Soon, the NBL faced a rival league. The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was established in 1946. The BAA was largely located in major eastern cities and most BAA franchise owners also owned hockey teams. They sought to move into basketball to keep their arenas filled on nights when the hockey team was on the road.

But a paradox emerged. The BAA possessed large arenas in major markets. The NBL, however, had the top star players of the game. The solution was clear. The BAA lured four NBL franchises to its league for the 1948-49 season, including the Royals.

Finally, the two leagues agreed to a merger. The resulting National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded on August 3, 1949.

With the merger, the two leagues combined their strengths, putting big stars in front of audiences in larger venues. The old NBL teams dominated the new NBA. The first six NBA championship titles were claimed by three former NBL teams—the Minneapolis (now L.A.) Lakers, the Syracuse Nationals (now Philadelphia ‘76ers), and the Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings).

The Royals won the NBA title in the 1950-51 season. The deciding Game 7 was played at home, in Rochester, on 21 April 1951, and the Royals beat the Knicks by four points, 79-75, to claim the series. This remains the only NBA title in franchise history.

The NBA achieved the milestones of major league legitimacy—including permanent racial integration in 1950, its first national television contract in 1952, and the introduction of the 24-second shot clock to speed up play in 1954—with national coverages of teams in large markets with high athletic quality.