Who Invented Basketball? Everything you Need to Know

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A basketball hoop sitting there alone while the sun is setting with palm trees in the background

James Naismith. To many people’s surprise, it was actually a Canadian who invented the great sport of basketball.

I spent many hours researching who actually invented basketball, everything surrounding it, and the impact it had on others.

Keep reading to find out every important event that happened once basketball was invented and to find out what the original 13 rules were.

Who invented the name ‘Basketball’

Franch Mahan. Many people would think that Naismith himself would have given the name to the sport he created, but it was actually one of his students. Mahan was the head of the class who came up with the name. The reason was rather simple, as players needed a basket and a ball to throw into the basket, combining the two.

Where was Basketball Invented?

Player practicing his jump shot

Springfield, Massachusetts. This is where Naismith birthed basketball after a fierce blizzard struck the state. It was one of the worst winters in their history, so Naismith, being a gym teacher at the time, had to come up with a new sport that would allow the students to stay active and compete in sports despite weather issues.

He recalled a Canadian game he used to play as a child, ‘duck on a rock’, and this is the origin of his creation. Not long after, Naismith took two peach baskets and hung them on the far sides of a gym. This is when basketball was created.

When was Basketball invented?

Basketball was invented on December 21st, 1891. But when was basketball created? The first game was held in a prestigious school, and at the time and years following, it was considered a rich man’s sport. Hierarchies still existed, and the rich would attend and play: for a long time, only white Americans were allowed to play.

Pollution and disease were the biggest problems at the time. Basketball kept people playing the sport fit and healthy and able to fight any illnesses that attacked them.

The First Basketball Game

The first basketball game took place on December 21, 1891. This was the first time Naismith introduced his new invention to the International YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first game used a soccer ball, but the first game was anything but orderly.

The game became violent, and students started kicking, punching, clinching, and tackling each other. The aftermath was several boys having black eyes; one endured a dislocated shoulder, and one boy had been completely knocked out of consciousness.

This gives visual representation of how basketball was invented. Video by Basketball Stories

The 13 Original Rules of Basketball

Naismith was afraid that the boys would keep fighting each other and afraid of lethal injuries, so he created 13 basketball rules in an attempt to stop physical contact and have a peaceful game. You can find the original 13 rules of basketball below:

  1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
  2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).
  3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
  4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
  5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.
  6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.
  7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).
  8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
  9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.
  10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
  11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
  12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes’ rest between.
  13.  The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

How Did Basketball Spread Worldwide?

Michael Jordan with his hands on his hips after an exhausting win over the Pacers in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Pictured in 1998, his final year at the Chicago Bulls. Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images.

Basketball primarily stayed inside North America and didn’t make its way out for a while. But in the 1980s, a basketball icon by the name of Michael Jordan helped spread basketball, not only making it more popular in the USA but also across Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa. 

He helped revitalize basketball and bring Naismith’s creation to billions of people. Everything Jordan did was blasted in the newspapers, and the media had a field day with it. From his flashy dunks to sticking his tongue out when performing a dunk, he truly elevated the status of basketball, and fans of all ages fell in love with the sport.

Changes to the Rules

When the three-point line was introduced and players started dunking, then the rules had to adhere to the present times. Some of the rules still apply to the game today, even after 130+ years; however, most of the rules have changed due to it being so fast-paced and the overall evolution of the game.

The Future of Basketball

The future of the game is far different from Naismith’s original vision. The game now heavily relies on the three-point shot, which didn’t exist in Naismith’s original thirteen rules.

Fans want to take it a step further and want the NBA to add a four-point line, which would only encourage more players to become pure shooters. Most people like the three-point shot, and many young kids look up to Stephen Curry and other athletes who are known for shooting.

Some people want the game as it used to be, and that’s physical 90’s basketball, where defense was tougher and there were not many threes being shot.

A rare interview where Dr Naismith answers how he invented Basketball

Final Thoughts

James Naismith is the man who invented basketball. There was only one real motive as to why he created the sport, and that was to provide students with a sport to compete in while a brutal blizzard bombarded Massachusetts.

Have you ever wondered about the duration of a basketball game? Be sure to check out how long a basketball game is.

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Hi, This is Daniel's Sports Blog. I have been a Sports Fan for as long as I can remember and have grown up watching all types of sports including Basketball, Soccer, Football, Wrestling (WWE specifically), amongst many more! I have not only been watching sports but I have also been competing in a range of sports and I bring my skills and experiences to writing this blog so I can help other sports fanatics understand and appreciate the art of sports.

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