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Here’s Why You Should Bet on Basketball

You shouldn’t need me to tell you why you should be betting on basketball, as the game needs no introduction. Basketball, you see, is a game which is loved worldwide. There is no doubt that the athletes are the coolest of any sport. In fact, basketball – and especially the NBA – just oozes class. When it comes to “doing sport,” the United States is pretty much head and shoulders above any other country in the world.

Well, sorry to drop the mother of all puns on you, but “heads and shoulders” is pretty apt here. Being pretty tall is quite helpful when it comes to shooting hoops, I get that. In fact, the average height of a player in the NBA is somewhere around 2.01m (6ft 7). When we consider that the average height of an American male is around 1.76m (5ft 9), it’s not difficult to see why some believe that the game of basketball is believed to be exclusive.

I disagree. I believe basketball to be one of the most inclusive games known to man. Think about it: the game is so accessible that all you need is a hoop and a ball to play. Granted, when it comes to playing college basketball, or in the NBA, you might need height to be in your favor, this isn’t always true. If you don’t believe me, just ask a man by the name of Muggsy Bogues to put your straight (ahem, 1.6m).

I have a lot to say about basketball. In fact, my girlfriend could probably tell you I watch more basketball than any other sport out there. I do tend to bet a lot on basketball, too, and this is what I would like to discuss with you fine people today. So, grab a drink, find your favorite spot on the couch, and lend me your ears (yes, your eyes will do just fine).

A Brief History of Basketball

Where do we start? The origins of basketball are pretty deep, after all. However, the popularity of the game in the United States is probably not as long lasting as you would believe. Oh, and I hate to break it to some of you, but the invention of basketball is credited to a gentleman named James Naismith. Mr. Naismith was Canadian, which means that one of our greatest games is, kind of, Canadian.

Of course, that does not matter. The inventor of basketball could have been from Jupiter and it would have not made the slightest difference. That is because it is our game now. Oh, and Mr. Naismith did identify as Canadian-American, which means basketball is kind of 50% our idea. The inventor of basketball was just 30 years old when he decided to kickstart the game of hoops, and I, for one, could not be any more grateful.

The Origins of Basketball

OK, so my team is the Boston Celtics. This is, in part, due to my Irish heritage. For the most part, however, it is because they are the greatest franchise in the history of the NBA. The history books prove it: the Celtics have won 17 titles in the history of the NBA. If you are wondering what this has to do with the origins of basketball, I don’t blame you for being confused.

You see, it just so happens that our beloved sport was invented in the home state of Boston Celtics, which is, of course, Massachusetts. James Naismith – who was a physical education instructor at the time – came up with the idea while trying to think of a sport that wouldn’t come with the same level of injuries as other sports. Shaun Livingston may have had a thing or two to say about that.

Naismith also wanted to help keep athletes in shape during the harsh, cold months. Nevertheless, the game of basketball was born. It became incredibly popular in colleges across America and pretty much spread like wildfire. As colleges continued to progress the game, pretty soon it would go professional. As with most sports invented in the U.S., colleges really helped to make it all happen.

With basketball, it was more than just colleges. The YMCA and the army also helped to spread the game around the world. However, it was post World War II that professional basketball would really gain traction.


The NBA is the pinnacle of basketball. The most awesome institution in all of sports? It has to be up there. After all, it has been around forever, right? Nope. Not by a long stretch. The NBA is not really as old and enduring as many believe it to be. Growing up on a steady diet of the world’s foremost basketball championship might make it feel older than it is, but the roots of the NBA are not that deep.

In fact, the NBA was born in 1949. That makes it younger than most of our grandparents and parents. It is pretty awesome to think that one of the most popular exports of the United States is so young. The NBA came about following a drawn-out battle between the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL). These rivals got together to create the National Basketball Association (NBA).

That might make things sound so matter of fact, but in all honesty, both associations were reluctant to merge. Put another way, they hated each other and did not want to share. Pretty much like me and my older brother when we found that magazine in the bushes on that hot, summer’s day in the 1990’s. I’ll keep tight-lipped about that one…

Much like fighting an older, stronger brother – for something –  the BAA did just that. Having been established in 1946, not long after the Second World War, all eyes were on usurping the NBL, that had been running since 1937. That being said, the latter was a smaller operation, with a modest grip in small cities in the Midwest. The BAA were playing their games in places like Madison Square Garden and had franchises. They were big.

While the BAA had the clout and the ambition, the MLB was kind of where it all started. Recognizing that both of these institutions could work with the other, a merger was agreed. In 1949, the NBA set out its stall. The rest, they say, is history.

Because of the Rivalries

What is a sport without rivalry? It is the extra hot sauce on your taco, the cherry on top of your sundae, the last beer in the cooler. Rivalries can really add that little bit extra when it comes to the sports we know and love. Think of Ali vs. Frazier, McGregor vs. Diaz, Celtic vs. Rangers, or the New England Patriots vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. This “hate” – manufactured or not – keeps fans interested.

