The history of basketball began with its creation in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, by a Canadian P.E. instructor named James Naismith. The sport was created as a way for people to become physically active but be exposed to fewer risks of injury compared to American football. The sport soon became popular as the years progressed, spreading throughout the States and ultimately the world.
When the game was invented by Naismith, there were 13 original rules that the players had to abide by:
1. The ball is allowed to be thrown in any direction with either or both hands
2. The ball may be knocked away with either or both hands
3. A player is not allowed to run while in possession of the ball, and the ball must be thrown from the spot upon catching it. An exception is made for players whose momentum takes them forward several paces after catching the ball.
4. The ball must be held in either hand or between both hands. The arms and body are not to be used for holding.
5. No shouldering, pushing, tripping or hitting opponents is strictly forbidden. The first violation will be counted as a foul, and a second violation will disqualify the player until a goal is made. If a player committed this foul with the intention of causing injury, then the player is disqualified from the whole game without substitute.
6. A foul is striking the ball with a balled-fist.
7. If a team commits three consecutive fouls, then a point will be awarded to the opponents.
8. A goal is recorded when the ball is thrown or batted into the basket and remains there. If the ball is on the edge of the basket and an opposing player moves the basket then it will count as a goal.
9. When the ball is out of bounds, the ball should be thrown back into the field and played by the person who makes contact with the ball first. If there is a dispute regarding who touched the ball first, the umpire will throw the ball straight into the field. The person who is throwing the ball in is given five seconds to act before the ball is given to the opposing team. If both teams continue holding the ball with the intent of delaying the game then both teams will be given fouls.
10. The umpire judges the players and notes any violations. He is also to report to the referee when three consecutive fouls were made.
11. The referee will become judge of the ball and decide when it is in play, in bounds, and which side has possession of the ball, as well as act as timekeeper. The referee decides whether a goal is made and keeps account of how many goals were made.
12. Playing time is two 15-minute halves with a 5-minute break between halves.
13. The team with more goals is declared the winner. If a game ends in a draw, then both team captains can decide whether to continue to game until a team scores the next goal to decide the winner.
The first-ever game of basketball was a 9-on-9 game played between Naismith’s students. In the beginning, basketball was played with a peach basket and a soccer ball. A scored ball rested within the basket and had to be poked out using a stick.
The YMCA played a significant role in introducing the sport throughout North America and eventually the world. During World War I, Naismith spent two years with the YMCA in France. During the war, American troops would take the essentials and play basketball whenever possible.
The very first basketball professional league, called the National Basketball League, was founded in 1898 and consisted of six original teams, but was disbanded after only six years. Several other leagues were established but eventually fell apart after only a short period. However, between 1920 and 1939, three professional leagues were established (Eastern Basketball League, Metropolitan Basketball League, and American Basketball League) and are mainly responsible for shaping the way the game is played today.
Basketball became a tremendously popular sport in colleges all over the US. The first known college team to play was from Vanderbilt University and played against the local YMCA in 1983. The first recorded game between opposing college teams was a 9-on-9 match held in 1985. The match was between Hamline University and Minnesota A&M, with Minnesota winning 9-3.
Europe instantly took to basketball when it was introduced to the continent, but it wasn’t until 1932 that the first international organization when established. Argentina and several European countries formed the International Basketball Federation in Greece. This was the first stepping stone for the sport to become officially played in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
In 1946, the Basketball Association of America was established and became the largest North American basketball league. Three years later, they became the infamous NBA we know today. The American Basketball Association (ABA) was made in 1967 as an alternative to the NBA. The league is responsible for making the sport as exciting and lively as it is today with the implementation of colorful balls, play styles, and the 3-point shot. However, the ABA folded in 1976 and was absorbed by the NBA. Four of the ABA’s largest franchises (NY Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs) were incorporated into the NBA. After being acquired, the NBA soon continued the excitement-filled game style of the ABA and the 3-point shot.
Basketball has always been an American favorite, and apparently the world seems to agree that the game is worthy of praise. To date, there are multiple international leagues, numerous continental leagues, and competitive games are played at the high school and even junior high school levels. Although the rules of the game have been changed in order to suit the growing players (in the 1930s, the average height was 6-feet; today, it is 6-feet-7), most of the original 13 rules devised by Naismith persist until today.