One ball, ten players, and one simple goal to just get the ball through a hoop. In its most basic form, this is basketball. Who knew such a simple game would involve into one of America’s favorite pastimes. March Madness, the NBA, the WNBA, Air Jordan…none of this would exist without the invention of basketball. So, where was it invented? Who came up with the idea? How has it evolved overtime? And how did it become so popular? These are just some of the many questions to help understand the full history of basketball. Let’s break it down, detail by detail, to find out all there is to know about all things basketball.
The origins of basketball
His name was Dr. James Naismith. Born in 1861 in a small township in Canada, Naismith would first development the concept for basketball during his youth as a schoolboy. Basketball was actually derived from a game he played called “duck-on-a-rock,” where players attempted to knock a “duck” off the top of a big rock by throwing a rock. While this game may seem very elementary, this is what started it all.
Following his youth, Naismith then attended McGill University, where he graduated and then served as McGill’s Athletic Director; however, it wasn’t until Naismith moved onto YMCA Training School in Massachusetts that the game of basketball would see its true birth. In the winter of 1891, Naismith was struggling to find a sport for his students to play inside in a small space at the School for Christian Workers. His solution? Basketball. It’s hard to believe that the complex sport that we know today first started with just 13 rules and a soccer ball and two peach baskets used for equipment. It didn’t take long before Naismith’s new sport picked up a lot of press and popularity. Soon, basketball was introduced in YMCAs all across the Nation and saw its first Olympic appearance in Berlin in 1936.
Growth in popularity
80 years after its first Olympic appearance, basketball has grown to dominate the sports world, particularly with extensive coverage surrounding the NBA and college teams. To this day, there are still many arguments about when the first official college basketball game took place. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Hamline University and Minnesota State School of Agriculture played each other on February 9, 1895 in what could have been the first ever college basketball game. Other reports still argue that the first game took place a year later between the University of Iowa and the University of Chicago on January 18, 1896. Regardless, the NCAA now has over 351 men’s basketball teams competing in 32 Division I conferences.
In 1946, the National Basketball Association, better known as the “NBA”, was founded in the Commodore Hotel in New York City. The first game took place on November 1, 1946 between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada. Since then, the NBA has grown to include 30 teams competing in a 82-game regular season with the top eight teams in each conference competing in the postseason tournament.