When it comes to the NBA, you can bet your bottom dollar that basketball rivalries have taken the sport that one step higher. Watching the greatest players go head to head is one thing. Watching the greatest players square off – as part of rival franchises – is something else. This can really make betting on the NBA something very, very special. We want excitement when betting, after all.

Every NBA historian will undoubtedly be able to rattle off each aspect of the biggest rivalries in the history of the game. For everyone else, let’s take a look at the top 3, below:

3. Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Perhaps the greatest rivalry in the 2010’s, the Warriors vs. Cavaliers is one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the NBA. Yes, both teams have played each other for decades, it was back in the 2014-15 season where things started to get hot between both franchises. Given that two of the most important players in the history of the modern game were part of this rivalry, forgetting it will be difficult.

On one hand, you have one of the finest talents in NBA history, LeBron James, for the Cavaliers. And on the opposite side of the court, another of the finest ballers to have ever played, Steph Curry. What makes this rivalry even stranger is that Curry’s father was a member of the Cavaliers, but that is a story for another day. For now, we will focus on the rivalry that began back in 2014.

Simply put, both teams engaged in four consecutive Finals. This was a big deal, considering that no two teams had ever played in more than two Finals. Nevertheless, the Warriors and the Cavaliers went on to enjoy (maybe not the right choice of word) a fiery rivalry. The former won three championships as a result of the rivalry (2015, 2017, and 2018) while the Cavaliers got their taste in 2016.

2. Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs

We can’t talk about NBA rivalry without mentioning the Lakers and Spurs. Given that both teams have met in the playoffs a serious amount of times since the early eighties – and that one of the teams held it up in the Finals for the Western Conference in 11 out of 12 consecutive seasons – there is history here. A lot of history, in fact, and more than most franchise rivalries can even come close to.

If Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers had Stephen Curry and LeBron James, then the Lakers-Spurs will always be remembered for Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Boy, did these guys rub each other up the wrong way? Both men were often compared with each other, with one of the main reasons for their comparison coming down to their intense rivalry.

It is truly a matter of opinion when it comes to choosing between who was the better player. What is not up for debate is that Lakers-Spurs is one of the true and defining rivalries that has ever gone down in the history of the NBA.

1. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

It was never going to be anything else. Even casual fans – and those across the world with a minor interest in basketball – know that the Celtics-Lakers rivalry is the most important in the NBA. It is the GOAT of all rivalries, and perhaps the greatest rivalry in American sports. I would even go as far to say as it is one of the greatest rivalries of any sport on the face of the Earth.

The green of the Celtics and Yellow of the Lakers just… clashes. However, it is more than the visual stimuli that makes this contest an explosive encounter, regardless of the time or age. These teams have contested a ridiculous number of Finals and have seen some of the greatest games ever witnessed in the NBA. There is no period that defines the Celtics-Lakers beef quite like the golden age of the 1980’s, however.

Back then, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson – two of the greatest figures in basketball history – would slug it out for dominance. Decades later, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant would reignite the war, making for one of the defining seasons of Bryant in 2010. A ridiculously beautiful yet ugly rivalry that will continue as long as we have the game of basketball. Just imagine how many bets were placed on this game over the years.

Because the Rules Are Easy to Understand

Understanding the rules of any sport is crucial to be able to profit from bets on that sport. Luckily, basketball rules are far from difficult to understand. Those of us who played in school, after school, or just on the small courts in our neighborhoods will understand the rules of basketball at a young age. Well, most of those rules will have been abided by, at least.

Who knows what could go own on a Saturday morning when 10 friends get together. What I know for sure is that organized basketball games, such as any in the NBA, will be a tad stricter. As betting enthusiasts with an interest in NBA or college basketball will tell you, knowing the rules of engagement are crucial. If you don’t know what can go down during a game, how can you call what might happen?

Luckily, basketball rules are very easy to get acquainted with. It should not take long at all to learn the rules of the game and this is a great thing for novice bettors.

Because the NBA Breeds Greatness

And by greatness, I mean gold statue greatness. I mean own brand of sneaker famous. These guys appear in Hollywood movies, have actress girlfriends and wives, and are pretty much known on every continent there is on Earth. This type of greatness is eternal and timeless, inspiring the next crop of talent to imitate their every move and nuance. The greats have it all.

Of course, you can take away all of the glitz and glamor and what you would be left with is the pure essence. If you took these guys away from everything – and just put them on a court with a ball and a hoop – that God-given talent and exceptional work ethic would shine through.

Who was the greatest of them all? This one may cause a stir, so I had better tread carefully. Let’s take a look at 5 of the greatest NBA players of all time, in no particular order. Does this list have anything to do with me being a Celtics fan? I would like to say no; it has everything to do with me being a basketball fan.

