An Overview of Basketball History


Ryan C Heffernan: Life Lessons from Basketball

Did you know that the very first type of basketball hoop was repurposed peach baskets? In 1892, that’s how basketball got its named. In Springfield, Massachusetts, a Canadian Doctor by the name of James Naismith instructed the first official game of basketball. Naismith wrote the original rules of Basketball, with 9 of them still implemented today with slight moderation. The final score of the very first basketball game was 1-0, and only played for 30 minutes as the players didn’t quite grasp the concept. The first person to ever score in Basketball was William R. Chase. Because Naismith didn’t have money to invent a new ball, the teams played with a soccer ball and Chase managed to shoot in the peach basket and score. By 1983, new basketball hoops were created out of iron basket and chain.


This new sport spread in popularity through YMCA’s in northeastern states as well as southern Canada. However, due to the roughness of this game, some YMCAs and other facilities banned the game. Originally, a similar game to basketball was played with a rubber ball in mesoamerica. However, much more gruesome, the game was played with the loose team being decapitated by their winning foes. Because of the popularity of the basketball game we know and love today, other facilities picked up the game and that’s how competitive basketball became a sport.


Local leagues started to form among large east coast cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Just four years after the very first basketball game was played, professional basketball as we know it came into the picture. In Trenton, New Jersey two teams formed at the Trenton Masonic temple. Chicken wire was used around the iron, creating cuts and scrapes during this game which embarked the hoop as we know made out of net and still used today.


In 1898, six teams formed the very first National Basketball League (NBL) between New Jersey and Philadelphia. During this time, players were paid $12 per game as they traveled around the country playing with local teams. Colleges joined in forming the collegiate sport of college basketball, with Yale winning the first ever national college league championship going 10-4.


The early 1900’s established a firm foundation of the sport. The first ever African American, Harry “Buck” Lew joined a professional team in 1902. The original formation of contracts came from the Celtics, then known as the New York Celtics who discontinued the allowance of players to switch teams depending on what team paid players more.


After the 1929 stock market crash, teams began to disintegrate due to low attendance and funding. As the economy grew, the game of Basketball did too. Towards the end of the 30s and early 40s, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) grew into two of America’s most followed Basketball competitions.
The first NBA game was played between Toronto and New York on November 1, 1947. Following the rapid growth from the NBA, Basketball made its way through the years to its current state. With salaries rising, rules and regulations adapting and the way of the game evolving into how it’s played today, basketball is now a professional competitive sport followed by Americans all over the nation.