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basketball,game played generally indoors by two opposing teams of five players each. Basketball was conceived in 1891 by Dr. James NaismithNaismith, James
, 1861–1939, American athletic director, inventor (1891) of basketball, b. Almonte, Ontario. While an instructor of physical education at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) at Springfield, Mass.
..... Click the link for more information. , a physical education instructor at the YMCA college in Springfield, Mass., as a way to condition outdoor athletes during the winter months. His original list of 13 rules has undergone a century of revision, leading to faster pacing and greater athleticism. Today basketball is one of the most popular American sports and one the rest of the world has adopted.
At each end of the court—usually about 92 ft (28 m) long and 50 ft (15 m) wide—is a bottomless basket made of white cord net and suspended from a metal ring, 18 in. (46 cm) in diameter, which is attached 10 ft (3.05 m) above the floor (usually hardwood) to a backboard made of fiberglass, wood, or other material. Players may throw, dribble (bounce), or shoot the basketball (an inflated ball usually made of leather or rubber) but may not run with it or kick it.
Teams try to advance the ball and shoot it through one basket (the ball must enter from above) and to keep the opposition from scoring through the other. Each field goal, or basket, scores two points, or three points if shot from beyond a specified distance (21 ft/6 m in U.S. colleges, slightly longer in international and professional play). Teams must shoot the ball within a prescribed time limit (24 sec in professional and international games; 30 sec in women's collegiate play; 35 sec in men's collegiate play).
Any player making illegal body contact with an opposing player is assessed a foul; the opposing team may be given possession of the ball, or an opposing player awarded free throws at the basket from the foul line. Each made foul shot is worth one point. Players who exceed the foul limit (usually five, but six in professional and international play) are disqualified from the game. International and collegiate basketball games have two 20-min halves, professionals play four 12-min quarters, and high schoolers play four 8-min quarters.
Professional basketball began (1896) in New York City and was at one time played on courts enclosed by wire mesh (basketball players are still occasionally referred to as "cagers"). Until the 1950s it languished in popularity behind college basketball and such touring black teams as the Harlem Globetrotters and the New York Rens.
The merger (1949) of the National Basketball League and the rival Basketball Association of America into the National Basketball Association (NBA) led to greater popularity. The appearance of stars like George MikanMikan, George Lawrence
, 1924–2005, American basketball player, b. Joliet, Ill. After leading De Paul Univ. to the 1945 National Invitational Tournament title and being named All-American three times (1944–46), he played (1948–54, 1955–56) for the
..... Click the link for more information. , the signing of black players beginning in 1950, the temporary disrepute of the college game owing to gambling scandals in the early 1950s, and the adoption of the 24-sec shot clock in 1954, further boosted the NBA.
Its success inspired the formation of several competing leagues, among them the American Basketball Association (ABA), founded in 1967 and merged into the NBA in 1975. In the 1980s the emergence of charismatic players like "Magic" Johnson (see Johnson, EarvinJohnson, Magic
(Earvin Johnson, Jr.), 1959–, African-American basketball player, b. Lansing, Mich. After winning the national championship with Michigan State Univ.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Larry BirdBird, Larry Joe,
1956–, American basketball player, b. West Baden, Ind. Considered one of the greatest all-around players in basketball history, the 6-ft 9-in. Bird played for Indiana State Univ. (1975–79).
..... Click the link for more information. , and Michael JordanJordan, Michael Jeffrey,
1963–, American basketball player, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. As a freshman at the Univ. of North Carolina, he made the shot that won the 1982 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament final over Georgetown.
..... Click the link for more information. , combined with aggressive marketing under NBA commissioner David SternStern, David Joel,
1942–2020, American basketball executive, b. New York City. A lawyer, he worked (1966–78) as outside counsel to the National Basketball Association (NBA) before he became NBA general counsel (1978), executive vice president (1980), and commissioner
..... Click the link for more information. , made the NBA hugely successful, so that basketball often seemed the premier U.S. professional sport. A labor dispute in late 1998 delayed and shortened the 1998–99 season, but the sport weathered that bout of labor strife. Another dispute in late 2011 similarly delayed and shortened the 2011–12 season..
Basketball is a major sport in U.S. colleges. Postseason tournaments, first the National Invitation Tournament (begun 1938) and then the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships (begun 1939), soon attracted enough attention to fill large arenas like New York's Madison Square Garden. Point-shaving and game-fixing scandals unsettled college basketball in both 1950–51 and 1961, but did not diminish fan loyalty for extended periods.
