How basketball was invented

Basketball, like most sports, isn’t exactly the same as it was when it was first established. While the base ideas for the game were great, in practice they could lead to disrupting the flow of the game, so, over time, these rules have been changed or removed to make it better. Or at least that is the intention. Basketball has undergone several rule changes since its inception but has proven so popular that millions of people across the world love to play it. Here is the origin story of basketball.

Don’t touch me

The rules for the game were set up and published by Canadian James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He set the game up to be played during winter months when football players would be unable to play. He intended the game to be free from contact and have much fewer injuries than football. It grew in popularity rapidly, and by the 20th century, it was flourishing.

How basketball was invented

The rules

There were only 13 rules published by Naismith in 1891, and the game was played with a soccer-style ball and some peach baskets. Originally there were nine players in a team, and the baskets were nailed to gym benches. The baskets had bottoms to them, so each time a basket was scored the game would have to be stopped to allow a janitor to climb up a ladder and retrieve the ball. Eventually, they realized it would be better if they just cut the bottoms of the baskets out to speed up the play. Some of the early rules included not allowing players to dribble with the ball; instead, they had to catch it and stop moving. Three fouls would result in a goal awarded to the other team, and if a player fouled another, they would have to sit out the game until a score was registered on the board.

Let’s play

The first game of basketball was overseen by Naismith who got his students to partake in the game. Originally the game was split into two halves, each lasting 15 minutes, with players allowed a five-minute rest in between. Evidently, it was a difficult game to begin with as the very first basketball match ended in a score of 1-0 (not quite as exciting as modern-day standards). It didn’t have a name yet, and people suggested calling it “Naismith Game” after its inventor, but Naismith had another idea. He said there is both a basket and a ball and so it should be called basketball. The rest is history, and basketball is what we play now.

How basketball was invented

Growth in popularity

Basketball was established in colleges across America during the early years, but once it grew in popularity, the professional game wasn’t too far behind. The first pro league was established in 1898, which was comprised of six teams and named the National Basketball League. It would take nearly another 50 years for the NBA (National Basketball Association) to be established but once it did the sport never looked back. The NBA was set up in 1946 as the BAA (Basketball Association of America) but changed to the NBA in 1949.


Now the game is a multibillion-dollar establishment that has sports stars competing from all over the world, despite being a predominantly American sport. Fans of basketball can look back and thank James Naismith for his invention that has provided America, and the world, with so much entertainment over the years.