The 2009–10 NBA season was the 64th season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The 1,230-game regular season (82 games for each of the 30 teams) began on Tuesday, October 27, 2009, and ended on Wednesday, April 14, 2010.
For the second time in NBA history, all eight Western Conference playoff teams won at least 50 games, and only 7 wins separated the Western Conference #1 seed from #8 seed. Both of these events first occurred in 2008.
Cleveland's league-leading 61 wins was the lowest win total to lead the league since the Indiana Pacers won 61 games in 2003–04.
The New Jersey Nets became the fifth team in NBA history to lose 70 games in a season.
On April 23, the Sacramento Kings fired interim head coach Kenny Natt and four assistant coaches after the Kings finished with a season-low 17 wins.
On May 11, the Philadelphia 76ers' interim head coach Tony DiLeo decided to withdraw his name from consideration as head coach for the 2009–10 season, citing family concerns. DiLeo retains his old position as the Assistant General Manager and Senior Vice President.
On December 1, the New Jersey Nets appointed general manager Kiki Vandeweghe as an interim head coach, replacing Tom Barrise who coached the team for two games after Lawrence Frank was fired.
On February 4, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy stepped down from coaching duties. He retained his position as the team's general manager (he was fired on March 9). Assistant coach Kim Hughes replaced him as head coach on interim basis.
On July 7, 2009, the NBA announced that the salary cap for the 2009–10 season would be $57.70 million and would go into effect on July 8.
On September 1, 2009, the five-year contract between the NBA and its referees expired. Both parties had failed to negotiate a new contract by the start of the pre-season, resulting in a lockout by the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) starting on September 18.
On September 5, 2009, three-time NBA Champion Bruce Bowen retired after 12 seasons in the NBA, at the age of 38.
On September 24, 2009, Mikhail Prokhorov, who at the time was Russia's richest man according to Forbes magazine, reached a deal to become the majority owner of the New Jersey Nets and to fund nearly half the cost of building the Nets' new arena.
On September 30, 2009, the NBA issued a policy regarding Twitter and other social media sites, banning players, coaches and other team basketball operations personnel from using them during games.
On October 2, the NBA Board of Governors approved the expanded use of instant replay starting this season to determine whether a 24-second shot clock violation occurred during a play, and to determine during the last two minutes of regulation play or any overtime period which player last touched the ball prior to it going out-of-bounds.
On January 6, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely, pending further investigation of his admission of bringing guns to the Wizards' locker room. Reports said that Arenas brought his gun because of a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt. Arenas was later charged with carrying a gun without a license and pleaded guilty to the charge.
On January 27, the NBA suspended Washington Wizards guards Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for the rest of the season. Both Arenas and Crittenton brought guns into the team's locker room at Verizon Center, a violation of both the league's constitution and of the city's laws requiring any guns in the city be licensed in Washington and kept in the home. A few days earlier, Crittenton was also charged with, and pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor count of possession of an unregistered firearm.
On April 12, the New Jersey Nets played their final game at the Izod Center, a 105–95 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Nets, who have played at the Izod Center since 1981, would move to the Prudential Center for the next two seasons before finally moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in 2012.
November 14: Milwaukee Bucks franchise record. Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings scored 55 points bettering the Bucks rookie scoring record previously set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on February 21, 1970, by four points. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to score more than 50 points in a game. He fell just two points short of the franchise scoring record set by Michael Redd on November 11, 2006. He also fell just three points short of the NBA record for points by a rookie set twice in 1960 by Wilt Chamberlain.
January 2: League record. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James became the youngest player to score 14,000 career points.
January 3: Toronto Raptors franchise record. Forward Chris Bosh became the leading scorer in Raptors' franchise history, surpassing Vince Carter's previous franchise record of 9,420 points. Bosh scored 22 points on the night to bring his franchise point total to 9,428 points.
January 21: League record. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant became the youngest player to score 25,000 career points.
February 1: Los Angeles Lakers franchise record. Guard Kobe Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers' franchise history, surpassing Jerry West's previous franchise record of 25,192 points. Bryant scored 44 points on the night to bring his franchise point total to 25,208 points, 14th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
March 5: Cleveland Cavaliers franchise record. Forward LeBron James became the franchise's all-time leader in minutes played with 21,573 in the Cavaliers' game against the Detroit Pistons, surpassing previous franchise leader Žydrūnas Ilgauskas.
March 12: Oklahoma City Thunder franchise record. Forward Kevin Durant had his 36th game with 30 or more points this season, breaking the franchise record set by Spencer Haywood in the 1972–73 season.
March 17: Toronto Raptors franchise record. Forward Chris Bosh becomes the first Raptor to score 10,000 points.
April 14: League record. Kevin Durant became the youngest scoring leader at the age of 21. Durant, who averaged 30.1 points per game, surpassed Max Zaslofsky who was the scoring leader in the 1947–48 BAA at the age of 22.
