Basketball originated in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, by a Canadian PE teacher named James Naismith. Naismith was teaching at the YMCA training school (now Springfield College) at the time, and under the supervision of PE expert Luther Halsey Gulick, came up with a spirited and strenuous indoor activity, basketball. Initially, teams had 9 players, and the objective of the game was to throw the leather ball into fruit baskets that hung from a balcony. At first, the janitor had to fetch the ball from the basket every time someone scored, but they eventually decided to remove the bottoms from the baskets. It wasn’t until 1906 that the metal hoops with nets and backboards, that we know today, were introduced. Initially, James Naismith published 13 rules for the new game of basketball, and the first public game was played in Springfield in 1892.
From there, it began to gain national, and even international, attention and popularity. During World War I, the US Army spread basketball to other countries, and the YMCA also played a significant role in the sport becoming prevalent. The first professional league, the National Basketball League, was founded in 1898, but this league was abandoned in 1904. After that, college basketball came to the forefront and led the way to bringing basketball into the realm of mainstream national sports. Then in 1949, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed, merging the National Basketball League (NBL) and the Basketball Association of America (BAA).
A new league, the American Basketball Association, originated in 1967 as an alternative to the NBA. Although it achieved some great successes, it struggled in terms of earning and recognition. It was eventually incorporated into the NBA in 1976, and its 4 most successful teams became a part of the NBA. Some of the most famous teams in the NBA include the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the New York Knicks. The NBA still exists, and not only that, but it is the most important professional basketball league, in terms of popularity, prestige, earnings, talent, and competition level, attracting the best players from around the world. Some of the most famous players in the history of basketball include Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant , Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal. In 1996, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was formed, as the women’s equivalent to the NBA.
In terms of international associations and competitions, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) defines the rules of international basketball and regulates the relocation of players across countries. 200 plus national federations, organized into 5 zones: Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, are members. The FIBA Basketball World Cup is held every 4 years, as is the FIBA World Championship for Women, in the same year, but in a different location.
James Naismith, arguably the most important figure in the history of basketball, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. From its humble beginnings in a school gymnasium, basketball has developed into a popular and prestigious international sport.