Tracing the Origins and Early Evolution of Basketball
The first basketball games were played using soccer balls, long before brilliant orange hoops appeared on NBA courts. James Naismith, a physical education instructor at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, devised basketball in 1891 as a new indoor game that students could play in the winter. When Naismith ordered the custodian of the school to bring him two 18-square-inch boxes for “goals,” the man came back holding two fruit baskets. Because the gymnasium balcony railing was 10 feet above the floor, Naismith fastened the baskets to it. For this reason, official NBA hoops are now 10 feet high. The new game could be played when Naismith obtained a soccer ball—basketballs, of course, weren’t around at the time.
There were thirteen regulations in the original game of basketball that dealt with fouls and ball movement. Players were not allowed to dribble continuously when in control of the ball; this rule was implemented in 1909. Each side had nine players, and the match was split into two halves of fifteen minutes each. Since holes weren’t drilled into the bottom of the baskets until years later, Naismith also needed the assistance of two men to collect the ball from the baskets at each end. The first official basketball was created in 1894 by the sports equipment manufacturer Spalding, as the game quickly gained popularity. The National Basketball Association was formed in 1949 by the merger of the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America, which were founded in 1937 and 1946 respectively as a result of the new sport.