The first official game was played in the YMCA gymnasium on January 20, 1892 with nine players. The game ended at 1-0; the shot was made from 25 feet (7.6 m), on a court just half the size of a present-day Streetball or National Basketball Association (NBA) court.
It all started in early December 1891 when James Naismith get orders from Dr. Luther Gulick, head of Physical Education at the School for Christian Workers. James Naismith had 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide an “athletic distraction” for a rowdy class through the brutal New England winter.
James Naismith devised a set of thirteen rules of basketball:
- The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
- The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
- 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 running at good speed.
- The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
- No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking 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 goal is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
- A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.
- If either side make three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).
- Goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edge and the opponents move the basket, it shall count as a goal.
- When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field 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 them.
- The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have the power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
- The referee shall be the judge of the ball and decide when it 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 goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
- The time shall be two 15-minute halves with five minutes’ rest between.
- The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners.
In addition to the creation of the basketball, James Naismith graduated as a medical doctor, primarily interested in sports physiology and what we would today call sports science and as Presbyterian minister, with a keen interest in philosophy and clean living. Naismith watched his sport, basketball, introduced in many nations by the YMCA movement as early as 1893. Basketball was introduced at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Naismith was flown to Berlin to watch the games. He died in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1939.
Today basketball has grown to become one of the world’s most popular sports.