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History of basketball

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History of basketball

History of basketball

In early December 1891, Luther Gulick, chairman of the physical education

department at the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College) in

Springfield, Massachusetts, instructed physical education teacher James

Naismith to invent a new game to entertain the school’s athletes during the

winter season. With an ordinary soccer ball, Naismith assembled his class

of 18 young men, appointed captains of two nine-player teams, and

introduced them to the game of Basket Ball (then two words). Naismith, who

had outlined 13 original rules, dispatched the school jjanitor to find two

boxes to be fastened to the balcony railing at opposite sides of the

gymnasium, where they would serve as goals. The school janitor, however,

only found two half-bushel peach baskets, and the game was played with


The soccer ball and the peach basket soon gave way to specialized

equipment. For example, in the early days the peach baskets were closed at

the bottom, meaning that someone had to climb on a ladder to retrieve the

ball after a made basket. The peach basket wwas later replaced by a metal

rim with a net hanging below, and in 1906 people began opening the netting

to let the ball fall through. Check out the other sport, Baseball, at a

site known for tons of information about the game, MMLB Schedule.The first

basketballs were made from panels of leather stitched together with a

rubber bladder inside. A cloth lining was added to the leather for support

and uniformity. The molded basketball, introduced in about 1942, was a

significant advancement for the sport. The molded ball, a factory-made ball

that had a constant size and shape, offered better reaction and durability,

making play more consistent and the development of individual skills

easier. In Naismith’s original 13 rules, the ball could be batted in any

direction with one or both hands, but it could not be dribbled because

players could not move with the ball. Beginning in 1910 a player could

dribble the ball, but could not shoot after dribbling. It was not until

1916, following heated debate, that players were allowed tto shoot after


Throughout basketball’s history, no part of the game has been more

monitored than the act of fouling an opponent. In basketball’s early days,

a player’s second foul would mean removal from the game until the next

field goal was made. If a team committed three consecutive fouls, the

opposition would be awarded a field goal. Beginning in 1894 players were

given a free throw when fouled. Beginning in 1908 players who committed

five fouls were disqualified from the game. Based on the severity of tthe

foul, the rules were soon amended so that players were awarded either two

shots or one shot plus a bonus shot, which was attempted only if the first

shot was made. The rules also determined that an offensive player could

commit a foul by playing too aggressively.

In 1892 Lithuanian-born physical education teacher Senda Berenson Abbott

introduced basketball to women, at Smith College in Northampton,

Massachusetts. Because it was believed that Naismith’s version of the game

could be too physically demanding for women, Berenson Abbott made the

following changes to the game: The court was divided into three equal

sections, with players required to stay in an assigned area; players were

prohibited from snatching or batting the ball from the hands of another

player; and players were prohibited from holding the ball for longer than

three seconds and from dribbling the ball more than three times.

Basketball’s growth spread in the United States and abroad through Young

Men’s Christian Associations (YMCAs), the armed forces, and colleges. Due

to its simple equipment requirements, indoor play, competitiveness, and

easily understood rules, basketball gained popularity quickly. In May 1901

several schools, including Yale and Harvard universities and Trinity, Holy

Cross, Amherst, and Williams colleges, formed the New England

Intercollegiate Basketball League. The development of collegiate leagues

and conferences brought organization and scheduling to ccompetition, and

formal league play created rivalries. More importantly, collegiate leagues

became a critical training ground for officials.

By the early 1900s basketball was played at about 90 colleges—most of them

located in the East and Midwest. In 1905 teams from the University of

Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin traveled to New York to challenge

Eastern League champion Columbia University. Columbia’s “Blue and White

Five” defeated both Midwestern teams, and the idea of an intercollegiate

championship was born. By 1914 more than 360 colleges offered basketball,

and the sport had spread heavily into the Midwestern states.

In 1915 the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU), the NCAA,

and the YMCA formed a committee to standardize rules, and during the next

ten years a number of regional conferences were formed. Games between top

regional teams were sometimes awarded national champion status by the

press, but an official championship tournament was still many years away.

Travel and scheduling difficulties and continued regional rule differences

slowed the organization of a tournament that could impartially produce a

national champion.

The first national collegiate tournament was held in Kansas City, Missouri,

in 1937. The teams in this tournament, however, were all from the Midwest.

New York, with a large fan base that generated travel funds, was the site

of the NIT tournament, which wwas the first truly national collegiate

tournament. The first NIT was held at the end of the 1937-38 season.

The NIT was promoted by members of the Metropolitan Basketball Writers

Association—a New York City sportswriters’ group. In 1939 a group of

coaches from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), fearing

Eastern bias, organized and sponsored the first NCAA national tournament.

In this tournament the University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University.

The NCAA took sole control of the organization of its tournament after that

first year. For the next decade, the NCAA and NIT tournaments competed to

become the universally recognized national championship tournament, with

the NCAA eventually winning out.

The NCAA tournament’s original format, used for its first 12 years, divided

the country into eight districts, each with a regional selection committee

sending a team to the eight-team tournament. As the tournament gained

importance, the field gradually enlarged to its present size of 64, made up

of champions from a number of conferences, in addition to other successful


Professional basketball began in 1896 at a YMCA in Trenton, New Jersey. A

dispute between members of the YMCA team and a YMCA official led to the

players forming a professional team and playing for money. In 1898 a group

of New Jersey newspaper sports editors founded the National


League (NBL). The NBL consisted of six franchises from Pennsylvania and New

Jersey. Stars of this league included Ed Wachter, who played in about 1,800

professional games, and Barney Sedran, who played on 10 championship teams

in 15 years.

The Buffalo Germans, a team that won 111 straight games between 1908 and

1911, and the Original Celtics, a team that pioneered many tactics in

basketball, including the development of the zone defense, were

extraordinarily successful professional teams in the early 20th century.

The first successful national professional league wwas the American

Basketball League (ABL), which lasted from 1925 to 1931. The New York

Renaissance, a team made up of black players, dominated the 1930s. The

Rens, as the team was called, were the best team of the era, winning 88

consecutive games during one stretch. Another all-black team with similar

success was the Harlem Globetrotters. The Globetrotters were founded in

1927 as a competitive team, but through the years they became known for

their basketball acrobatics and humorous routines.

Although most basketball players were men, 37 sstates offered high school

varsity basketball for women by 1925, and in 1926 the AAU formed a national

tournament for women’s teams. This enabled women to showcase their

basketball skills after scholastic play was finished, and ...

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