Category Archives: Basketball History


History of Basketball

The games that are thought to have been invented in North America are dodge ball (a game in which the players form a circle and try to hit opponents in the circle with a large ball), net ball, volley ball, lacrosse and basketball.

naismith_cc_img1Basketball owes its existence to James Naismith, who is believed to have borrowed the idea from the game, popular at that time, called “duck-on-rock”. The game involved tossing a rock at another one, in order to knock the “duck” off it. James Naismith was working as a P.E. instructor at McGill University and Sprinngfield College in Massachusets (which at that time was also a training school for YMCA), when he had the idea of creating a physical activity, that would involve as many students as possible, would not be based on mere physical strength, and would fill the winter gap between football and baseball. The game was, therefore, intended for indoors. This was supposed to be a game based primarily on skills and quick evaluation of different situations, rather than just sweating and running. In 1892, the School for Christian Workers became the first place where it was played.


The first equipment used was quite simple: two baskets and a soccer ball, plus a list of 13 hand-written rules that were supposed to regulate the game. Of course, that remotely resembled the basketball we know today, as dribbling was yet unknown: the players just passed the ball to one another, trying to put it into the basket. If the attempt was successful, a point was scored; the next thing was manually getting the ball out of the basket, which was done by climbing a ladder. It took time and was not as spectacular as the basketball games are today. However, that was a great way for young men full of energy to compete and keep in physical shape, so it definitely served the purpose.

The next day the list with rules was gone, but very soon one of James Naismith’s students, Frank Mahon, confessed “committing the crime”, and handed back the list of rules, saying the game would soon become very popular. His words appeared to be prophetic.

Naismith witnessed basketball spread all over the world with amazing speed; it was largely due to the movement of YMCA in the end of the 19th century. Another branch of this sport – women’s basketball started with the rules of Naismith adjusted for women by another P.E. teacher, Senda Berenson, in 1892; she also organized the first official college game in March, 1893. Naismith went on to coach basketball at the University of Kansas; his disciples were spreading the game throughout the United States.

It wasn’t until 1893, that hoops made of iron an a hammock-kind basket became part of the game. However, even these had bottoms, so painful process of retrieving the ball by climbing up to the hoop continued. It took the net another decade to lose the bottom, allowing the ball to fall back without manual assistance.

Basketball was first demonstrated to the rest of the world during the 1904 Olympic Games, and 34 years later was included in its official program. It was only natural that the US was the winner of all the competitions, except for the three times when they had to yield the palm to the USSR (1972, Munich and 1988, Seoul) and the Combined Team of Yugoslavia in 1980, during the Olympic Games in Moscow.

Several decades later, basketball became a typical sport in every college, which made its success even more obvious. The interest to the professionally-played game was increasing with each year.

FIBA (Fedration Internationale de Basketball Amateur) was founded in 1932 by Argentina, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Latvia and Czechoslovakia, becoming the first and the only international basketball organization.

In 1946, the best professional male basketball teams were organized under the Basketball Association of America, which boosted the game’s popularity among the spectators. In three years, BAA changed its name to NBA (National Basketball Association), and that’s how it has been known ever since. In 1967 another league (the American Basketball Association) was established, becoming a real rival to the NBA; the leagues merged 9 years later. Female basketball professional organization followed many years later, in 1997, when Women’s National Basketball Association appeared; it received full support of NBA.

The orange color of the basketball was introduced only in the 1950s, making it a lot easier for the spectators and players to see the ball; it was dark-brown before that. As the ball was still slightly asymmetric, introduction of dribbling, as the only legal way to guide the ball, became possible only with the improvement of manufacturing process.

There are many variations of this game, which take the concept, skills and equipment (the ball, the basket), adjusting the rules to the conditions. There is wheelchair basketball, which became popular with disabled people, after it had been created by the veterans of the Second World War. Water basketball is a game that joins both basketball and water polo rules and concepts. Beach basketball requires a circle-shaped court and a goal; this game is played by making passes, as the only legal way of dribbling, accepted in basketball, is not possible due to the specific surface. Another variation, called one-on-one, involves two players competing with each other, which emphasizes individual skills over team play and shooting from bigger distance.Trivia

1. The score of the first basketball game in 1892 was 1:0

2. The diary of James Naismith was discovered in 2006 by his own granddaughter. According to her, he was then very anxious about the game being widely accepted, because of the numerous previous attempts that failed.

3. The most popular male basketball teams are Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers

4. The total revenue of all the teams in NBA is over $3,43 billion ? year

5. James Naismith is an honorary member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame) from 1959. Apart from the founder of basketball, the Hall of Fame features the most outstanding players, coaches and other people who made the fast development of basketball possible.