125 years ago today, Basketball was born

ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 21, 2016 12:26 PM
125 years ago today, Basketball was born
It all started on a cold winter day with Dr. James Naismith at Springfield, Massachusetts (Photo courtesy of Springfield College).

As much as skeptics say that basketball is not for Filipinos, our country absolutely loves the sport, no question about it.

And for our undying passion for that game with a bunch of guys trying to fight over one ball in order to put it through some hoop, we have one man to thank. And that man is of course Dr. James Naismith.

The good doctor invented the game on this day 125 years ago at the then YMCA College in Springfield, Massachusetts. With the winter of 1891 proving to be too cold for any sort of outdoor sport, Naismith thought of something that could be played indoors.

An old soccer ball and a couple of peach baskets later, the game we now know as basketball was born. And we thank Dr. Naismith for it.

"I buried myself arranging the apparatus all the time watching the boys as they arrived to observe their attitude that day," Naismith wrote in one of his journals recovered by his granddaughter Hellen Carpenter back in 2006.

Naismith was preparing the gym where the supposed first game of basketball was to be played over a century ago.

"I felt this was a crucial moment in my life as it meant success or failure of my attempt to hold interest of the class and devise a new game," Naismith wrote.

Since its inception, basketball received mixed reviews at first before slowly turning into the global juggernaut that it is today.

Part of the sport's growing pains included actual pain as players were playing more football than what Naismith had envisioned.

"The boys began tackling, kicking and punching in the clenches. They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. Before I could pull them apart, one boy was knocked out, several of them had black eyes and one had a dislocated shoulder," Naismith said in a 1939 radio interview in New York that was found by a University of Kansas professor by the name of Michael Zogry.

Rules were later added and revised to separate basketball from others and as they say, the rest is history.

Basketball was an Olympic demonstration sport in 1904 and 1924 before it became part of the actual Olympic program in 1936. FIBA was founded four years earlier in 1932.

10 years after basketball became an official Olympic sport, the National Basketball Association was founded in New York City in June of 1946. Locally, the Philippine Basketball Association opened its doors in 1975 following on the footsteps of the old Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA).

As for Naismith, the good doctor also later founded the University of Kansas basketball program, one of the most successful in history with NCAA national titles in six Finals and 14 Final Fours.

Naismith died in 1939 but before he finally laid to rest, he knew that the sport he invented wold turn into something big.

"Up until then, he'd just thought of it as a little game," Carpenter said.


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