Basketball’s come a long way since the first game over a hundred years ago. What started as a simple game with peach baskets and a soccer ball has now evolved into a global phenomenon, captivating millions of fans and players worldwide.
From the early days in middle America to courts everywhere basketball has grown into one of the most popular sports in the world.
Invention of Basketball
Basketball was invented by physical education instructor, James Naismith in December 1891 as a game to keep his students at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, active during the winter months.
Naismith came up with the game by combining elements of other popular sports, such as soccer and lacrosse, with a focus on teamwork and strategy.
The first basketball game was played on December 21, 1891, using a soccer ball and two peach baskets as goals, which were later replaced with metal hoops with backboards.
The 13 Original Rules of Basketball
- The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
- A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, with allowance to be made for a man running at a good speed.
- The hands must hold the ball. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
- No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking, or tripping in any way of an opponent. Any person’s first infringement of this rule shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole game. No substitution shall be allowed.
- A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
- If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
- A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
- When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.
- The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
- The referee shall be the judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the goals, with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
- The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.
From that first game basketball quickly gained popularity and spread throughout the United States, leading to the creation of organized leagues, school teams, and competitions less than four years later.
The first collegiate basketball game was played between Hamline University and the School of Agriculture in 1895 and the first professional league, the National Basketball League (NBL), was formed in 1898.
The growth continued and the international appeal of basketball was established in 1936 when the sport was included in the Summer Olympics for the first time.
The sport exploded into one of the most popular in the world, with thousands of people playing and watching the game globally.
In 1949, the NBL merged with the Basketball Association of America (BAA) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA), which remains the preeminent professional basketball league and is one of the most successful and profitable sports leagues in the world.
Evolution of Basketball
The evolution of basketball has continued over the years, with changes to the rules, equipment, and playing style. The court size increased, the number of players on each team changed, and the ball itself has been improved and modified.
Some rules, like dribbling and shooting, have remained largely the same, but others, like the introduction of the three-point line in 1979 added a new dimension to the game.
The shot clock and other advancements in technology and training have also led to a more physical and strategic style of play.
Internationalization of Basketball
From its humble beginnings in Springfield, basketball has continued to grow and reach countries around the world.
Top international leagues include the;
EuroLeague – The top-tier European professional basketball club competition, featuring some of the best teams from across Europe.
Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) – The CBA is the premier professional men’s basketball league in China and has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years.
Spanish Liga ACB – The Spanish Liga ACB is the top professional basketball league in Spain and is widely considered one of the best leagues in Europe.
Italian Lega Basket Serie A – The Italian Lega Basket Serie A is the top professional basketball league in Italy and features some of the best teams and players from the country.
VTB United League – The VTB United League is a top-tier professional basketball league based in Russia and features teams from several countries in the region.
Turkish Basketball Super League – The Turkish Basketball Super League is the premier professional men’s basketball league in Turkey.
Above all is FIBA, the International Basketball Federation which is the governing body for basketball worldwide.
Founded in 1932, FIBA is responsible for the organization and regulation of international basketball competitions, including the Olympic Games, World Cup, and Continental Championships.
Basketball started as a game to keep students active and has grown to become a global phenomenon with millions of fans and players.
The growth of organized leagues and competitions, along with its inclusion in the Summer Olympics, helped establish the international appeal of basketball. Birthing the NBA and top-tier international leagues to showcase the best teams and players from around the world.