The game of basketball was invented in 1891 by Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith as a less injury-prone alternative to football, in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the United States. The original game was played using peach baskets and a soccer style ball and only had 13 rules which were to abided by at all times. Teams were made up of 9 players and the first public basketball game was played on 11th March 1892.
The game quickly became popular across America as the 20th century progressed and it soon spread throughout the world.
The Increasing Popularity of Basketball
The YMCA had a major role in the spreading of basketball throughout the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world. Mel Rideout arranged the first European match in Montmartre, Paris in 1893 and Bob Gailey went to China, Duncan Patton to India, Genzabaro Ishikawa to Japan and C. Hareek to Persia. When World War I broke out in 1914, the U.S. Army Expeditionary Force took the game wherever it went and the popularity increased significantly.
Professional Leagues Formed
The first professional basketball league was founded in 1898 and six teams formed part of the National Basketball League, of which the Trenton Nationals were the first champions. The league was however abandoned in 1904 and smaller championships followed. The Original Celtics are considered the ‘fathers of basketball’ as players had to sign contracts in order to play with them and Jim Furey organised matches which moved daily from town to town.
American Colleges Increase Popularity
The popularity of basketball was ever-increasing and we would go so far as to say that you would’ve been tempted to skip online slots Canada to watch a game instead! Besides the YMCA, the greatest level of activity was seen in American colleges and the first known U.S. college to hold a basketball game against an outside opponent was Vanderbilt University which played against the local YMCA in Nashville, Tennessee on 7th February 1893. By 1897, the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union gained oversight of basketball activity from the YMCA and in April 1905 representatives of 15 colleges took control of the college game, creating the ‘Basket Ball Rule Committee”. Then in 1939, the extremely popular NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was started.
First International Basketball Games
Basketball developed rapidly after its arrival in Europe and the first international match was held in St. Petersburg in 1909 when Mayak St. Petersburg beat an American YMCA team. The first major European event was held in 1919 near Paris during the Inter-Allied Games and basketball quickly became popular amongst the French and Italians.
Establishment of the NBA
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) was founded in New York City on 6th June 1946 and the league adopted the name National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1949 after merging with a rival league known as the National Basketball League. As of the 21st century, the NBA is the most significant pro basketball league in the world.
The NBA has helped to popularise basketball on a global scale, largely due to the highly accomplished stars that have played the game over the years. Michael Jordan, who formed part of the 1992 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team known as the ‘Dream Team’, helped to catapult basketball to international success. Players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James have further cemented the popularity of basketball amongst international audiences.