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James Naismith
The start of a new game - Dr James Naismith 1891

James Naismith was only 30 years old when he invented a sort of odd game in a YMCA gym in 1891.


Born and raised in Almonte Ontario Canada, Dr. James Naismith was a second year student and a teacher at the International Training School of Young Men’s Christian Association, YMCA, in Springfield Massachusetts in 1891.


James Naismith was instructing young men wrestling, boxing, swimming and rowing to lads training to become physical education teachers.


One morning James Naismith asked the school’s janitor whether he had two boxes about 18 inches square.  ‘No,’ the janitor replied, ‘I haven’t any boxes, but I’ll tell you what I do have.  I have two old peach baskets, down in the storeroom if they will do you any good.’  Thus did the new game miss being called boxball.  James Naismith asked the janitor to get the baskets and a ladder.  Mounting the ladder, he nailed a basket to the lower rail of the gymnasium’s balcony at both ends of the 65 by 45 foot gym. 


It happened that the balcony rail was 10 feet above the gym floor, establishing the basket’s height for the ages (although there have been attempts to raise it).  James Naismith then wrote the rules for the new game on a scratch pad and asked the school stenographer to type them. 


The rules were:


The ball to be an ordinary Association football (soccer ball)…

The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands…The ball may be battered in any direction with one or both hands (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 who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.


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, or striking, in any way, the person of an opponent shall be allowed; 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 substitute allowed.


A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3, 4, and such as described in Rule 5…If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents.  (Consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul.


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 not touch or disturb the goal.  If the ball rests on the edge and the opponent moves 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 person first touching it.  In case of a 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 the 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 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.


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 case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.


James Naismith appointed two captains and had them choose sides.  The nine men on each team were designated as three forwards, three centers, and three backs who were chiefly defensemen.  The first game got under way when James Naismith threw up the soccer ball between two opposing centers.  ‘It was the start of the first basketball game and the finish of the trouble with that class,’ James Naismith wrote in his book, Basketball:  Its Origin and Development, published 50 years after the first game.  ‘The game was a success from the time the first ball was tossed up,’ he added.  ‘The players were interested and seemed to enjoy the game.  Word soon got around that they were having fun in James Naismith’s gym class, and only a few days after the first game we began to have a gallery.’



James Naismith the inventor of basketball


The One-handed Shot of Hank Luisetti
The game of basketball was changed completely during the 1930s by Hank Luisetti and his one handed shot.

The One-handed Shot in the 1930s of Hank Luisetti


Basketball History presented by Joe Balazs


The following by Jack Orr of the SPORT Magazine, March 1962


‘It hardly seems possible today, but basketball was once a slow-moving, low-scoring game.  A college kid with a ‘crazy’ shot changed it forever.


Once upon a time---and you young guys aren’t going to believe this---the total score of a basketball game was frequently 25 points or less.  In 1926, for instance, City College of New York beat Villanova, 11-9, and lost a tough one to Carnegie The, 13-12.  City also beat Dickinson, 15-7, and in a high-scoring game, defeated Temple, 15-14.


Then, one day 26 years ago, a young kid named Angelo Enrico (Hank) Luisetti came out of the West and did for basketball what Babe Ruth did for baseball and what Red Grange did for football.  That is, he revolutionized the game.  Playing for Stanford University, he made the one-handed shot famous---and basketball hasn’t been the same since.


There are those who say Luisetti was the best player ever.  ‘I can’t remember anybody who could do more things,’ Clair Bee, one of the best of the basketball coaches, said not long ago.  ‘He was an amazing marksman, a spectacular dribbler and an awfully clever passer,’ said Nat Holman, one of the Original Celtics.  ‘The thing I remember about him,’ said Joe Lapchick, another old Celtic, ‘was his uncanny ability to control the ball while going at top speed.’


‘He was as far ahead of his time as Bob Cousy is ahead of the others today.’ said Pic Picariello, a Long Island University coach who goes back 35 years or so.  In a poll of sportswriters taken a few years ago to determine the best basketball player of the half-century, only George Mikan drew more votes than Luisetti.


The game that made Luisetti took place December 29, 1936.  Stanford came into Madison Square Garden that night to play Long Island University.  New York was the capital of basketball in those days.  The country’s best college teams were the New York schools and the best of them all in 1936 was LIU, which had won an unprecedented 43 games in a row.  LIU was a slick ball-handling team.  Its players could shoot from the outside to open up an opponent’s defenses, and when they had succeeded in doing that, they could pass them dizzy under the basket.  Furthermore, the LIU team---coached by Bee---was fiery and tenacious on defense.


Stanford, coached by John Bunn, had done well on the West Coast.  Luisetti’s scoring had amazed Californians and newspaper reports raving about his shooting had preceded him East.  But New York fans were skeptical.  Sure he’s good, they said, but we’ve seen wonder teams before.  They come into the Garden and they fold.  So what if he does average 22 points a game?  (An unbelievable figure in those days when there was a time-consuming center jump after every basket.)  We’ll contain him.


At the beginning of the game, it looked as if the New York fans were right, LIU scored first, Stanford missed its first shot and then LIU sunk a foul.  Ho hum, said the Garden customers.  Another West Coast flop.  They settled back to watch big Art Hillhouse and his LIU teammates take apart Stanford.


But suddenly things began to happen.  It was unbelievable the way the Stanfords shot.  Remember, no Easterner had seen this kind of basketball.  Luisetti, began popping them one handed.  Now everybody knew that the only way to shoot from outside was with two hands gripping the ball firmly.  By halftime Stanford was in front by eight points, as substantial possibly as a 30-point lead today.


In the second half Stanford University pulled away to an implausible 45-31 victory.’


One handed jump shot – by basketballhistorian.com

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