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How Dr. James Naismith Created The Game Of Basketball

How Dr. James Naismith Created The Game Of Basketball

As a die-hard basketball fan, you probably know that Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball.

But do you know anything about the man himself, or how created the game we all know and love?

If you don't know the answers to these questions, don't sweat it, you've come to the right place. In this article, we're going to be discussing who Dr. James Naismith was and how he created the game which would lead to the NBA.

Dr. James Naismith

James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861, in Almonte, Ontario. He initially taught physical education at McGill University in Montreal.

In 1890, Naismith moved to the United States, in Springfield, Massachusetts. There he would make history.

Basket Ball

It was December 1891, and Dr. James Naismith had a problem. He was teaching at the International YMCA Training School, and it was winter.

This meant it was too cold to take his students outside to play the typical games of the day. These games included America's pastime, baseball, and football.

These games were also not safe to play inside, so, at the request of the school, Naismith started to think of a new game in which his students could take part.

Naismith immediately thought of a game he played as a child. It was a game where he and his friends would toss rocks at a target.

Naismith then thought about switching out the rocks for a ball, making two teams, and the team that tossed the most balls into the target would win.

This game seemed rather simple, yet, no one had ever thought of it before. Naismith wasn't done, though. He had to come up with a target that his students could throw the ball in.

Naismith asked the school's janitor to find him a pair of boxes, but the janitor returned with two peach baskets.

Now, with two peach baskets, Naismith went looking for a ball. He decided to use a soccer ball because he figured a soccer ball was safer than that of a baseball or football.

He placed the peach baskets at each end of the gym, and he nailed them 10 feet above the floor.

Next up on Naismith's list was coming up with a name. He came up with the simplest name, since the game involved baskets and a ball. He called it, Basket Ball.

Naismith now had the foundation set for his new game. Now, he needed to come up with some rules. Naismith initially wrote only 13 rules.

The Original 13 Rules

The way basketball was played when Dr. James Naismith first created it was much different from the game you know today.

There were only 13 rules created by Naismith and as crazy as it sounds, dribbling was not allowed. Teams also only had nine players.

Here are the 13 original rules of Basket Ball:

  1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
  2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).
  3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
  4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
  5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player 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 of the game, no substitute allowed.
  6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.
  7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
  8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds 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.
  9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a 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 that side.
  10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
  11. The referee shall be 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.
  12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
  13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

Naismith's Game

December 21, 1891, Dr. James Naismith threw the ball up to start the first game ever played of basketball. It took place at the YMCA training school, where he created the game.

The final score of the first game was 1-0. A man named William R. Chase was the only player to score, making him the first player to make a basket in basketball history.

In a radio interview in 1939, Naismith described how he created the game of basketball:

“One day I had an idea. I called the boys to the gym and divided them up into teams of nine and gave them an old soccer ball. I showed them two peach baskets I'd nailed up at either end of the gym, and I told them the idea was to throw the ball into the opposing team's peach basket. I blew a whistle and the first game of basketball began.”

Naismith went on to describe the first game ever played:

“The boys began tackling, kicking, and punching in the clenches. They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. Before I could pull them apart, one boy was knocked out, several of them had black eyes and one had a dislocated shoulder.”

Naismith would go on to develop more rules, like allowing dribbling. Backboards were eventually put up to help scoring and the peach baskets were changed to nets to help speed up the game.

In 1898, Naismith got a job at the University of Kansas, and he founded their basketball program.

He became the school's first basketball head coach, and in nine years he had a 55–60 record. This, crazy as it sounds, makes Naismith the only one with a losing record in Kansas history.

Naismith's legacy lives on to this day as basketball is more popular than ever. Even though he passed away in 1939, he's honored with his name on awards given out to outstanding college basketball players.

So, the next time you pick up a basketball, remember the game started with peach baskets, a soccer ball, and only 13 rules. 


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