History of basketball

James Naismith, the invention and the first spreading

The invention of basketball is one of the simplest sport histories to draw. His “father”, James Naismith, left a great number of diaries and interviews that explain clearly how and when he created this sport. He was a Canadian teacher, born in Almonte on the 16th of November 1861 [Mario Arceri, Valerio Bianchini, "La leggenda del basket", Baldini Castoldi Dalai, Milano, 2005, p. 14.] . He became an orphan soon and his uncle led him to study Hebraism and philosophy to become a priest. He graduated at McGill University, Montreal [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 15.] , in 1887 (it was the first graduation of eleven), but at the college he discovered sports: he played in the American football team for eight years, even when he studied at the Presbyterian College in Montreal. But he dropped out in 1890, to become a teacher at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 16.] . There, Luther Hasley Gulick, the creator of the local “Physicians Education” course [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 13.] , asked him to invent a new indoor game, which could be played during the cold winter [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 14.] . He started to work on it on December 1891. He wrote that he took some idea from other sports: when he was young, he played with his friends «some kind of game in which most of the group joined.

Professional leagues, teams and organisations

As said, the first professional league was founded in 1898. Six teams took part to the National League and the first champions were Trenton Nationals, followed by New York Wanderers, Bristol Pile Drivers and Camden Electrics. The league was abandoned in 1904 [ Hoosierhistorian, National Basket Ball League, «Hoopedia», 9 maggio 2008, in http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php/National_Basket_Ball_League.] . Then, many small championships were organized, but most of them were not as important as some teams who played for money in every place. The Original Celtics, for instance, are considered «fathers of modern basketball [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 37.] » and were presented as «World’s Basketball Champions [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 37.] »: the players had to sign a contract to play with them and the manager, Jim Furey, organised matches as a circus, changing a town a day. They became the strongest team, but the successes lasted from 1922 until 1928, when the team disbanded due to owners problems. Original Celtics are forefathers of the Boston Celtics, a N.B.A. team. In 1922, another professional team was founded: the Rens (also known as Ney York Renaissance or Harlem Renaissance), the first all-blacks team [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 38.] . The Rens were the Original Celtics’ usual opponent and for their matches a ticket cost 1$ [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 39.] . They took part to some official championship and won the first World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1939 [ Smith03, World Professional Basketball Tournament, «Wikipedia», 14 ottobre 2006, in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Professional_Basketball_Tournament.] . The team failed in 1949. Between 1920s and 1930s, Eastern Basket Ball League (founded in 1909 [ Hoosierhistorian, Eastern Basket Ball League, «Hoopedia», 9 maggio 2008, in http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php/Eastern_Basket_Ball_League.] ), Metropolitan Basketball League (founded in 1921 [ Hoosierhistorian, Metropolitan Basketball League, «Hoopedia», 12 maggio 2008, in http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php/Metropolitan_Basketball_League.] ) and American Basketball League (founded in 1925 [ Hoosierhistorian, ABL (1925-1955), «Hoopedia», 12 maggio 2008, in http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php/ABL_%281925-1955%29.] ) are the most important leagues, but the great part of the activity is done in the colleges. Naismith brought basketball in the University of Kansas, his students Stagg and Rupp to Chicago and Kentucky. In February 1895, Minnesota State School of Agriculture and Hamline University play the first intercollegiate match (won 9-3 by Minnesota). In that period, Amateur Athletic Union takes the organisation of the collegiate activity. In 1905, Yale was disqualified and some universities created the Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which become National Collegiate Athletic Union (N.C.A.A.) in 1908 [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 45.] . For thirty years, there are many conferences: they are small state championships. The NCAA creates an United States championship in 1939, adding the play-offs at the end of each conference [ Hoosierhistorian, NoseNuggets, NCAA Division I Men's Tournament, «Hoopedia», 21 aprile 2008, in http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php/NCAA_Division_I_Men%27s_Tournament.] . About American activity, it is necessary to add that in 1949 the Basketball Association of America become the National Basketball Association (N.B.A.), the most important professional league of the world in terms of popularity, salaries, talent, and level of competition [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 49.] . After his arrival in Europe, basketball developed very quickly. In 1909 there was the first international match in Saint Petersburg: Mayak Saint Petersburg beat a YMCA American team [ Arceri-Bianchini, p. 81.] . The first great European event was held in Joinville-le-Pont, near Paris, during the Allies Military Olympic Games. United States won against Italy and France, and then Italy beat France: basketball soon became popular among French and Italians. The Italian team had a white shirt with the House of Savoy shield and the players were: Arrigo and Marco Muggiani, Baccarini, Giuseppe Sessa, Palestra, Pecollo and Bagnoli [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 133.] . World basketball was growing but it is on the 18th June 1932 that a real organisation starts to coordinate tournaments and teams: that day, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland founded the International Basketball Federation (Fédération internationale de basket-ball amateur, F.I.B.A.) in Geneva [History of FIBA, in http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/FIBA/fibaHist/p/openNodeIDs/987/selNodeID/987/bday.html.] . Its work was fundamental to include basketball in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936, won by the U.S. national team: Sam Balter, Ralph Bishop, Joe Fortenberry, Tex Gibbons, Francis Johnson, Carl Knowles, Frank Lubin, Art Mollner, Donald Piper, Jack Ragland, Willard Schmidt, Carl Shy, Duane Swanson, Bill Wheatley and the trainer James Needles [Casmiki, Jed, Alfiobot, QuoBot, Filbot, ZeroBot, Valerio LG, Squattaturi, SieBot, Simo82, Rei-bot, Ysogo, BotSimo82, Gvnn, Osk, CommonsDelinker, IagaBot, 2diPikke, Pallacanestro alle olimpiadi estive 1936, «Wikipedia», 11 luglio 2008, in http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallacanestro_alle_olimpiadi_estive_1936.] . The first World Championship is held in Argentina in 1950 [Arceri-Bianchini, p. 185.] .


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