April 14: League record. Dwight Howard led the league in both rebounding and blocked shots. He became the only player to lead the league in blocks and rebounding in the same season twice, which he did consecutively.
December 2: Worst winless start of season. The New Jersey Nets lost to extend their losing streak to 18 since the start of the season. This set the record for the NBA's all-time worst winless start. The Nets broke the old record of 17 games, previously held by both the 1988–89 Miami Heat, who were in their first season, and the 1998–99Los Angeles Clippers, who were resuming play after a league-wide lockout.
December 21: Largest deficit overcome. The Sacramento Kings overcame a 35-point deficit to defeat the Chicago Bulls. This was the second largest deficit overcome in NBA history. The score was Sacramento 44, Chicago 79 with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter, whereupon the Kings rallied with a 58–19 run for the remainder of the game to win in regulation time. The final score was Sacramento 102, Chicago 98. The NBA record for this feat took place on November 27, 1996, when the Utah Jazz overcame a 36-point deficit to defeat the Denver Nuggets in regulation by a final score of Utah 107, Denver 103. The Jazz achieved this feat as the home team, while the Kings achieved it as the visiting team.
December 23: Fewest points scored in overtime. The Sacramento Kings failed to score in the overtime period in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming the ninth team in NBA history to score zero points in overtime.
January 13: First franchise to 3,000 wins. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks at Dallas to record the three thousandth regular season victory in franchise history. In the process, the Lakers became the first franchise in NBA history to win three thousand games.
January 23: Worst 3-win start of season. The New Jersey Nets became the third team in NBA history to lose 40 of its first 43 games, tying the 1993–94 Dallas Mavericks and 1997–98 Denver Nuggets for the worst start to a season with three wins.
January 24: Largest win in franchise history. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New York Knicks 128–78 at New York. The 50-point deficit is the Mavericks largest win in franchise history. For the Knicks, it was the worst home loss and the second worst loss in franchise history.
January 29: First team to win five consecutive games over opponents over .500 on the road. The Chicago Bulls became the first team in NBA history to win five consecutive games over opponents over .500 on the road.
January 31: Most three-point field goals in a quarter. The Cleveland Cavaliers made eleven three-point shots in the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. This tied the NBA record set by the Milwaukee Bucks against the Phoenix Suns on March 28, 2006.
February 6: Worst 50-game start of season. The New Jersey Nets became the third team in NBA history to lose 46 of its first 50 games, joining the 1972–73Philadelphia 76ers and 1992–93 Dallas Mavericks.
March 6: Most three-point field goal attempt without making one. The New York Knicks attempted 18 three-point shots without making one in a game against the New Jersey Nets. This surpassed the previous league record of 16 set by the Washington Wizards on November 2, 2007.
March 22: Worst 70-game start of season. The New Jersey Nets became the second team in NBA history to lose 63 of its first 70 games, joining the 1992–93 Dallas Mavericks.
April 14: Most three-point field goal made in a season. The Orlando Magic broke the record for most three-point field goals made in a season when Vince Carter scored the Magic's eight three-pointer in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers to surpass the previous record of 837 three-point field goals held by the Phoenix Suns in 2005–06. The Magic scored 11 three-point field goal in the game to bring their season total to 841.
Denver finished ahead of Utah and became the Northwest Division winner by virtue of winning their regular season series 3–1.
Portland finished ahead of San Antonio and Oklahoma City while San Antonio finished ahead of Oklahoma City by virtue of better winning records among the teams tied (Portland had a 6–1 record against the tied teams, San Antonio had a 3–4 record and Oklahoma City had a 2–6 record).
z – clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
c – clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.
On July 7, 2009, the NBA announced that the salary cap for the 2009–10 season would be $57.70 million and would go into effect on July 8 as the league's "moratorium period" had ended and teams could begin signing free agents and making trades. The tax level for the season was set at $69.92 million, with each team paying a $1 tax for each $1 by which it exceeds $69.92 million. The mid-level exception was $5.854 million for the season and the minimum team salary, which was set at 75% of the salary cap, was $43.275 million.
For the 2008–09 season, the salary cap was set at $58.68 million ($0.98 million), while the tax level was $71.15 million ($1.23 million). Although the league-wide revenue increased by 2.5% in the previous season, the decrease in the salary cap and tax level was the result of the formula used to set the cap and tax under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
The 2009–10 NBA season was broadcast in the United States by ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. A number of games were nationally televised by ABC, ESPN and TNT, while some games were televised by NBA TV. Four teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets and Charlotte Bobcats had not have any national TV appearances on ABC, ESPN and TNT. ABC had air several Sunday games and a double-header on Christmas day. ESPN has mainly televised the regular season games on Wednesdays and Fridays, while TNT has mainly televised the Thursday games. TNT has also broadcast the 2010 NBA All-Star Game and the NBA All-Star Saturday Night Events in February.
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