Basketball: From humble beginnings, hoops celebrates 125th birthday

Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:46am EST
 
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - A game drawn up to occupy some bored boys as winter approached at a Massachusetts gymnasium celebrates its 125th anniversary on Wednesday and basketball's status as the world's second most popular sport.

Basketball began on Dec 21, 1891 at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) gym in Springfield with rules made up by Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith.

Last year more than one billion people watched National Basketball Association programming, said NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who helps preside over the world's preeminent 'hoops' league.

On Wednesday, Springfield's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame marks the anniversary with celebrations including a Birthday of Basketball college doubleheader featuring Auburn, Boston College, Fairfield and Oklahoma at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Naismith recalled the sport's primitive beginnings in a New York radio interview in 1939.

“I called the boys to the gym, divided them up into teams of nine and gave them a little soccer ball,” he said.

“I showed them two peach baskets I’d nailed up at each end of the gym (about 10 feet above the floor), and I told them the idea was to throw the ball into the opposing team’s peach basket.

"I blew the whistle, and the first game of basketball began.”   Continued...

 
People play basketball under the skyline of lower Manhattan in Brooklyn Bridge Park in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid