Early basketball

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In early December 1891, Dr. James Naismith,[1] a Canadian physical education student and instructor at YMCA Training School[2] (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules
and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.05 m) elevated track. In
contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its
bottom, so balls scored into the basket had to be poked out with a long
each time. A soccer ball was used to shoot goals. Whenever a person got
the ball in the basket, they would give their team a point. Whichever
team got the most points won the game. [3



Naismith's handwritten diaries, discovered by his granddaughter in
early 2006, indicate that he was nervous about the new game he had
invented, which incorporated rules from a Canadian children's game
called "Duck on a Rock", as many had failed before it. Naismith called the new game 'Basket Ball'.[4]

The first official basketball game was played in the YMCA gymnasium on January 20, 1892 with nine players, on a court just half the size of a present-day National Basketball Association (NBA) court. "Basket ball", the name suggested by one of Naismith's students, was popular from the beginning.

Women's basketball began in 1892 at Smith College when Senda Berenson, a physical education teacher, modified Naismith's rules for women.


Basketball's early adherents were dispatched to YMCAs throughout the
United States, and it quickly spread through the USA and Canada. By
1895, it was well established at several women's high schools. While
the YMCA was responsible for initially developing and spreading the
game, within a decade it discouraged the new sport, as rough play and
rowdy crowds began to detract from the YMCA's primary mission. However,
other amateur sports clubs, colleges, and professional clubs quickly
filled the void. In the years before World War I, the Amateur Athletic Union and the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (forerunner of the NCAA) vied for control over the rules for the game.

Basketball was originally played with an association football ball. The first balls made specifically for basketball were brown, and it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle,
searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and
spectators alike, introduced the orange ball that is now in common use.

Dribbling was not part of the original game except for the "bounce
pass" to teammates. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball
movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the
asymmetric shape of early balls. Dribbling only became a major part of
the game around the 1950s as manufacturing improved the ball shape.

Basketball, netball, dodgeball, volleyball, and lacrosse are the only ball games which have been identified as being invented by North Americans. Other ball games, such as baseball and Canadian football, have Commonwealth of Nations, European, Asian or African connections.

Although there is no direct evidence as yet that the idea of basketball came from the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame, knowledge of that game had been available for at least 50 years prior to Naismith's creation in the writings of John Lloyd Stephens and Alexander von Humboldt. Stephen's works especially, which included drawings by Frederick Catherwood, were available at most educational institutions in the 19th century and also had wide popular circulation.


College basketball and early leagues

Naismith was instrumental in establishing college basketball. Naismith coached at University of Kansas for six years before handing the reins to renowned coach Phog Allen. Naismith's disciple Amos Alonzo Stagg brought basketball to the University of Chicago, while Adolph Rupp, a student of Naismith's at Kansas, enjoyed great success as coach at the University of Kentucky. In 1892, University of California
and Miss Head's School, played the first women's inter-institutional
game. Berenson's freshmen played the sophomore class in the first
women's collegiate basketball game at Smith College, March 21, 1893. The same year, Mount Holyoke and Sophie Newcomb College (coached by Clara Gregory Baer) women began playing basketball. By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesley, Vassar and Bryn Mawr. The first intercollegiate women's game was on April 4, 1896. Stanford women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2-1 Stanford victory. In 1901, colleges, including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, University of Minnesota, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Utah and Yale University began sponsoring men's games. By 1910, frequent injuries on the men's courts prompted President Roosevelt to suggest that college basketball form a governing body. And the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) was created.

Teams abounded throughout the 1920s. There were hundreds of men's professional basketball
teams in towns and cities all over the United States and little
organization of the professional game. Players jumped from team to team
and teams played in armories and smoky dance halls. Leagues came and
went. And barnstorming squads such as the Original Celtics and two all African American teams, the New York Renaissance Five ("Rens") and (still in existence as of 2006) the Harlem Globetrotters played up to two hundred games a year on their national tours. Women's basketball was more structured. In 1905, the National Women's Basketball Committee's Executive Committee on Basket Ball Rules was created by the American Physical Education Association. These rules called for six to nine players per team and 11 officials. The International Women's Sports Federation
(1924) included a women's basketball competition. 37 women's high
school varsity basketball or state tournaments were held by 1925. And
in 1926, the Amateur Athletic Union backed the first national women's basketball championship, complete with men's rules. The first women's AAU
All-America team was chosen in 1929. Women's industrial leagues sprang
up throughout the nation, producing famous athletes like Babe Didrikson of the Golden Cyclones and the All American Red Heads Team
who competed against men's teams, using men's rules. By 1938, the
women's national championship changed from a three-court game to two-court game with six players per team.
The first men's national championship tournament, the National
Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament, which still
exists as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament, was organized in 1937. The first national championship for NCAA teams, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York, was organized in 1938; the NCAA national tournament would begin one year later.

College basketball was rocked by gambling scandals from 1948 to 1951, when dozens of players from top teams were implicated in match fixing and point shaving. Partially spurred by an association with cheating, the NIT lost support to the NCAA tournament.


U.S. high school basketball

Before widespread school district consolidation, most United States high schools
were far smaller than their present day counterparts. During the first
decades of the 20th century, basketball quickly became the ideal
interscholastic sport due to its modest equipment and personnel
requirements. In the days before widespread television coverage of professional and college sports, the popularity of high school basketball was unrivaled in many parts of America.

