How Was Basketball Created?

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It is hard to imagine a world without basketball. This popular sport is enjoyed by people of all ages and religions all over the globe. But how did this game come to be?

In this post, we will explore the origins of basketball and how it became a global phenomenon today.

What Is Basketball?

Basketball is a team sport where two teams try to score points by throwing or “shooting” a ball through the top of a hoop while following specific rules. The game takes place on an indoor or outdoor court, with five players per team. The game’s objective is to outscore the other team by shooting more baskets than them.

Basketball was invented in 1891 by a YMCA gym teacher named James Naismith as a less strenuous form of indoor exercise for young athletes to enjoy during the winter months.

He created 13 simple rules and divided his players into two teams of nine men, each to try to throw a soccer ball into the opposing team’s peach basket. The first game of basketball was played on December 21, 1891.

Differences Between Naismith’s Version & Today’s Modern Game

There were several differences between Naismith’s original concept and how the game is played today. For one, Naismith disallowed physical contact between players and the basketball’s dunking.

The peach baskets were also closed, meaning the ball had to be retrieved every time it went in. To make the task less arduous, they eventually created a small hole at the bottom of the peach basket to poke the ball out using a stick.

It wasn’t until 1894, when the soccer ball was replaced with a Spalding ball that the game really began to take shape.  During the game’s early years, the number of players on a single team depended on the number of students in the class and the size of the playing area.

Eventually, as popularity grew and more people became interested in playing basketball competitively, this number was reduced to five per team.

The Development of Basketball Worldwide

Since it was invented in Canada, the country was the first to enjoy the game. However, it wouldn’t take long for basketball to be introduced to the rest of the world.

Basketball was introduced to France in 1893 and to England a year later. By 1905, basketball had already been introduced to South America. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) was founded in 1932, with its primary purpose being to organize competitions between different countries.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed in 1946 and is one of the world’s most prominent professional sports leagues today. The NBA has 30 teams representing major cities across the United States and Canada.

Basketball has also become a major spectator sport, with basketball games taking center stage at many sporting events worldwide. The popularity of basketball continues to grow across the globe today. 

The game truly has the freedom to go beyond any cultural or linguistic boundaries and inspire people around the world to form their own unique understanding of what this game represents for them.

Pivotal Moments Of The Sport

There have been several pivotal moments that have helped shape the way basketball is played today.

1) The Founding of the NBA

In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed and rebranded itself as the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1950. This league brought together teams from across the country to compete against each other, making it easier for fans to follow the game.

2) The Introduction of the 24-Second Shot Clock

In 1954, the NBA introduced a new rule that stated each team had 24 seconds to take a shot at their basket or be penalized. This meant that teams needed to move the ball forward on offense to prevent it from being taken away from them. This new rule contributed to the increased pace of play and improved talent that the NBA began to enjoy.

3) The Coaching Legend Red Auerbach

In 1950, Red Auerbach became the head coach of the Boston Celtics, where he helped deliver nine championships for the team. In 1966, Auerbach became the Celtics’ general manager, which he served for more than 20 years.

Under Auerbach’s leadership, the Boston Celtics became one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA. Four of his players were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is widely revered as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NBA.

4) African-American Players join the NBA

In 1950, Chuck Cooper was drafted by the Boston Celtics. This made him the first African-American player to be drafted into the NBA and its first black player. The number of black players joining the league increased, making it more diverse and inclusive.

5) Introduction of the Slam Dunk Competition

1976 saw the first Slam Dunk competition held in Denver, Colorado, during halftime of the ABA All-Star Game. The slam dunk became one of the most famous plays in basketball. It helped develop a new surge in interest for the sport after fans witnessed Julius Erving perform incredible dunks during this competition.

6) Larry Bird and Magic Johnson

In 1978, a rookie named Larry Bird was drafted into the Boston Celtics. He became one of the best players in NBA history and is widely considered one of the all-time greats in this sport. During his time with the Celtics, he helped deliver three championships.

In 1979, another promising rookie was drafted into the Los Angeles Lakers. This player was Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and he also became one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. Like Larry Bird, Johnson helped deliver several championships for his team while playing there and is also considered an all-time great of the sport.

7) Michael Jordan makes his debut

In 1984, Michael Jordan was drafted into the Chicago Bulls, where he served as the team’s shooting guard and small forward. He went on to help this team win six championships during his time with them and is widely considered the greatest basketball player in the history of the sport.


Though the game has changed a lot since Dr. Naismith first invented it, basketball continues to be one of America’s favorite pastimes because it is a fast-paced and exciting sport that anyone can play. With its popularity only continuing to grow, there’s no doubt that basketball will be around for many years to come.