History of Basketball, original rules and time line

Before we get to learning about history of basketball , want to discuss the importance of it. The reason why I want to do this is so that you can understand what things are important to pick up when learning, so that you can maximize your knowledge.

Of course, I don’t want you to feel like this is a boring history class, so let’s get into the right mood from the start.

If you have ever asked one of your history teachers what’s the point of what you’re learning, you might get an answer similar to; so you don’t repeat the mistakes that people made. Well, that might not be the exact same case with basketball but that doesn’t mean it’s not as important.

Although you can’t really learn off the mistakes of other people who contributed to this sport, there is another way of learning from basketball history. That is, you can understand the game more fundamentally. But how?

Let’s put our-self in the inventor’s shoes and think of what our sport is about. With every great invention there is a main concept that other concepts are built on. If you’re looking to master the fundamentals, why not think like the person who invented them? Of course, you would need to read more to get deeper into that.

So now you’re ready to follow the the content in the table of content. And don’t be too stressed, we don’t have an exam at the end! Just sit and relax and get ready to learn a bit about the development of this great sport (okay maybe more than just a bit).

Who Invented Basketball and How It was Invented

Who Invented Basketball? Such a simple question but yet such a frequently asked one. There also many misconceptions about the inventor, like when did he invent it, what did he work as, was an accident or not, and was he American or Canadian? Well I’m going to answer all those questions.

Firstly, the inventor of basketball was named James Naismith. He was born in the year 1861 (in Almonte, Ontario, Canada so yes he was originally Canadian). Dr. James Naismith was a teacher at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

james naismithIn the winter of 1891 Dr. James Naismith was given a task to provide the men at the YMCA a indoor sport to play. There were outdoor sport such as soccer, baseball and football but since it was to cold to play outside they would have to move indoors. Of course, they couldn’t play those sports without destroying the gym and injuring themselves so Dr. James Naismith really had a difficult task.

But you might of guessed that he rose to the challenge. After a long brainstorm he came with a few ideas. It would be a game where they had a ball that players couldn’t run with, and there wasn’t any roughness like tackling. They would need to use accuracy to shoot the ball in a box. And that would be the start of it.

The next day Dr. James Naismith had asked the caretaker to give him two boxes. But the didn’t have any boxes but only two peach baskets (if it wasn’t for this coincidence basketball might have been boxball, but who knows). He then nailed the baskets 10 feet off the floor on a balcony and the men started to play.

Well, that’s how the game started, but of course that’s only the beginning of it, there’s much more to this sport story. You didn’t just learn who invented basketball, you learned how it was invented.

The First Basketball Rules

James Naismith had written the first basketball rules and there were 13 of them. Of course, if you know any of the modern basketball rules you know there not the same as these. Although this might seem like a long list, don’t worry, it really isn’t.

Read Things You Might Want to Know About Basketball

Dr. James Naismith wrote these exact rules (meaning they haven’t been changed).

The 13 Original Rules of Basketball

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.

3. 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.

4. The ball must be held by the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. 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.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violations of Rules 3 and 4 and such as described in Rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do no touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.

9. 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.

10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball 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.

12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.


And yes that concludes Dr. James Naismith’s list of the first basketball rules. Some of the them still apply today such as number 5 which talks about physical fouls.

Some of the first basketball rules seem ridiculous such as the fact that we cannot move with the ball, because dribbling is one of the main fundamentals of modern basketball. I think this rule was made because the ball used was a soccer ball and you if you’ve ever tried to bounce one you know it’s not that great.

Despite the fact that this list might be completely different then today’s, it’s still great thing that you learned the first basketball rules that were created.

The Entire History of Basketball

You’ve probably read the intro to the history of basketball and although you might have not learned anything about the history you’ve made it all the way here to do that. So thankfully I don’t need to delay you anymore and you can get started right now.

On December 21, 1891, Dr. James Naismith came up with the first thirteen rules of his sport and made the men at the YMCA play it for the first time. The game was nine vs. nine and was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets hung ten feet from the floor. By 1897 the standard number of players on each team was five.

And before we proceed further I want you to notify this is just the beginning to the history of basketball, I mean we still got a about a century to go, so from now on we will show the history of basketball with a timeline.

basketball history

History of basketball timeline

1892- Cylindrical baskets of heavy woven wire are introduced to eliminate peach baskets.

eavy woven wire are introduced to eliminate peach baskets.

1894- The soccer balls that were used were replaced by bigger, more bouncy, and easier to grip basketballs.

1895- Backboards were created so that fans can stop interfering with plays, the first use was the balconies that the hoops were hung on.

1898- The first pro league; the Nation Basketball League was formed with six teams but only lasted for 5 years.

1908- The dribbler was allowed to shoot the ball.

1920- The players were allowed to leave and re-enter the game which we now call substitution.

1923- The person who was fouled had to shoot instead of the original rule of where the designated shooter always took the free throws.

1925- The American Basketball League became the first major professional league but stops playing in the year 1931.

1932- The midcourt line is introduced to keep teams from wasting time.

1933- The American Basketball League plays again.

1937- The National Basketball League (from 1898) is formed once more. Also, the rule of having a jump ball at the center after each basket is eliminated.

1945- Defensive goaltending is banned. Players only foul out after 5 fouls unlike the previous 4 fouls, and the rule of three in the key.

1946- One of the most important years in the history of basketball is this year, when the Basketball Association of America was formed with 11 teams. Some of those teams include the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and the Philadelphia Warriors (which are now in Golden State). The first game was the New York Knickerbockers vs. the Toronto Huskies in Toronto.

1948- Four teams moved from the NBL to the BAA.

1949- The NBL was merged into the BAA and the name was changed into the National Basketball Association (NBA). It now had seventeen franchises.

1951- The first All-Star game was played. East 111, West 92.

1953- The American Basketball League stops playing leaving only the NBA.

1954- The NBA introduces the 24-second shot clock to avoid any stalling strategies.

1960- The Minneapolis Lakers become the first NBA team to move to the West Coast and became the Los Angeles Lakers.

1961- The American Basketball League begins play again and introduces the three-point shot.

1962- Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points against the NY Knicks, becoming one of the greatest individual achievements in the history of basketball.

1963- The American Basketball League disbands.

1967- The American Basketball Association is born with George Mikan as its first commissioner.

1974- Moses Malone becomes the first player to go directly from high school into the pros.

1976- The ABA is over, and bec1omes the last pro league other than the NBA. The NBA picks up four of the last ABA teams.

1979- The NBA adopts the 3-point field goal. Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics makes the first official 3-pointer.

1988- The NBA finally adds a third official for its games.

1992- Professional basketball players are allowed in the Olympics and the “Dream Team” (featuring Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson) is born.

1995 The NBA expands into Canada by adding the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies.

1997- The NBA three-point line is lengthened to its original distance of 23 feet, 9 inches (except in the corners, where the distance remains 22 feet).

Hope you learnt basketball basics about its history