5. Larry Bird

Larry Bird NBA Legend
The legend of Larry Bird is enough to make the heart sing of any fan of the NBA’s greatest franchise, the Celtics. However, Bird is quite a unique player on this list, in my opinion. While he was not as physically gifted as others on this list, he had incredible vision, the presence of mind most players would kill for, and a profound influence on any game he played in.

With 3 NBA Championships, 3 regular season MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs, and 10 All-NBA teams, it is safe to say that Bird had one hell of a career.

4. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson NBA Legend
Basketball fans will often lament the fact that Johnson retired early. “If Magic had not retired early” my friend Paul once asked me, “he would have been the greatest, right?” Who knows? I don’t believe anyone would have come close to who many fans believe to be the two standout greats of the game. That being said, Johnson was an incredible player to watch, even if he was a Laker.

Johnson’s 5 NBA Championships and 10 All-NBA selections highlight just why this guy was such a wizard on the court.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Bill Russell

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Bill Russell
OK, so I’ve made the mistake of the century here. I just can’t separate Kareem and Bill. Both of these men were just incredible at what they did but were contrasting in terms of what they did. Kareem’s averages are simply stunning. He won 6 NBA Championships, held the all-time leading scorer in NBA record, had 15 All-NBA selections and 19 All-Star appearances.

Then, there is Bill. The greatest defender in the history of the game. Russell has 11 NBA Championships and 5 MVPs to his name. That’s regular season MVPs, as finals MVPs weren’t considered. If Bill Russell was playing in modern times, there is definitely a chance that he would be rated much higher. Who knows?

2. LeBron James

LeBron James NBA
The man who has it all is a candidate for the greatest to have ever done it. His legendary moment came when he rallied the Cavaliers back from 3-1 down. There are many basketball enthusiasts who point to James’ incredible physique, technique, skill, IQ, and overall package in the breath as claiming he is the GOAT…

1.  Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan NBA Legend
But can anyone really argue with MJ being the greatest of all time? I don’t think so.

Because of the Awesome Bets in the NBA

When I am a little stressed, or things just aren’t going my way, I can go to my happy place. My happy place is when I have my feet up, with a cool drink in my hand, watching the games. I can relax with a smile on my face as two teams duke it out to win me some money, even if they have no idea who I am or what bets I have placed. A little slice of heaven, especially when everything goes right for me.

I find betting on basketball to be a lot of fun. I find some bets straightforward, while others require a little more thought. It can be the game that makes the bets, and vice versa. That’s why you will often find your most exciting bets are on the bigger games. In terms of the types of bets you want to use in your betting strategy, you can find the basics, below.

Types of Bets

There are a number of bets that are particularly popular among bettors. For example:

Moneyline: The easiest bet of them all. You simply chose the team you think will win and place your wager. There will typically be a favorite and an underdog. The favorite will come with shorter odds while the underdog will make you more of a profit if they win.

Point Spread Bets: This bet is more popular among seasoned basketball betting enthusiasts. The bookmakers will apply a points spread for the purpose of making the odds a little closer. This means that the favorites will start with a disadvantage (for example, -7 points) while the underdogs start with an advantage (for example, +7 points).

If you choose the favorites – and they win by more than 7 (per the example) – your bet is successful. If you choose the underdogs – and they lose by less than 7 – you win your bet (as per the example). Point spread betting is a great way to bet on basketball, giving fans a choice between two bets which are usually close enough to even money.

Over/Unders: Bookmakers offer bets on how many points you believe will be scored in the game. The most popular way to bet on points scored in a game is to bet on over or under the total that the bookmakers have set. For example, if the total points are set at 185.5, you have the choice to bet that the total score will be under this or over. Both bets are typically close to – if not – even money.

First Half/Second Half: This is certainly a type of bet that is becoming even more popular these days. The second half of a game does tend to have more drama, more fouls, and can see even the most composed player lose their focus. Fatigue can kick in and injuries can happen, which has led to many betting enthusiasts favoring to place their wagers on the first half of a game, or even just the second. It’s up to you.

Prop Bets: There is a multitude of prop bets you can place, from how many 3-pointers will be scored to how many assists a particular player makes. These types of bets can really add some extra spice to the game!

The Takeaway

Basketball is just one of those games that is appealing on so many levels. It is also one of the finest sports to bet on, due to the fact that it is an easy game to understand. Basketball is also an incredible spectacle, featuring the greatest athletes in the world. Despite having such a short history, pro basketball has produced a number of legendary franchises, teams, and players.

It is a more intimate game than football, for example, which means a novice spectator can become an expert in almost no time. Well, that’s what many of the so-called experts I know seem to think! This type of passion is what drives the game, make no mistake about it. From a betting perspective, there is no doubt that it also helps to make it what it is today.

When it comes to betting on basketball, there are a number of ways to do so. I would always suggest brushing up on your understanding of the sport and to watch as much college basketball and NBA as possible. Oh, and if you’re looking for a franchise to support, it just has to be Boston Celtics.

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