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 janitor to find tw wo
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 was later replaced by y 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, MLB Schedule.The first
basketballs were ma

ade 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 to shoot after

Throughout basketball’s history, no part of th he 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 the
foul, the rules were soon amended so that players were aw

warded 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 competition, and
formal league play created rivalries. More importantly, collegiate leagues
became a cr

ritical 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 was the first truly national collegiate
tournament. The first NIT was held at the end of the 1937-38 season.

The NI

IT 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 Basketball
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 was 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 states 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 also to gain
employment at companies that sponsored their own AAU teams. Notable players
from this era of women’s basketball include Babe Didrikson, Alline Banks
Sprouse, and Nera White, who was one of the first two female players
elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1938 the three-court game was
changed to a two-court game, with six players on a team (three on offense
and three on defense). Players were still prohibited from straying from
their assigned areas.

In the mid-1930s another professional league called the National Basketball
League (NBL) was founded, taking the same name as the earlier NBL, which
had ceased operation some years before. In 1946 a group of executives in
New York City formed yet another new professional basketball league, known
as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). This new circuit was a
direct competitor with the new NBL, with teams in New York City; Boston,
Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Chicago, Illinois; and Detroit,
Michigan. Just before the 1948-49 season, the four strongest teams in the
NBL—those from Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rochester, New York; Fort Wayne,
Indiana; and Indianapolis, Indiana—joined the BAA. The following season,
the NBL’s six surviving teams also joined the BAA, forming a three-division
league that was renamed the National Basketball Association (NBA). After
the 1949-50 season the NBA reduced its size and established two divisions,
the forerunners to the Eastern and Western conferences that were
established after the 1969-70 season.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Minneapolis Lakers, led by center
George Mikan and coached by John Kundla, won five NBA championship titles
(1949, 1950, 1952-1954). In the 1950s guard Bob Cousy and forward Bob
Pettit had the greatest individual impact on professional basketball.
Cousy, nicknamed the Houdini of the Hardwood because of his ball-handling
skills, led the NBA in assists eight straight years (1953-1960) and guided
the Boston Celtics to six NBA titles (1957, 1959-1963). Pettit finished his
career with a remarkable 26.4 points per game (ppg) average while leading
the St. Louis Hawks to appearances in the NBA championship finals in 1957,
1958, 1960, and 1961, with the Hawks winning the title in 1958.

The Celtics dominated the NBA from 1957 to 1969. During this 13-season
period, the team, coached mostly by Red Auerbach, won 11 NBA titles (1957,
1959-1966, 1968, 1969), including 8 consecutively. The Celtics had many
stars, but center Bill Russell was arguably the greatest. In his 13-season
career Russell averaged 15.1 ppg and 22.5 rebounds per game (rpg). Another
dominant center of the time was Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain played for
the Philadelphia Warriors, San Francisco Warriors (the team moved west in
1962), Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 100 points in
a single game in 1962 and averaged 50.4 ppg for the 1961-62 season. Neither
record has ever been approached by another player. Top guards of the 1960s
included Oscar Robertson of the Milwaukee Bucks, Jerry West of the Los
Angeles Lakers, and Walt Frazier of the New York Knicks.

The University of California, Los Angeles dominated college basketball from
1963 to 1975. Coached by John Wooden, UCLA won ten national championships
during this time (1964, 1965, 1967-1973, 1975), including seven
consecutively. From 1971 to 1974, UCLA won 88 consecutive games, an NCAA
record. Wooden’s UCLA teams featured great players such as center Bill
Walton, guard Gail Goodrich, forward Jamaal Wilkes, and forward Marques
Johnson. The best player to emerge from UCLA was center Kareem Abdul-
Jabbar, who was born Lew Alcindor. Abdul-Jabbar led UCLA to three straight
NCAA titles from 1967 to 1969. As a professional he led the Milwaukee Bucks
to an NBA title in 1971, and he led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA
titles in the 1980s (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988). Known for his famous
sky-hook shot, Abdul-Jabbar played 20 seasons in the NBA and retired as the
league’s leading career scorer, with 38,387 points.

For two decades after its founding, the NBA was the only major professional
basketball league. But in 1967 the American Basketball Association (ABA)
was formed. The league became known for the flashy playing style it
encouraged and the distinctive red, white, and blue basketballs it used.
The ABA convinced several NBA players to switch leagues, often for
lucrative contracts. Probably the best player in the ABA was guard and
forward Julius Erving, who later starred in the NBA. The ABA disbanded in
1976, with several of its teams joining the NBA.

