History of Basketball

Basketball was invented by the Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith. The game was invented in 1891 at a YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. The game was originally intended to occupy a group of YMCA attendees who were known for making trouble and misbehaving.

Naismith’s goal was to create a game that was as much skills-based as it was about strength and that could be played indoors. After reading about the Mayan game Ulama, he devised the game of basketball.

The original game included thirteen basic rules, which included among others throwing the ball with one or both hands, batting the ball with the hands without using fists, and never running with the ball.

As a matter of fact, players were forbidden to move with the ball and had to pass to another player to progress the ball down the court. Today, running with the basketball is permitted, as long as the player dribbles. Running with the ball without dribbling is known as traveling and will result in a penalty call in a game.

Naismith grouped his class of wayward YMCA members into two teams each with nine players. He explained the object of his new game, which was

History of Basketball

to throw the ball into the baskets at each end of the gym. The original balls used in his basketball game were soccer balls. The original game required a break between each basket to allow the YMCA’s janitor to retrieve the ball from the peach baskets.

Today, the baskets are open on the bottom to allow for a faster pace of play. The first public basketball game took place in Springfield on March 11, 1892.

Professional basketball leagues and teams began to form in 1898. There were originally six teams in the National Basketball League, which later dissolved in 1904. The Celtics team were considered the “fathers of modern basketball” and were the first team that required players to sign a contract to join the team.

Though they share a name with the modern day Boston Celtics, they are not the same team, and the original team dissolved around shortly after their championship reign during the 1920s.


Colleges were also early active participants in organized basketball. The first recorded college basketball game was placed between Geneva College and the New Brighton YMCA in 1893 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Geneva College now considers itself the birthplace of college basketball. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, better known as the NCAA, formed in 1904 when Yale was disqualified from the Amateur Athletic Union.


The Basketball Association of American formed in 1946 and later renamed itself the National Basketball Association in 1949 after merging with the National Basketball League. Today, the NBA is the most well-known professional basketball league in the United States.

It boasts the highest player salaries, the best talent, and the highest revenues. The NBA did not integrate until the 1950s. The following season Chuck Cooper became the first African-American player drafted into the NBA, followed by Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in an NBA game.