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"Basketball: Its Origin and Development" by James Naismith

The true history of the most popular sports of all time, and its development and growth worldwide.

Anyone going to a gym and/or to a park owes their due to the late, great James Naismith who created one of the most mind-clearing sports ever invented. Even if it's not for competition, basketball is a great pastime to play, and also provides a modest amount of exercise.

This book takes you through what feels like a personal tour of Naismith's claim to fame in inventing a sport that eventually became included in the Olympics. From the very beginning all the way to how he came up with an indoor sport that didn't require excessive contact (football) but strenuous enough to keep the player going, it was then from his office he asked one of this coworkers, Mr. Stebbin, for two 18-inch boxes. Stebbin didn't have any but went to lend two large peach baskets which Naismith ended up using. Step by step, you get a clear and understanding in the process in how to score a goal (basket), the rules of guarding the goal, penalizing for contact and how many players required to play the game. This part is my favorite part of the whole book, and if you're familiar with the game today, you'll see how each piece was implemented to give us the sport we all know and love to this modern day.

Naismith's students, a former football player, once approached him and told him how fun the game he invented was great as he asked what he should call it. The former football player suggested "Naismith Ball" to which James thought it'd wear out his very own name. Since the ball game required the usage of baskets, it was then the name of the game was used: "basket ball."

After, Naismith went on to publish the original 13 rules of the game, while smoothing out the rough edges in giving player(s) leeway during gameplay, and how basketball leagues began forming throughout the US. It was a sport that caught on so quickly, it felt like Naismith couldn't keep up, but was very proud of the rapid progress. Eventually, US troops picked up the game and began playing the sport in the various spots they are stationed in around the world. Additionally, basketball sought international success, namely in Japan, Philippine Islands, France and China to name a few.

Naismith also went to talk about the growth and start of girls'/women's basketball which spread just as quickly as the sport itself. During the growth, he briefly mentioned his run-in with a woman named Miss Sherman who loved the game. James mentioned he asked her to be "Mrs. Naismith" as she loved the game of basketball and wanted to keep updated. Nice!

Lastly, at the end of the book is Naismith debunking the myth that basketball is too strenuous of a sport. As someone who has played in the intramurals in elementary school, and on the high school freshmen basketball team, it really depends on the training required. However, the sport itself isn't as strenuous as you might think; In fact, it makes great exercise and the up-keep to stay in shape. Sure, lots of running is required but that's what's needed to keep from your opponent(s) from scoring a basket. As the sport grew, future basketball athletes became adapted to the "strenuousness" of basketball to where it isn't such a big deal anymore, and is a HUGE plus come serious competition in college and professional leagues.

As for the last words on this book, Naismith says that basketball is for everyone, and this game is NOT intended for the egotist. Tell that to LeBron James and other air-headed athletes who play the game.

This simple book takes you through a no-brainer, gentle journey through Naismith's invention process to a sport that will last forever for as long as this planet stands. Leagues, minor and major, have injected creative means to make the sport even more fun and enjoyable. No matter what, at the end of the day, basketball will always remain basketball, and that's completely fine.

Thank you James Naismith for inventing one of the most enjoyable games ever devised. This review is for you, your family and the societal associations and groups you were involved with/in that made this sport possible!





  • Great story about basketball and its growth.
  • Accessible to everyone wanting to know more about the sport.
  • Written by the inventor of basketball himself—James Naismith.
  • None.
100% (A+)
Fan Rating
Title Basketball: Its Origin and Development
Author(s) James Naismith
Description James Naismith was teaching physical education at a Young Men's Christian Association Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and felt discouraged because calisthenics and gymnastics didn't engage his students. What was needed was an indoor wintertime game that combined recreation and competition. One evening he worked out the fundamentals of a game that would quickly catch on. Two peach half-bushel baskets gave the name to the brand new sport in late 1891.

Basketball: Its Origin and Development was written by the inventor himself, who was inspired purely by the joy of play. Naismith, born in northern Ontario in 1861, gave up the ministry to preach clean living through sport. He describes Duck on the Rock, a game from his Canadian childhood, the creative reasoning behind his basket game, the eventual refinement of rules and development of equipment, the spread of amateur and professional team throughout the world, and the growth of the women's basketball (at first banned to male spectators because the players wore bloomers). Naismith lived long enough to see basketball included in the Olympics in 1936. Three years later he died, after nearly forty years as head of the physical education department at the University of Kansas.

This book, originally published in 1941, carries a new introduction by William J. Baker, a professor of history at the University of Maine, Orono. He is the author of Jesse Owens: An American Life and Sports in the Western World.
Acknowledgements --
ISBN 9 780803 283701 // 0-8032-8370-9
Book Dimensions Width: 5.31″ (5 5/16″)
Height: 8″
Depth: 0.56″ (9/16″)
Page Count 213
Contents Introduction, Preface, Bennie's Corners, The Need of a New Game, The Origin of Basketball, Changes in the Game, Development of Basketball Equipment, Changes in the Rules Body, The Spread of the Game in the United States, The Foreign Spread, The Development of Girls' Basketball, The Physiology of Basketball, The Values of Basketball, Appendix: (A. Statistics on Intramural Athletics, B. Urinalysis of Basketball Teams, March, 1925, C. Substitution Chart, D. Summary of Fouls, E. Classification of Attributes Developed by Athletics and Games, F. Definition of Attributes Developed by or Used in Athletics)
Cover Photograph courtesy of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Back Cover Photograph courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society
Cover Design Roger D. Buchholz
Published 1996 (originally published in 1941)
Publisher New York: Association Press, 1941 (Re-published by Bison Books)
Copyright © 1996 by the University of Nebraska Press
Printed in United States
Book Format Paperback, Kindle
Quoted Reviews --
Best Seller's List --
Other --
Library of Congress
Cataloging-in-Publication Data
1. Basketball—History.
I. Title.
CIP Number 95-44893
LC Control Number --
LC Call Number GV885.N357  1996
DDC Call Number 796.323—dc20

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