In the late 1970s, the NBA experienced difficulty: The game was perceived
as dull, the league’s ticket sales decreased, revenue declined, and
television ratings were as low as they had ever been. In March 1979,
however, two collegiate players, forward Larry Bird of Indiana State
University and guard Magic Johnson of Michigan State University, helped
revive public interest in basketball. The two players, the stars of their
teams, faced each other in the 1979 NCAA championship game, won by Michigan
State. Both players went on to have distinguished NBA careers. In the 1980s
Bird helped revitalize the Boston Celtics franchise, leading the team to
three NBA titles (1981, 1984, 1986). Johnson did the same in Los Angeles,
as he and Abdul-Jabbar guided the Lakers to five NBA championships.

In the late 1980s the Detroit Pistons emerged as a powerhouse team,
featuring stars such as guard Isiah Thomas and forward Dennis Rodman.
Detroit reached the NBA Finals in 1988, 1989, and 1990, capturing the title
during the latter two years. Increased interest in the professional game
carried over to collegiate basketball as well, as the NCAA tournament
became more popular than ever.

Dramatic changes in women’s basketball occurred in the late 1960s. In 1966
unlimited dribbling became legal, and in 1969 the first five-player full-
court game was played. The five-player form became the official game in
women’s basketball in 1971. Women’s basketball is now played with virtually
the same rules, regulations, and styles as men’s basketball, although the
women use a slightly smaller ball at many levels, including college. With
the changes of the late 1960s, women’s basketball began a period of
tremendous growth, and in 1971 the Association for Intercollegiate
Athletics for Women (AIAW) was founded, offering a national college
basketball tournament for women.

The women’s game gained strength in the late 1970s after a law called Title
IX was increasingly enforced, helping strengthen women’s basketball
programs. The law, passed as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972,
prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender in educational
institutions receiving federal aid, meaning that women’s athletic programs
had to be treated as equal to men’s programs. In 1978 the AIAW championship
was televised, and the same year a professional league called the Women’s
Basketball League (WBL) made its debut. Featuring eight teams, the league
lasted three years. The AIAW disbanded in 1982, but that same year the NCAA
held its first national championship for women. Three years later, in 1985,
the Basketball Hall of Fame began inducting female coaches, players, and
contributors. These inductees include important pioneers such as Ann
Meyers, who was the first woman to receive a collegiate athletic
scholarship; Carol Blazejowski; Cheryl Miller; Anne Donovan; and Nancy

In the 1990s interest in basketball at all levels continued to grow. The
most important figure in this growth was guard Michael Jordan, who is
considered by many to be the greatest player ever. Jordan’s exceptional
basketball skills and flair for entertainment helped keep basketball in the
forefront of American culture as he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA
championships (1991-1993, 1996-1998) and led the league in scoring a record
ten times. Other great players of the 1990s included Hakeem Olajuwon,
Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Karl Malone, John
Stockton, and Shaquille O’Neal. Star players of the women’s professional
leagues included Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Teresa Edwards, Lisa
Leslie, and Jennifer Azzi.

Beginning in the late 1980s, it became increasingly common for the best
male collegiate players to leave college before graduating, as they chose
to enter the NBA draft hoping to play professionally for large sums of
money. The NBA, while affording young players this opportunity, has tried
to curtail this practice. In 1995 the league enacted a limit on the amount
of money a rookie could earn, called a rookie salary cap, hoping to
discourage players from leaving school.

Following the 1997-98 season NBA owners and players could not agree on
rules regarding a salary cap and several other issues, and the NBA owners
instituted a player lockout. The dispute cancelled all league play until an
agreement was reached in January 1999, resulting in a strike-shortened, 50-
game season followed by a regular playoff schedule and championship series.
Jordan announced his retirement from professional basketball after the
labor dispute was resolved. The San Antonio Spurs, led by David Robinson
and Tim Duncan, won the 1999 NBA title. The Los Angeles Lakers, featuring
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, won the 2000 league championship. Duncan
and Bryant are part of the next generation of superstars that the league
hopes will carry on the legacy of past heroes such as Bird, Johnson,
Barkley, and Jordan.


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