Basketball Was Originally Played With Soccer Balls
By Chad Upton
The NBA has one Canadian team and 29 American teams. This is kind of fitting since basketball was invented by one Canadian teaching many students at what is now Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. The game was invented out of the need for entertaining exercise to occupy his students during the long North Eastern winters.
The nets were originally Peach baskets and the ball was retrieved by ladder after each “basket”. That obviously grew old quickly and a hole was made in the bottom of the basket so a pole could be used to knock the ball out of the basket. Of course, baskets have come a long way since then, and so has the ball.
Basketball was originally played with a soccer ball. The problem was that soccer balls at the time actually had laces (think an American Football). Laces weren’t much of a problem in soccer since the grass would absorb the abnormalities, but the hard flooring of a basketball court is not as forgiving. The laces were needed to close in the airtight bladder used to inflate the ball, but a laceless ball was eventually developed and adopted by soccer and basketball. The laces still remain on American Footballs since they actually help the sport by making the ball easier to grip when throwing.
The first balls specifically for basketball were brown, but in the 1950s they moved to orange so they would be more visible to players and spectators. These balls were better for bouncing too and this is when dribbling became a much larger part of the game — throw passes and bounce passes were the primary way of moving the ball beforehand.
Peach baskets were used until 1906 when a metal hoop was introduced. The hoop was originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the court, but as the sport attracted more people, the crowds started to interfere with the shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent spectators from interfering with the hoop and it had an unintended benefit to players — the bank shot.
Springfield College was a YMCA at the time, and basketball originally spread throughout the United States and Canada through YMCAs. Within a decade, the YMCA was discouraging the sport because its rowdy nature was disruptive to the YMCA’s main goal. But it was too late to stop basketball, by 1895 it had spread to sports clubs, colleges and professional clubs alike.