From hum­ble be­gin­nings as hoops cel­e­brates 125th birth­day

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MAS­SACHUSETTS: A game drawn up to oc­cupy some bored boys as win­ter ap­proached at a Mas­sachusetts gym­na­sium cel­e­brated its 125th an­niver­sary yes­ter­day and bas­ket­ball’s sta­tus as the world’s sec­ond most pop­u­lar sport.

Bas­ket­ball be­gan on Dec 21, 1891 at the Young Men’s Chris­tian As­so­ci­a­tion (YMCA) gym in Spring­field with rules made up by Cana­dian phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tor James Nai­smith.

Last year more than one bil­lion peo­ple watched Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pro­gram­ming, said NBA Deputy Com­mis­sioner Mark Ta­tum, who helps pre­side over the world’s pre­em­i­nent ‘hoops’ league.

Spring­field’s Nai­smith Memo­rial Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame marked the an­niver­sary with cel­e­bra­tions in­clud­ing a Birth­day of Bas­ket­ball col­lege dou­ble­header fea­tur­ing Auburn, Bos­ton Col­lege, Fair­field and Ok­la­homa at Mo­he­gan Sun Arena in Con­necti­cut.

Nai­smith re­called the sport’s prim­i­tive be­gin­nings in a New York ra­dio in­ter­view in 1939. “I called the boys to the gym, di­vided them up into teams of nine and gave them a lit­tle soc­cer ball,” he said.

“I showed them two peach bas­kets I’d nailed up at each end of the gym (about 10 feet above the floor), and I told them the idea was to throw the ball into the op­pos­ing team’s peach bas­ket.

“I blew the whis­tle, and the first game of bas­ket­ball be­gan.” Run­ning with the ball was not al­lowed, only pass­ing or di­rect­ing it with the hand to­ward a team mate or the bas­ket. Drib­bling and other de­vel­op­ments came over time.

The new game quickly caught on af­ter Nai­smith’s 13 ini­tial rules were spread by the YMCA’s news­let­ter. By 1894 bas­ket­ball was be­ing played in France, China, In­dia and more than a dozen other coun­tries.

It be­came a fa­vorite in schools, col­lege cam­puses and play­grounds, and at the Olympics and in pro­fes­sional leagues across the globe.

The NBA in­cludes in­ter­na­tional play­ers from 41 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries - a con­tin­gent mak­ing up more than 25 per­cent of the league.

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