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Dr. James Naismith is best known world wide as the inventor of basketball. He also led an exemplary life, following the values he held dear. He was an educator and leader, dedicated to developing character through sport, and devoted to serving society.
While James Naismith was studying at Springfield College in Massachusetts, his instructor in Physical Education, Luther Gulick, assigned his students the task of developing a new recreational game, something that would provide relief from all the calisthenics and drills. Some time later, when he reviewed the responses, he found that none were complete enough to be adopted into a game. Yet Gulick chose Naismith's plan among the other proposals and helped him develop some rules.

The day arrived to test out his new game with the class. On his way to the gymnasium he asked the janitor if he had two boxes eighteen inches square. The janitor reflected "I have two old peach baskets down in the storeroom, if they will do you any good." James examined them thoughtfully. They were about fifteen inches in diameter around the top. With a hammer and nails, James attached the baskets to the lower rail of the balcony, one at each end of the gym about ten feet above the floor. After outlining the rules and selecting teams, the first game of basketball in history was played at Springfield, Massachusetts in December, 1891.

The spread of the game into foreign countries began soon after its origin. The Y Training school in Springfield was an international one, with students from all over the world. After their schooling they would return home carrying knowledge of the game of basketball with them. In less than two years, basketball had been introduced into more than a dozen countries. American military and naval forces, arranging games and tournaments both at home and abroad, were also important agents in spreading basketball abroad.



  • Dec 21, 1891 - Dr. James Naismith an instructor at the School for Christian Workers (Now Springfield College) invents the game of basketball.
  • 1892 - Lew Allen of Hartford Connecticut makes cylindrical baskets of heavy woven wire to eliminate peach baskets.
  • 1894 - Soccer balls replaced by basketballs.
  • 1895 - The first game played between colleges: Minnesota State School of Agriculture9, Hamline College (of St. Paul) 3.
  • 1898 - First professional league formed and called the National Basketball League with six teams.
  • 1905 - Lawrence College in Wisconsin conducts the first state high school tournament, won by Fond du Lac.
  • 1923-24 - Person fouled has to shoot the foul shot. This eliminates the designed foul shooter.
  • 1929 - The cage eliminated. Use of rope or chicken wire around the court discontinued.
  • 1936 - Basketball played for first time as an official Olympic sport. United States defeats Canada 19-8, for gold medal in Berlin.
  • 1937 - Center jump after each score eliminated; 10 second rule goes into effect.
  • 1943 - Bob Kurland, 7 feet, enrolls in Oklahoma State University, and Georage Mikan, 6 feet 10 inches enrolls at DePaul. The first real big men become a dominant force in the game.
  • 1945-46 - Kenny Sailors of Wyoming University credited for making the jump shot practical.
  • 1948-49 - Rectangular glass backboards made official for college play.
  • 1949 - Basketball Association of America and the National League merge to become the NBA.
  • 1950 - Charles Cooper of Duquee becomes the first black drafted in the NBBA
  • 1951 - First NBA All-Star Game played at Boston Garden: East 111, West 94.
  • 1954 - First time the 24-second clock used in an NBA game. Rochester beats Boston, 98-95.
  • 1962 - Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points against the Knicks to lead Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 victory.
  • 1967 - The American Basketball Association born with George Mikan as its first commissioner.
  • 1967-68 - The dunk banned in NCAA competition.
  • 1971-72 - Women's rule changes - size of the team reduced from six to five players; 30 second clock adopted.
  • 1972 - Freshman rule adopted for college basketball
  • 1974 - Moses Malone signs with Utah Stars of the ABA, the first professional player to go from high school into the pros.
  • 1976 - Dunk put back into college game.
  • 1976 - Women's basketball becomes an official Olympic sport. Soviet Union defeats United States for the Gold medal.
  • 1976-77 - The ABA is dissolved.
  • 1978-79 - The NBA adds a third official for games
  • 1979-80 - The NBA adopts a 3-point field goal and votes to eliminate third official.
  • 1984-85 - The NCAA approves smaller basketball for women.
  • 1984 - Georgeann Wells of West Virginia becomes the first woman to dunk a basketball in college competition.
  • 1985-86 - The NCAA approves a 45 second clock for all men's game.
  • 1987 - NBA adds four new franchisees. Charlotte and Miami (to begin play in 1988) and Orlando and Minnesota (to begin play in 1989)
  • 1989 - The Olympics decide professional basketball players can be included.
  • 1995 Raptors added to the NBA
  • 1995 Grizzlies added to the NBA