Seemingly second only to football, basketball is one of the most popular team sports played worldwide. Although it has become widely-known for the money-spinning NBA league in America, the sport is played all over the world, with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) contributing greatly with the growth in global popularity of the game. Who was it that set the ball rolling, though?
Although the sport is generally credited as an American creation, it was Dr James Naismith, a Canadian, who designed the first concept of this team sport in December 1891. He was at that time a YMCA Training School instructor in the City of Springfield in Massachusetts (USA, one of the reasons that the sport is seen as American-made). His primary purpose for inventing the game was to give his students an indoor game that offered a good workout, and an enjoyable alternative when the extremely cold weather struck during the winter.
For this reason, the game of basketball was originally played exclusively indoors. The term ‘basketball’ came from the fact that Dr Naismith first used a peach basket, nailed to the wall at 10ft high. Players shoot (throw) the ball inside the basket in order to score points, though the ball originally had to be retrieved manually, until someone decided to solve this problem by cutting a hole under the basket. The use of peach basket lasted until 1906. After that, it was replaced by backboards and metal hoops, just like in the basketball as it is today, signalling the start of the development into the sport as it is today, with the key rules of the game including multiple-point scoring, and the limit of 5 players on court at a time for a team, with 4 periods of 12 minutes (overtime if needed) deciding the winners.
Legendary NBA players such as Wilt ‘the stilt’ Chamberlin, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan helped the sport gain new levels of popularity, and it is now played on a global scale, with continental and international tournaments, as well as the NBA (and female counterparts such as the WNBA), showcasing the best in the world, with other leagues starting to be held in high regard.
The development of the game of basketball has led to several variations (played either formally or informally), with historic ones like netball or 1-on-1, or modern slants, such as street, 3-on-3, slamball, or water basketball. The ‘entertainment’ factor of the NBA has also led to skill challenges in special events such as ‘All-Star Weekend’, which include obstacle courses, long-range shots, and the well-publicised slam dunk challenge.
A type of street basketball which has become a big hit for recreation, and internet video viewers, is the trick shot, with one group in particular standing out above the rest. ‘Dude Perfect’ have released a number of entertaining videos, and this one, filmed on a summer camp, shows just how much fun trick shots can be with some creativity: