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Basketball



Basketball is a ball sport in which, under organized rules, two teams of five players each try to score points by throwing a ball through a hoop.

It is primarily an indoor sport, played in a relatively small playing area, called the court. The speed and grace of the game, combined with the close proximity of the spectators to the action, make basketball an exciting spectator sport. It is one of the "major sports" of the United States, and is also popular in other parts of the world, including South America, Europe, Asia, and some former Soviet republics.

History

Early basketball
Basketball is unusual in that it was invented by one man, rather than evolving from a different sport. In 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian minister on the faculty of a college for YMCA professionals (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, sought a vigorous indoor game to keep young men occupied during the long New England winters. Legend has it that, after rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules, and nailed a peach basket onto the gym wall. The first official game was played in the YMCA gymnasium on January 20, 1892. Then, there were nine players on the court in a court just half the size of an NBA court. "Basket ball", the name suggested by one of his students, was popular from the beginning, and with its early adherents being dispatched to YMCAs throughout the United States, the game was soon played all over the country.

Interestingly, while the YMCA was responsible for initially developing and spreading the game, within a decade, it discouraged the new sport, as rough play and rowdy crowds began to detract from the YMCA's primary mission. Other amateur sports clubs, colleges, and professional clubs quickly filled the void. In the years before World War I, the Amateur Athletic Union and the Intercollegiate Athletic Association (forerunner of the NCAA) vied for control over the rules of the game.

Basketball was originally played with a soccer ball. The first balls made specially for basketball were brown, and it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle, searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and spectators alike, introduced the orange ball that is now in common use.

College basketball and early leagues Naismith himself was instrumental in establishing the college game, coaching at University of Kansas for six years before handing the reins to renowned coach Phog Allen. Naismith disciple Amos Alonzo Stagg brought basketball to the University of Chicago, while Adolph Rupp, a student of Naismith at Kansas, enjoyed great success as coach at the University of Kentucky. College leagues date back to the 1920s, and the first national championship tournament, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York, followed in 1938. College basketball was rocked by gambling scandals from 1948-1951, when dozens of players from top teams were implicated in game fixing and point-shaving. Partially spurred by the association of the NIT with many of the cheaters, the NCAA national tournament surpassed the NIT in importance. Today, the NCAA tournament it is rivaled only by the baseball World Series and the Super Bowl of American football in the American sports psyche.

In the 1920s, there were hundreds of professional basketball teams in towns and cities all over the United States. There was little organization to the professional game, as players jumped from team to team, and teams played in armories and smoky dance halls. Leagues came and went, and barnstorming squads such as the New York Rens and the Original Celtics played up to two hundred games a year on their national tours.

 
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