In early December 1891, a unique sport known as basketball was invented by the Canadian born Dr. James Naismith. He was also a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA), which is today known as Springfield College and located in Springfield, Massachusetts. In an effort to keep his students active on rainy days, Naismith created the vigorous indoor game to keep the young men occupied during the long New England winters. Legend has it that after rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, Dr. James Naismith wrote the basic rules of the game of basketball, in which he nailed a peach basket onto the ten-foot elevated track, creating the first basketball hoop. 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 NBA court. The name “Basket ball” was suggested by one of Naismith’s students and was popular from the beginning of its creation.
Basketball’s early adherents were dispatched to YMCAs throughout the United States, and it quickly spread through the country. Eventually, women’s basketball emerged and began in 1892 at Smith College when a physical education teacher named Senda Berenson modified the rules created by Dr. James Naismith to appeal specifically to women. By 1896, basketball was extremely widespread and also well-established at several women’s colleges. 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 vied for control over the rules for the game.
The first professional basketball league was formed in 1898, in which players earned $2.50 for home games and $1.25 for games on the road. Not quite 100 years later, Juwan Howard, a star player for the Washington Bullets (now called the Washington Wizards ) had competing offers of more than $100 million over seven seasons from the Bullets and the Miami Heat. Many teams in the National Basketball Association now have foreign players, who return home to represent their native countries during the Olympic Games. The famous “Dream Team”, made up of the top American professional basketball players, represented the United States in the Olympic Games during the 1990’s and is often referred to as the greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled. In 1996, the Dream Team trailed some opponents until fairly late in the games, an indication of basketball’s growing international status, but managed to bring the United States is second consecutive Gold Medal at the Olympic Games. In Athens in 2004, Argentina dethroned the three-time champion United States and took home the gold as the first time a Latin American country won the basketball honor.
THE HISTORY OF BASKETBALL TIME LINE:
1891 Basketball is invented by Dr. James Naismith, an instructor at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts.
1895 The backboard is introduced to prevent fans from interfering with play (baskets were often hung on balconies).
1898 The first professional league, the National Basketball League, is formed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
1908 The dribbler is permited to shoot the ball, and the NCAA eliminates the double dribble.
1914 NCAA, Amateur Athletic Union and YMCA rules are standardized.
1920 Players are allowed to re-enter the game.
1925 The first major professional league, the American Basketball Association is formed. (The ABL is the first league to sign players to exclusive contracts and it’s teams are located in many of the major cities in the country)
1930 Professional leagues eliminate the double dribble.
1931 The American Basketball League disbands.
1932 The midcourt line is introdued to eliminate stalling.
1937 The center jump ball after each score is eliminated.
1937 The National Basketball League is formed. (The Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings can all trace their heritage beck to the the NBL, and the league featured many future NBA stars such as George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Dolph Schayes, Bob Davies and Red Holzman)
1946 The Basketball Association of America, a forerunner of the NBA is formed. (Three of the league’s orginal 11 franchises are still playing today- the New York Knickerbockers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors)
1948 Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Rochester jump to the BAA from the NBL
1949 The BAA merges with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association.
1950 The NBA begins racial integration when Earl Loyd, Nat Clifton and Chuck Cooper join the league.
1954 The NBA introduces the shot clock to curtail stalling tactics.
1960 The Minneapolis become the first team to move to the West Coast as they become the Los Angeles Lakers
1961 The rival American Basketball League begins play and introduces the three-point shot.
1962 The ABL disbands
1967 A rival to the NBA, the American Basketball Association is formed. (The ABA would go on to develop some of the most exciting players in pro basketball, including Julius Erving, George Gervin, David Thompson, Connie Hawkins, Artis Gilmore, George McGinnis, Roger Brown and Moses Malone)
1976 The NBA expands to include the ABA’s surviving franchises. (the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs)
1992 Professional basketball players are allowed in the Olympics and the “Dream Team” (featuring Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson) is born.