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James Naismith
James Naismith

     The game of basketball as we know it today was created by Dr. James Naismith. in December 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts to condition young athletes during cold months. It consisted of peach baskets and a soccer style ball. He published 13 rules for the new game. He divided his class of 18 into two teams of nine players each and set about to teach them the basics of his new game. The objective of the game was to throw the basketball into the fruit baskets nailed to the lower railing of the gym balcony. Every time a point was scored, the game was halted so the janitor could bring out a ladder and retrieve the ball. After a while, the bottoms of the fruit baskets were removed. The first public basketball game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 11, 1892.

Original Rules

There were only thirteen rules of "basket ball":

Dr. James Naismith's Original 13 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 (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 who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.

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

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player 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.

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

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time 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 not 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 of play 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 that side.

10. The umpire shall be 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 15-minute halves, with five minutes' rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

     On December 21, 1891, James Naismith published rules for a new game using five basic ideas and thirteen rules. That day, he asked his class to play a match in the Armoury Street court: 9 versus 9, using a soccer ball and two peach baskets. Frank Mahan, one of his students, wasn’t so happy. He just said: "Harrumph. Another new game". However, Naismith was the inventor of the new game. Someone proposed to call it "Naismith Game", but he suggested "We have a ball and a basket: why don’t we call it basketball?" The eighteen players were John G. Thompson, Eugene S. Libby, Edwin P. Ruggles, William R. Chase, T. Duncan Patton, Frank Mahan, Finlay G. MacDonald, William H. Davis and Lyman Archibald, who defeated George Weller, Wilbert Carey, Ernest Hildner, Raymond Kaighn, Genzabaro Ishikawa, Benjamin S. French, Franklin Barnes, George Day and Henry Gelan 1–0. The goal was scored by Chase. There were other differences between Naismith’s first idea and the game played today. The peach baskets were closed, and balls had to be retrieved manually, until a small hole was put in the bottom of the peach basket to poke the ball out using a stick. Only in 1906 were metal hoops, nets and backboards introduced. Moreover, earlier the soccer ball was replaced by a Spalding ball, similar to the one used today. Read more about the history of Basketball here.