Over the years since basketball was invented, its popularity has gotten very big. The game is played all over the world and has made a lot of people rich through its many professional leagues. The National Basketball Association is, by far, the most popular league in the world, but a lot of people like to watch college, high school, and recreational basketball as much. The game of basketball is one of the most popular and exciting games to watch or play on any skill level.
In December of 1891, Dr. James Naismith was a teacher at the Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was winter and one of his superiors, Dr. Luther Gulick, asked of Dr. Naismith to come up with a game that could be played during the winter months (“History”). Dr. Naismith had played rugby and he didn’t like the roughness of that game. He wanted a team game which would get rid of most physical contact (“Basketball”). The game contained elements from American football, soccer, and hockey (“History”).
Dr. Naismith contemplated the way the game should be played and what should be used for a goal. His original idea was to have a vertical goal. When he consulted some of his students, they brought to his attention that people would be able to block an attempt to score by simply raising their hand in front of the ball. He then came up with the idea of a horizontal goal in which the players would have to throw the ball in an arc. This would mean less force would be needed to get the ball in and it also meant that the opposing players wouldn’t be able to block a shot so easily (Anderson, 5).
He then asked a custodian to hang to boxes from the balcony in the gym. The custodian came back and said that he only had to peach baskets. That would have to do. The first ball used was a soccer ball. Since there was eighteen kids in his class, each team consisted of nine players (Vancil). Since the baskets were placed on the balconies, which happened to be ten feet high, the players needed a ladder to get the ball out after each score.
By 1897, the size of teams had reduced to only five players and the ball was replaced with a slightly larger leather ball, very similar to what is used today (“Basketball”). As the popularity grew, more people began to go and watch the games. Sometimes the fans would sit up on the balcony which the baskets were hung and would often interfere with a shot. This caused a problem because at that time there was no rule for fan interference. This caused another piece of equipment to be introduced. The backboard, which was often made of wire. It also made it a little easier to score because the players could now bank the ball off the backboard and this meant that the players didn’t have to shoot directly at the hoop, so it made it a little harder to defend the person with the ball (“Basketball”). The courts often had a cage around them to keep the fans from just walking on the court at will. This is the origin of the term “Cagers” which referred to the players on the court (Anderson, 10).
In 1906, a new type of goal, the metal hoop, was introduced. A bag of “braided cord netting” was attached to the bottom of the hoop. By pulling this cord, the ball would pop out of the net. Soon they started to use a net like the one used today (“History”).
Until 1923 one player could shoot all of his or her team’s foul shots. This was always the teams best shooter, which meant that this one player would more often than not, score most of his or her teams points (Anderson, 9).
In 1937, the center jump rule was taken away. This rule was, that after every made basket, each team would get around the center circle as they did at the tip-off, and jump again (Anderson, 9). Before this rule was taken away, twenty points was often enough for as team to win. The departure of this rule allowed teams to fast break, which intern, made the scores much higher.
In 1954, two more elements of the game were introduced. The “Bonus” situation, where any foul over six in any half of the game would result in the player fouled on the opposing team shooting a one-and-one. This means that if he or she makes the fist one, then they get another one. If they miss then they don’t get another shot and the ball is in play. Any foul over ten would result in the player fouled on the opposing team shooting two foul shot. It doesn’t matter if they make the first one or not (Vancil, 10). The other element was the twenty-four second shot clock. This amount of time seems odd to many people, yet it was quite simple to come up with. Danny Biasone, the owner of Syracuse at that time, got this number by doing a little bit of math. At that time, each team was averaging about sixty shots per game. There is forty-eight minutes in a game which equals two thousand eight hundred eighty seconds in a game. He then divided two thousand eight hundred eighty by the number of shots per game, one hundred twenty. He came up with twenty four. Thus we get the twenty-four second shot clock (Vancil, 10). The purpose of this clock is to limit the amount of time a team has to take a shot. This way one team can’t hold on to the ball for a long period of time. The clock is helpful and challenging especially at the end of a tight game. The team on offense can’t hold the ball for a win, which mean that the team on defense can have a chance to get the ball back without fouling. It also make the team with the ball have to go back and play defense. It creates a great tension for the players and the fans, and also makes the game more exciting.
Basketball is considered to be America’s purest sport. It was “Invented in America for Americans” (Anderson, 5). The reason it may be the purest when compared to Baseball, Football, Golf, Tennis, and Hockey, is because baseball evolved from a British game called Rounders, football evolved from soccer and rugby, golf was invented by some Scottish men, Tennis is a French game, and hockey was created by Canadian soldiers (Anderson, 4). Basketball was completely original and was created in America.
For almost forty years basketball rarely extended further than its geographical area (Vancil, 8). Mostly in the northeast. Between 1893 and 1895, basketball became popular and many United States colleges adopted it. In 1934 the fist college game was played at New York City’s Madison Square Garden (“History”). College play heightened interest in basketball a great deal. By the 1950’s college basketball became a major college sport and created a growing interest as a profession.
The first professional league was the National Basketball League, NBL, created in 1898. The main purpose of the league was to “protect the players from exploitation and to promote a less rough game” (“History”). The players didn’t get paid for their skills either. The NBL lasted about five years and then resulted in many “loosely organized leagues throughout the Northeastern U.S.” (“History”). The second major professional league formed in 1946, the Basketball Athletic Association, the BAA. It consisted of eleven teams, most of which were from the northeast. The league suffered a little because the teams would have to travel across the country to play only a few teams from the west coast (Vancil, 9). The league survived, but more was needed. The needed ingredient was the remaining teams formerly part of the NBL. The BAA and the NBL merged to create the National Basketball Association, the NBA (Vancil, 9). This new league has totally changed the way basketball was thought of and it still does. The first great pro team was the Original Celtics of 1915 (“History”). It survived the NBL and dominated the NBA. The Celtics also changed the game into a future.
The Celtics proved to be the best team in history. They were the first dynasty. Under some of the best coaches every to coach, they won an average of 57.6 wins out of 80 per season (Vancil, 12). They won eight championships in a row, and have a total of sixteen which is five more than any other team. The other great team throughout the ages was the Lakers. They won five championships in Minneapolis and six more after they moved to Los Angeles, for a total of eleven (Vancil, 26). The turning point for the NBA was the 1966-67 season. The Celtics were dominating and Bill Russell, the center for Boston, made $100,000 for that year (Vancil, 13). The fan interest was at an all-time high.
In 1951 the first All-Star Game was held. The east had five of the leagues top nine scorers and beat the west easily. Eight years later, the Basketball Hall of Fame was built in Springfield, MA. It hold the names of great players, referees, coaches, and people of importance to the development of the game of basketball.
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