Today virtually every high school in the United States fields a basketball team in varsity
competition. Basketball's popularity remains high, both in rural areas
where they carry the identification of the entire community, as well as
at some larger schools known for their basketball teams where many
players go on to participate at higher levels of competition after
graduation. In the 2003–04 season, 1,002,797 boys and girls represented
their schools in interscholastic basketball competition, according to
the National Federation of State High School Associations. The states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are particularly well known for their residents' devotion to high school basketball, commonly called Hoosier Hysteria in Indiana; the critically acclaimed film Hoosiers shows high school basketball's depth of meaning to these rural communities.

National Basketball Association

In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed,
organizing the top professional teams and leading to greater popularity
of the professional game. The first game was played in Toronto, Canada
between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers on November 1, 1946. Three seasons later, in 1949, the BAA became the National Basketball Association (NBA). An upstart organization, the American Basketball Association,
emerged in 1967 and briefly threatened the NBA's dominance until the
rival leagues merged in 1976. Today the NBA is the top professional
basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries,
talent, and level of competition.

The NBA has featured many famous players, including George Mikan, the first dominating "big man"; ball-handling wizard Bob Cousy and defensive genius Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics; Wilt Chamberlain, who originally played for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters; all-around stars Oscar Robertson and Jerry West; more recent big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone; playmaker John Stockton; crowd-pleasing forward Julius Erving; European stars Dirk Nowitzki and Drazen Petrovic and the three players who many credit with ushering the professional game to its highest level of popularity: Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

The NBA-backed Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) began 1997. Though it had an insecure opening season, several marquee players (Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Sue Bird among others) helped the league's popularity and level of competition. Other professional women's basketball leagues in the United States, such as the American Basketball League (1996-1998), have folded in part because of the popularity of the WNBA.

In 2001, the NBA formed a developmental league, the NBDL. The league currently has eight teams, but added seven more for the 2006-2007 season.


International basketball

XX. Olympic games Munich 1972 Krešimir Ćosić of Yugoslavia (blue shirt) vs. Petr Novicky of Czechoslovakia

The International Basketball Federation was formed in 1932 by eight founding nations: Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland.
At this time, the organization only oversaw amateur players. Its
acronym, in French, was thus FIBA; the "A" standing for amateur.

Basketball was first included in the Olympic Games
in 1936, although a demonstration tournament was held in 1904. This
competition has usually been dominated by the United States, whose team
has won all but three titles, the first loss in a controversial final
game in Munich in 1972 against the Soviet Union. In 1950 the first FIBA World Championship for men was held in Argentina. Three years later, the first FIBA World Championship for Women was held in Chile. Women's basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976, with teams such as Brazil and Australia rivaling the American squads.

FIBA dropped the distinction between amateur and professional
players in 1989, and in 1992, professional players played for the first
time in the Olympic Games. The United States' dominance continued with
the introduction of their Dream Team.
However, with developing programs elsewhere, other national teams
started to beat the United States. A team made entirely of NBA players
finished sixth in the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, behind Yugoslavia, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand and Spain. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States suffered its first Olympic loss while using professional players, falling to Puerto Rico (in a 19-point loss) and Lithuania in group games, and being eliminated in the semifinals by Argentina. It eventually won the bronze medal defeating Lithuania, finishing behind Argentina and Italy.

Worldwide, basketball tournaments are held for boys and girls of all
age levels. The global popularity of the sport is reflected in the
nationalities represented in the NBA. Players from all over the globe
can be found in NBA teams. Chicago Bulls star forward Luol Deng is from Great Britain; Steve Nash, who won the 2005 and 2006 NBA MVP award, is Canadian; Kobe Bryant is an American who spent much of his childhood in Italy; Dallas Mavericks superstar and 2007 NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki is German; All-Star Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies is from Spain; 2005 NBA Draft top overall pick Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks is Australian; 2006 NBA Draft top overall pick Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors is from Italy; Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming is from China; Cleveland Cavaliers big man Zydrunas Ilgauskas is Lithuanian; and the San Antonio Spurs feature Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Manu Ginobili of Argentina (like Chicago Bulls player Andrés Nocioni) and Tony Parker of France.
(Duncan competes for the United States internationally, as the Virgin
Islands did not field a basketball team for international competition
until well after Duncan started playing internationally, and all U.S.
Virgin Islands natives are United States citizens by birth.)

The all-tournament teams at the two most recent FIBA World Championships, held in 2002 in Indianapolis and 2006 in Japan, demonstrate the globalization of the game equally dramatically. Only one member of either team was American, namely Carmelo Anthony in 2006. The 2002 team featured Nowitzki, Ginobili, Peja Stojakovic of Yugoslavia (now of Serbia), Yao Ming of China, and Pero Cameron of New Zealand. Ginobili also made the 2006 team; the other members were Anthony, Gasol, his Spanish teammate Jorge Garbajosa and Theodoros Papaloukas of Greece.
The only players on either team to never have joined the NBA are
Cameron and Papaloukas. The only Japanese NBA player is Kenny Nakazawa.



  1. ^ The Greatest Canadian Invention.

  2. ^ Hoop Hall History Page.

  3. ^ James Naismith Biography (2007-02-14). Retrieved on 2007-02-14.

  4. ^ Newly found documents shed light on basketball's birth. ESPN.com. Associated Press (2006-11-13). Retrieved on 2007-01-11.

  5. ^ http://www.iwbf.org/

  6. ^ [1] Beachbasketball.com web site

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