James Naismith (November 6, 1861 – November 28, 1939) was the inventor of basketball in 1891, at age 30. He was born to Scottish immigrants in Almonte, Ontario, Canada and died in Lawrence, Kansas, USA at age 78.
The Canadian-American physical educator, physician, chaplain, sports coach, and innovator wrote the original b-ball rule book, later becoming the Kansas Jayhawks’ athletic director and coach.
As a child, James was struggling in school and spent most of his days playing outside with his friends. One game, in particular, Duck on a Rock, would inspire him greatly for the future game of basketball. Duck on a Rock is a medieval physical game in which a player guards an elevated stone from other players who try to knock it down by throwing smaller stones at it. Naismith soon found out that lobbed throws were more effective at hitting the target than straight throws. An observation that stimulated his imagination in creating the game of basketball.
In 1891 James was working as a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because of the harsh New England winter weather, his rowdy class was confined to an indoor gym. His superior gave him 14 days to come up with an indoor sport as to provide “athletic distraction”, not take up too much room, keep his track athletes in shape, and explicitly demanded to “make it fair for all players and not too rough.” James wrote the rules and came up with a proto-basketball indoor game by hanging two peach baskets on opposite ends of the gym and using a soccer ball.
James Naismith’s words about the first game of basketball at YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts:
“The boys began tackling, kicking and punching in the clinches. They ended up in a free-for-all in the middle of the gym floor. [The injury toll: several black eyes, one separated shoulder and one player knocked unconscious.] “It certainly was murder.”
The original 1891 “Basket Ball” court in Springfield College. It used a peach basket attached to the wall.