Many of us can’t imagine our lives without the game of basketball being front and center. From playing to watching, basketball captures the attention of fans all over the world. The game as we know it has only been around for a little over a hundred years; read on to see how this great sport developed.


MoneyBallBody1While the game of basketball as we know it started in 1891, games involving balls and hoops date further back. The Mayan culture had a game that combined elements of basketball and soccer, where players attempted to get a ball through a round stone circle using any part of their body besides their hands. Of course, in this game the winner got to be sacrificed to the gods, basketball champions today just get to celebrate! The creation of basketball is credited to Canadian Dr. James Naismith who was a physical education instructor at the YMCA in Springfield Massachusetts. In 1891 he was looking for a sport to condition athletes during the cold winter months, and looking for a game that wouldn’t lead to as many injuries as football.


The first game of basketball utilized a soccer ball and peach baskets for hoops. The baskets were attached to the wall, and if anyone did score, the play would have to stop while the janitor brought out a ladder and retrieved the ball. The bottoms of the peach baskets were eventually removed. The first person recorded as scoring in a basketball game was William R. Chase, and that first game ended with a final score of 1-0 (how things have changed!).


Naismith fashioned those first teams with 9 players each, which was usual for baseball teams of the day. There were thirteen rules he established for this newly formed game, many of which he formed to avoid roughhousing and injury. One of these rules was that there was no running while holding the ball; this avoided the tackling and grabbing found in other sports. Of his 13 original rules there are 9 that are still used in some form in modern basketball.


Naismith’s involvement with the YMCA was instrumental in spreading this new game of basketball around the world. The troops fighting in World War I also took basketball where they were stationed, and interest in the game grew quickly. In 1894 Spalding made the first basketball that was specifically designed for the game; this original ball had laces, and would go through several modifications before becoming what is played with today.


MoneyBallBody2The first professional basketball leagues were formed in 1898 and featured six teams that competed for the championship. While these leagues grew and changed over the years, it was really American colleges that paved the way for the popularity of the sport. In 1897 the National Collegiate Athletic Association was formed, and the NCAA is still extremely popular today.


Basketball was also becoming popular in Europe, and in 1909 the first international basketball match was held between Saint Petersburg and an American YMCA team. In 1932 the International Basketball Federation was formed and they were instrumental in getting basketball into the Olympics in 1936; the US national team won the first Olympic title in the sport.


The National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed in 1945, and for about a decade had a rival in the American Basketball Association (ABA). The ABA had a different style of game that was more high energy and emphasized jumping and playing above the rim. The ABA also utilized the threepoint shot, and when the ABA folded into the more successful NBA in 1976, the NBA adopted this shot and some of the style of the ABA. The NBA is the most popular professional basketball league in the world, and has helped to popularize basketball throughout the world.


So from humble roots, basketball has grown to be a wildly popular game. Those early peach baskets have given way to metal rims and nets that witness amazing feats of athleticism and strength. Basketball legends like Michael Jordan, and modern day superstars like Steph Curry keep the game exciting and fresh, and the style of play is constantly evolving. If you have a basketball team in need of custom uniforms to match your excitement and love of the sport, Moneyball Sportswear has you covered! Contact us to get started on a custom basketball team uniform today!