James Naismith

Inventor of Basketball

Who was James Naismith

James Naismith was born November 6, 1861 and died November 28, 1939. He was a Canadian American sports coach and innovator. He invented the sport of basketball in 1891. He wrote the original basketball rulebook now owned by the University of Kansas basketball program. He lived to see basketball adopted as an Olympic sport in 1904, and as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. He also invented both the National Invitation Tournament in 1938 and the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in 1939.

How Basketball was made

At Springfield YMCA, Naismith struggled with a rowdy class which was confined to indoor games. In his attempt to think up a new game, Naismith was guided by three main thoughts. Firstly, he thought the most popular games of those times Rugby, Lacrosse, Soccer, Football, Hockey, and Baseball. Naismith noticed the hazards of a ball and concluded that the big soft soccer ball was safest. Secondly, he saw that most contact happened while running with the ball, dribbling ,or hitting it. So he decided that passing was the only legal option. Finally, Naismith further reduced body contact by making the goal unguardable, placing it high above the player's heads. To score goals, he forced the players to throw a soft lobbing shot. Naismith loved this new game "Basket Ball"

The Rules

In January 15, 1892, James Naismith published his 13 rules for the game of "Basket Ball" that he invented.

  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.
  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, striking, pushing, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next basket is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
  6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules three and four and such described in rule five.
  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 (without falling), 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 and played by the first person touching it. In case of 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 the 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 people 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 baskets, with any other duties that are usually performed by a scorekeeper.
  12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
  13. The side making the most points in that time is declared the winner.

Basketball Today

Basketball is today played by more than 300 million people worldwide, making it one of the most popular team sports. In North America, basketball has produced some of the most-admired athletes of the 20th century. Polls by ESPN and the Associated Press named basketball player Michael Jordan respectively first and second greatest North American athlete of the 20th century, and both polls featured fellow basketball players Wilt Chamberlain (of KU, like Naismith) and Bill Russell in the Top 20.


Wilt Chamberlain [bottom] only player to score triple digits in one game.

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