The NBA and How it Started


Evan Williams, Staff Writer

My friends and I love watching and playing basketball, and I’m sure many of you sports fans do as well. Everything about the game is phenomenal, and basketball is, by far, my favorite sport. Whoever invented this sport must be a genius. But hey, wait a second! Who invented basketball? That’s a good question. How did they come up with the idea? How did basketball and the NBA become so popular within the United States and internationally? Today, hopefully, we can answer these questions, and get to the bottom of basketball’s origins. 

The man’s name was James Naismith. He is the great mind behind the game of basketball. It was the winter of 1891. 30-year-old James Naismith was a physical education teacher at the YMCA Training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was trying to figure out an activity that he could do with his students in between the football and baseball season. Naismith also developed the original 13 rules of basketball. These rules are throwing the ball, hitting the ball, running with the ball, use of hands, personal fouls, fist on the ball, the three fouls rule, the scoring rule, throw-ins, foul limits, the out-of-bounds rule, game length, and sudden death. As the game of basketball has grown in popularity, these rules have become more and more complicated, but these were the rules that started it all.

After these rules were established, the news of this game spread throughout the country. However, Naismith did not want to be thrown in the spotlight. He was focused on his career as an educator and was simply happy to see a growing audience of people enjoying his game. He continued to work at the YMCA Training school and later at the University of Kansas. Naismith, obviously, was never able to see basketball spread worldwide, but he was able to see it appear in the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin, Germany. We should truly thank this man, as his invention has brought joy to over 300 million players and fans worldwide. He was a truly great man with a truly great idea.

Now that we know who created basketball, how did he actually come up with the idea? Well, he needed a sport for his students to play during the winter time, as they were forced inside due to the cold temperatures. Naismith then remembered a game he played as a child. It was a rock-tossing game. The game involved two teams throwing a rock at a target. Whoever successfully landed the most balls on the target, won. He wanted to implement this childhood game into something his students could play in cold temperatures. So, he took two peach baskets and put them on opposite ends of the gym court, sitting 10 feet high. He then took a soccer ball, threw up the initial opening tip-off, and the game was born.

Naismith’s students were able to spread the game quickly by becoming teachers and coaches, showing their students how to play. High schools and colleges would then begin to have basketball teams, and boys and girls across the world began playing. As the game developed, rules and equipment were added to make the game better and more fun. Dribbling, backboards, nets, and basketballs were later added.

The game was doing phenomenally. Fans were interested in this game, and professional leagues were formed in the 1920s. The first pair of pro teams created were known as the Celtics and the Harlem Rens.

Obviously, the game of basketball was a success, but how did it manage to grow worldwide so easily after its birth in 1891? During World War 1, basketball was a popular sport played in between wartime. Coaches and teachers were able to teach their troops how to play, and it spread throughout all the people involved in the war.

James Naismith, teachers, coaches, and fans all were able to make basketball what it truly is today. What was once seen as a way to keep students busy in the winter, is now a highly competitive and global sporting event that millions of people watch and follow intently. Basketball not only became a popular pastime, but allowed millions of people to explore opportunities in the game that would not have been possible before. Professional basketball players put their heart and soul into practicing and competing in the game, and are then able to provide for their families by playing this great game. Basketball was able to create a community. I cannot imagine the world without it.

Thank you, James Naismith, for creating basketball. You have allowed millions to be able to play, watch, and enjoy this game. Basketball is in great hands and is only getting more and more popular as the years go by, especially internationally. Hopefully, basketball will stay relevant for years and years to come, and make impacts on many more.