fourth must battle it out with other nations in a pre-Olympic tournament to secure a place at the Games. The Olympic competition usually takes place over a couple of weeks and follows a knock-out format very similar to the structure of the World Championship.
The FIBA European Championship
FIBA oversees this competition biannually. Seniors, juniors and under-16s play in separate competitions. England, Scotland and Wales present separate teams at the tournament.
Twelve teams qualify for the men’s and women’s Championships respectively. These teams then face a knock-out competition until only two teams remain, who compete for the title in the Final.
The NBA Play-offs
The NBA league splits the thirty teams which comprise it into the ‘Eastern Conference’ and the ‘Western Conference.’ Each team plays 82 games during the season: four games against each team in the same division; three or four games against teams in different divisions but the same conference; and twice against teams in the other conference. The play-offs take place in April each year. Eight teams from each conference qualify for the play-offs: the first three teams are the winners of each division and the other five spots are taken by the teams with the highest scores of those teams which have failed to win their division.
The NBA All-Star game
The NBA All-Star game is played in February every year. The game is played during a break from the normal NBA season and is played between the Eastern and Western conferences. The players are picked according to which players receive the most votes from fans in a ballot which encompasses basketball enthusiasts in the United States and Canada. Team coaches vote to fill the remaining 14 spaces on the squads. The game always has a large television audience in the U.S. and Canada, and is also shown in many other countries throughout the world.
The BBL Championship Playoffs
The BBL Championship Playoffs is the zenith of the British Basketball season. Each April, the eight most successful teams of the British Basketball League battle for the title of BBL Champions during Finals Weekend at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.