Basketball Facts

An official orange ball on a hardwood basketball court

The game of basketball has evolved considerably since the game was invented. Today, technology and innovation has made the game and its equipment improve from the quaint basketball game invented by James Naismith. Here are some of the top basketball facts about the game and it’s evolution

What is the history of the basketball?

For the first two years after Canadian born Physical Education teacher Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts soccer balls were used as the balls. In 1894, the first basketball was manufactured and made of laced leather. The molded version of a basketball was invented in 1948 and for about 50 years almost all basketballs were made of genuine leather. In the early 1990s, the first balls made of high-tech composite leathers began to appear. The NBA switched to a composite leather design in 2006, but the changes lasted only three months because of a barrage of complaints from players.

What is the history of the backboard?

The first basketball hoops were peach baskets nailed to an elevated track. The peach basket hoop was replaced by a metal rim and netting about a decade after the sport was invented. The netting was closed at the bottom, so much like the peach basket, players had to climb up and retrieve the ball from the net each time someone scored. However, by 1906, the bottom of the net was cut out to allow the ball to fall through the hoop. The first modern basketballs were made from pieces of leather stitched together with a rubber bladder inside.

When did competitive basketball start?

James Naismith published the thirteen rules of basketball on December 21, 1891. And it was very different. For example, early basketball did not include dribbling and most fouls were tackling or carrying the ball. When first introduced, it was received with little enthusiasm, but interest grew quickly. By 1892, basketball was played by many schools as the 'New Game'. Many proposed to call the game "Naismith Ball," but James insisted that since they had a ball and a basket, they should call it basketball.

Basketball was introduced to the YMCA in 1893. In the early 1900s, a backboard was added to the game, along with hoops and nets. The first European match was played in Paris in 1893, while other people brought the sport to China, Japan and India. During WWI, as U.S soldiers fought overseas, the game spread, paving a way for easy acceptance of the sport.

When was the NBA founded?

In 1946, owners of ice hockey arenas in the U.S and Canada founded the most popular professional basketball league, the Basketball Association of America, or BAA. Later, the name would be changed to the National Basketball Association or NBA. The first game was played at the Maple Leaf Gardens, where the Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers. Ossie Schectman made the first basket in NBA history. In 1947, Wataru Misaka became the first Asian to play in the NBA. Later, in 1950, Harold Hunter became the first African American to enter the NBA. In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain set the record for most points scored in an NBA game with 100 with 36 field goals made and 28 free throws made as well.

The NBA's popularity grew over time. NBA players like Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson joined the league, drawing international attention. Their rivalry and the greater Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers rivalry made waves in sports. In 1984, all-star Michael Jordan, one of the most celebrated players since the league's creation, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. The Dream Team was formed in 1992 bringing together America’s best basketball players for the Olympic Games. In 1995, the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors joined the NBA, making them the first international NBA teams. As of now the Boston Celtics lead the NBA in championships with eighteen.

When did college basketball start?

College basketball technically started when the sport was invented at Springfield College but it would become popular in the ensuing years. By 1900, numerous Eastern colleges had men’s basketball teams that were playing each other, and Naismith was coaching the University of Kansas basketball program. Games had far fewer points than 21st century games, partly because teams had no shot clock. In the first doubleheader at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in 1934, New York University beat Notre Dame 25-18 and Westminster beat St. John’s 37-33. In 1936, several college players were on the U.S. team that beat Canada 19-8 in the first Olympics gold-medal game.

When was the first college basketball tournament?

Hank Luisetti changed the game when he invented the running one-hand jump shot, which replaced the standing two-hand set shot that a number of players used. Luisetti, a Stanford University freshman, scored 70 points in two games in 1936. This led to Stanford playing games attended by more than 17,000 people at Madison Square Garden. In 1938, the National Invitation Tournament became the first national tournament. Every NIT was at Madison Square Garden. In 1939, the National Collegiate Athletic Association started an eight-team tourney, opting to play at a different site each year. Oregon won the first tourney in Evanston, Ill.

What is the difference between an NBA basketball vs an NCAA basketball?

NBA or professional balls and NCAA or college balls have similarities and differences. NBA balls are made of genuine leather and college balls are made of a composite material. NBA balls are made by Spalding and must be orange, 29-1/2 inches around, and they must weigh 22 oz. The NBA ball must be inflated between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces per square inch. The official basketball of the NCAA tournament is the composite leather Wilson Solution. The NCAA requires balls to be between 29-1/2 and 30 inches around, to weigh between 20 and 22 oz., and to bounce between 49 and 54 inches when dropped from a height of 6 feet.

What are Women's Basketballs?

Women's NBA and women's college balls have basically the same dimensions. Both are required to be 28-1/2 to 29 inches in circumference and weigh 18 to 20 oz. Spalding manufactures WNBA balls and Wilson manufactures the official NCAA ball. The only other difference is that the NCAA adds on a requirement that the ball bounce between 51 and 56 inches when dropped from 6 feet. Both the professional and college models are made of composite leather materials.

Who are the main Basketball Manufacturers?

Spalding was the first company to produce a basketball for official use. Spalding is the official ball of the NBA and has made the genuine leather NBA models since 1983. Spalding also makes composite balls used in high school and some college play. Wilson, based in Chicago, is the official ball of the NCAA. Wilson models are used by many high schools across the country as well. Molten, a Japanese company, has made the official balls for FIBA international play such as the Olympics for more than 20 years.