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Home - Dr. James Naismith

  Dr. James Naismith

james naismith(November 6, 1861 – November 28, 1939) The father of basketball was a high school dropout who eventually earned four college degrees. Dr. James A. Naismith was a modest man who neither sought publicity nor engaged in self-promotion. He was a remarkably versatile and humble man who in 1891 invented a game that is now played by more people than any game in the world.

It's doubtful that even Naismith's creative mind could have envisioned his game's vast global popularity little more than a century later, or a National Basketball Association consisting of 30 teams spanning North America. All he was seeking was an indoor activity that would provide an outlet for sometimes-unruly students during the long, cold New England winters.

In late 1891, Dr. Luther Halsey Gulick Jr., the superintendent of physical education at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Mass., challenged Naismith to create a new indoor game "that would be interesting, easy to learn, and easy to play in the winter and by artificial light." Naismith reflected on popular games of the day (baseball, football, lacrosse, rugby and soccer) and the games from his childhood (duck on a rock), and assembled the pieces that would become Basket Ball. It would be 30 years before it would be shortened to one word.

Naismith had the school janitor, Pop Stebbins, nail two peach baskets to the lower rail of the gymnasium balcony, one at each end, while the secretary, Mrs. Lyons, typed the original 13 rules. Then he nervously awaited his students' arrival.

"There were 18 in the class," Naismith said years later. "I selected two captains and had them choose sides. I placed the men on the floor. There were three forwards, three centers and three backs on each team. I chose two of the center men to jump, then threw the ball between them. It was the start of the first basketball game and the finish of trouble with that class."

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