As it is popularly known today, basketball is a sport played by two, five-member teams in which the primary objective is to shoot or throw a ball through a basket or hoop in order to score. The game is played on a standard-sized, rectangular court through which the players run from end-to-end where their respective field goals are situated. Players dribble the ball or pass it on to their teammates in order to advance it nearer to their team’s goal.
The first team to score more points within a given timeframe wins the game.
Basketball has not always been played that way, however. During its beginnings, the play was so much simpler, there were only thirteen basic rules and even the hoop and the court were very different. Indeed, basketball has gone a long way from serving as a mere distraction and exercise for raucous college students during the 1900’s to being one of the most popular spectator sports in the local and international sports arena that is now.
The discussion that follows shall provide an overview of basketball’s history and evolution from its early days to the present. Origins
Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian doctor and physical education teacher at McGill University and at Springfield College in Massachusetts under the direction and pressure of Luther Halsey Gulick, the head of Springfield physical education department. The game was originally intended to be a diversion for Springfield College students to keep them occupied and fit as well during the cold, winter season.
The game was chosen from among several other suggested games which were found to be too strenuous or inappropriate for the indoor setting.
The first hoops were actually peach baskets that were nailed to a 10-foot high railing. These peach baskets had their bottoms retained and so every time the ball is thrown into it, it had to be pushed out of the basket using a dowel. The courts then were about half the size of an official National Basketball Association (NBA) court today and the ball used was a soccer ball. In 1892, the first thirteen rules of basketball were created (see Appendix A).
It was also that year when women’s basketball began in Smith College using a modified version of Naismith’s rules and when the first official men’s basketball game was played in a gymnasium of YMCA with nine players. Since then, basketball’s popularity quickly spread throughout the colleges of U. S. and Canada through the YMCA chapters. As colleges adopted the game, more and more teams were created and intercollegiate games became widely held in different states. When YMCA started to recognize that the game was already conflicting with their mission, they discouraged the playing of the game.
Clubs, schools and communities, however, continued to play. Two associations, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and NCAA’s predecessor, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association (IAA) contended for the game’s organization during the years before the First World War began. In the 1920’s professional teams were formed from local communities. There had been many developments since then. In 1914, the basket’s bottom was removed thus eliminating the need to manually thrust the ball out of the basket every time a shot was made. The rules had also undergone some modifications.
The free throw was first introduced in 1895. This occurred whenever a player was fouled. Until 1923, a player was assigned to shoot the free throws instead of the fouled player himself. In 1897, the number of members allowed to play from each team was reduced from nine to five. A center, two guards and two forwards made up each team. In 1908, the five foul policy was established. This rendered any player who committed more than five fouls to continue playing. The jump ball rule after a foul has occurred or whenever the game is stopped, was removed in 1937 thereby speeding up the game.
From 1891 to 1937, the following four fundamental rules remained: • Players with the ball must dribble it while advancing the ball. • The goal should be above the head of the players, • There should be little or no roughness in play, and • Use of contact by any player to receive the ball is not allowed. (Wikipedia, 2006) The Game and the Teams In 1925, the American Basketball League (ABL) was formed which was made up of nine teams. This was the firs major attempt to institutionalize basketball as a global professional sport. The ABL held seasons which lasted for six months and paid the most valuable players $1500.
In 1932, the International Amateur Basketball Federation was created in Geneva, Switzerland. During this time, the game was already gaining international fame not only by fans but by players as well. The Harlem Globetrotters, an all-black team from the U. S. formed in 1927, were able to draw very large crowds of fans wherever they play. The Globetrotters promoted basketball and entertained fans around the world with their special tricks and extraordinary skills. Three years before Naismith passed away, basketball became an official Olympic sport in August of 1936. The game was played in Berlin, Germany, the host of the XI Olympiad.
Naismith was sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to travel all across the Atlantic and watch the game played by teams from 22 nations. Canada lost the gold medal to the USA 19-8 and the game was played on a lawn tennis court under the rains (Better Basketball, 2006). In 1937, the National Basketball League (NBL) was formed followed by the Basketball Association of America in 1946. The two groups competed against each other until they decided to merge and form the National Basketball Association, or the NBA as it is widely known today.
The first NBA season was held in 1949 comprising of 17 city circuits divided into three divisions. Among the original teams that have stayed through the years were the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. The Players The 1950’s saw the emergence of the NBA as a world class basketball league. During this time, the league held players like Wilt Chamberlain, (who also played for the Globetrotters), and Jerry West (also known as “Mr. Clutch”) who made it to the All-Star team 14 times during his entire career. The team Boston Celtics dominated basketball in the 1960’s.
From 1959-1966, they were able to win eight straight titles. They owed their success to players like Bob Cousy and Bill Russel. The latter was a specialist on defense and led the Celtics to 11 NBA championships during his 13 year long career. NBA expanded further during the 1970’s and 1980’s having grown to 27 teams from only eight teams during its beginnings. In the 1980’s, a famous rivalry had been created, between Magic Johnson of the LA Lakers and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. Both were star players and both had been granted three MVP awards each.
Michael Jordan, considered as one of the greatest players in the history of NBA, emerged and rose to fame from the mid-1980’s up to the early 1990’s. He was able to establish many unbeatable score records and to lead the Chicago Bulls to six championships. When basketball marked its centennial anniversary in the season of 1991-1992, there were already 176 nations participating in basketball. Three more teams joined the NBA league between 1990-2000. These were the Charlotte Bobcats, the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies. Thus, there are a total of 30 teams in the NBA today.
The best players today, such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant are being paid in millions of dollars. Some of them do not even want to play unless they have already signed the contract and others walk out of the game when they feel cheated of their pay, causing their fans to be turned off. Conclusion Indeed, basketball as a sport has gone a long way since its humble beginnings. From being a college diversion game in the 1900’s, it has now become a multi-billion dollar industry that seeks to promote the game not only as a sport, but also as a form of entertainment for the whole world to see.
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