Basketball - A Game That Touched Millions

By: Barney Garcia

Basketball as a game needs no introduction. Legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 'Magic' Johnson and Michael Jordan have achieved cult-status, both, within U.S.A and outsides. However, this fascinating game that went on to be the darling of the world began, rather innocuously.

It was December, 1891. Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physician of McGill University and minister on the faculty of Springfield College, Massachusetts, U.S.A was worried about the long New England winters. Well, not exactly. He was preoccupied with the indolent state of his students. They were not to be blamed. The cold broke the back of the best.

He tweaked his mind for something that would beat the cold. He had a brainwave. It would be a game. And the game was basketball!

He was wrong on one account, though. Basketball did not remain a simple game meant for winter. It went on to became a passion that touched millions.

The research activists claim that Dr Naismith had evolved the basics of a Mayan game and written his own rules. What is interesting in this respect is the fact that the archetypal baskets had a bottom, totally unlike the modern counterparts. The balls that went into the basket had to be poked out.

It became popular, quite fast. The women's version of the game started the next year, in 1892. Senda Berenson, a physical education teacher at Smith's College modified the rules for the women's version.

It may be hard to believe but the first basketball games used soccer balls. The balls that were made for the game were brown in color. It was not until the late 1950's when the orange balls that have become a common sight now, made an appearance. The credit goes to one Tony Hinkle.

Dribbling did not form a part of the game's original ball movement. The bounce-pass was there but the predominant way of movement was by passing the ball. The asymmetric shape of the early ball limited the evolution of this one act that is the cornerstone of the modern play.

The game spilled over from schools and colleges to become a national rage. As a result, the NBA or the National Basketball Association came into fore. The N.B.A organized the professional game and today the N.B.A has become synonymous with basketball. The first professional game took place between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers. The place was Toronto, Canada and the date was November 1, 1946.

From 2001, the NBA has formed a developmental league called the NBDL.

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