The Canadian doctor Jame Naismith was an educator who specialised in physical education at the at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. On rainy day, so the story goes, he was endeavouring to keep his gym class busy and doing sport and so he needed a game that could be played indoors and year round.
He wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.0 m) elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored. This meant that initially a team player had to stand on a ladder and retrieve the ball every time someone scored. Needless to say, this proved inefficient so the bottom of the basket was removed, allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.
Basketball was originally played with a football/soccer ball. It wasn’t until much later, that balls were made especially for basketball. They were brown and it wasn’t until more than half a century later that Tony Hinkle decided to give the balls their familiar orange colour so that both the spectators and the athletes themselves would have an easier time following the ball. Surprising to any modern fan of the game, dribbling was not part of the early basketball with the except of the “bounce pass”. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. It wasn’t until the 1950s, round the same time that the balls got their orange colour that dribbling became institutionalised as the primary mode of movement for the balls.
The peach baskets however, were phased out much, much earlier in the history of the sport — in 1906 — when they were replaced by metal hoops with backboards. Another design change was added so that instead of having to have a person manually remove the ball or poke it out with a long stick, as was common, the ball would merely pass through the hoop. The scoring was more or less the same as it is today: one point was scored every time the ball pass through the hoop (from top to bottom) and the team with the most points won the match.
The backboard was an addition that prevented spectators from interfering in the game, as it was common, before the backboard, for spectators to try to influence the game by knocking the ball away from the backboard as the spectators sat in the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, where the basket were initially mounted. It had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots. Naismith’s diaries were discovered by his granddaughter a century later 2006,and showed he was sceptibal about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children’s game called “Duck on a Rock”. Naismith called the new game “Basket Ball”.