The NCAA championship tournament, once secondary to the NIT, grew enormously in the latter part of the 20th cent. Large live audiences, national television coverage, and competitive parity have helped to make the NCAA's "March Madness" and Final Four (the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament) one of the most popular of all U.S. sporting events.
With the enormous growth financially of professional and college basketball during the same time period and into the 21st cent., college basketball faced increasing pressures as coaches, schools, sponsors, and others profited while players received scholarships and little more in return for their contribution to the second most popular collegiate sport. The most successful and marketable college players left school after as little as a year, and the sport faced recurring scandals, including a major one revealed in 2017 by an FBI bribery and fraud investigation, which involved a number of schools, players and their families and representatives, agents, and apparel company executives. A number of changes in how the NCAA regulates the sport were recommended in 2018 by an NCAA commission, but issue of compensating athletes was not addressed.
Olympic and International Basketball
An exhibition match was played at the 1904 Olympics, but basketball did not become an official part of the games until 1936. International rules and court dimensions differ some from U.S. standards, but changes in 2010 reduced the differences. Still, the United States outclassed the rest of the world until 1972, when the Soviet Union defeated the U.S. team for the gold medal (despite American protests that the Soviets had been allowed to score a basket after the game had ended). In the 1980s, many nations achieved parity with the United States, which was still fielding a team of collegians. The U.S. Olympic Committee therefore assembled for the 1992 games a "Dream Team" composed of one collegian and the finest professional players, who handily won the gold medal.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA, from its name in French), which was founded in 1932, governs international basketball competition, including the FIBA World Championship (est. 1950) and FIBA Women's World Championship (est. 1953). Contested by national teams, these quadrennial championships have been held during the same year since 1986. Other FIBA championships include regional titles for both national and club teams and the FIBA World Club Championship (est. 2010). Professional basketball leagues exist in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere.
Women's basketball has grown rapidly since the 1970s. Until then, women and girls had been allowed to play only a six-player game in which offensive and defensive players were rooted to one half of the court. Today full court action in women's college competition and in the Women's National Basketball Association (since 1997) exhibits advanced skills and fast-paced play, and has attained wider popularity than many other women's sports.
See P. Axthelm, The City Game (1971); D. Smith, Basketball—Multiple Offense and Defense (1982); A. Wolff, 100 Years of Hoops (1991); The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia (2d ed. 1994).
a team sport in which the goal is to throw a ball through a hanging basket.
In 1891, J. Naismith, an instructor of anatomy at Springfield College (USA), worked out the rules of the game. The first game in Russia took place in 1906 in St. Petersburg. The systematic playing of basketball develops coordination of movement, trains organs of respiration and blood circulation, improves the regulatory function of the nervous system, develops muscles, and fortifies health.
The most important basketball tournaments are usually played on a rectangular court 26 m x 14 m in rooms not less than 7 m in height. Parallel to the base line, there are backboards supported on poles and baskets (metal rings with stretched nets that have no bottom) attached to the backboards. The circumference of the ball is 75–78 cm; its weight, 600–650 g. Two teams, each with 12 members, participate in the game. Five players are on the court at a time. (Players may be substituted.) For every basket made during play, a team scores two points; for every penalty shot, one point. The winning team is the one that scores the most points. The game for men lasts 40 minutes of actual playing time; for women, 36 minutes; for 15–16–year-old boys and girls, 30 minutes; and for 13–14–year-old boys and girls, 24 minutes. (The clock stops every time the referee blows his whistle.) The time is divided into two halves, with a ten-minute break. If after regulation play the teams have an equal number of points, five-minute overtimes are played until one of the teams wins.
Since 1936 men’s basketball has been an Olympic event. The Olympic championship was won by US athletes in 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968. The Soviet team took second place in the Olympics of 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1964 and first place in 1972. The first and second women’s world championships were won by the USA (Chile, 1953; and Brazil, 1957); and the third, fourth, and fifth women’s world championships were won by the USSR (USSR, 1959; Peru, 1964; and Czechoslovakia, 1967). The first men’s world championship was won by Argentina (Argentina, 1950); the second by the USA (Brazil, 1954); and third and fourth by Brazil (Chile, 1959; and Brazil, 1963); and the fifth by the USSR (Uruguay, 1967).
REFERENCEBasketbol. Moscow, 1967.
S. G. BASHKIN [3–69–1; updated]