Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2011

Basketball nearly 120 years old

March 24, 2011

The game of basketball will be 120 years old in December.

Hard to believe basketball was only 50 years old when I started playing. James A. Naismith was born in Ontario, Canada in 1861 and studied physical education in Montreal before moving to the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass. While he was at Springfield, he was looking for an indoor team sport with limited body contact but a lot of running, jumping, and shooting.

The original balls were soccer balls and he hung two bottomless peach baskets on each end of the gym. This is where the name comes from, and he wrote a set of 13 rules that governed the game.

The soccer balls were used for two years from 1891 to 1893. In 1894 came the first manufactured basketball. It was made of laced leather and weighed 20 ounces. The first molded ball that eliminated the need for laces was in 1948. Therefore, all the time I played basketball in grade and high school, we had the laces.

Basketball was popular and spread all over the world but sort of died down during the depression. It picked up again by the end of World War II.

Mr. Naismith studied medicine in Denver and became an M.D. in 1898 before moving to the University of Kansas. There he was a faculty member and part time basketball coach. He also served as athletic director of the Kansas Jayhawks. He died in 1939.

In 1948 I took by brother Bill to Kansas City to watch the new NBA games at the Municipal Auditorium. At that time they were former college players that were sort of out of shape but could really shoot that basket.

The truly good winning team has a great defense. You have to have a good defense in order to get the ball back to start your offense. Only one player can have the ball in hand at one time. The players without the ball are really more important than the player with the ball because they are the ones that are cutting to get open and setting screens on defensive players. True basketball “in my mind” is when the ball is quickly passed between three players and then into the basket…

I love the game and hope your favorite team makes The Final Four.


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