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Did you know there are about three billion basketball fans around the world?

There are many other basketball history facts you may not know as a fan of the sport. This guide will discuss some of the most interesting facts about basketball history. Keep reading to learn what they are. 

1. Basketball Was Invented in the Late 1800s

One key fact in the history of basketball is that it was created by a physical education teacher on December 21st, 1891. James Naismith created the game while working at the YMCA International Training School in Massachusetts.

Naismith created the game because he was looking for a way to keep his student-athletes active indoors during the winter season. He wanted to create a game the students enjoyed playing.

2. Players Started Out Using Soccer Balls

Basketball was initially played using soccer balls. The game involved throwing soccer balls into peach baskets. The referee of the game then had to retrieve the balls. 

Basketball changed in the early 1900s to include baskets with openings at the bottom. This helped avoid the process of having to retrieve the ball after scoring.

Backboards were later added to the baskets. This is the setup used today.

Since soccer balls were first used in the game, there wasn’t any dribbling in basketball at first. Basketballs that players could dribble weren’t created until the 1920s. 

3. Basketball Started Without a Name 

When the sport was first created, it obviously didn’t have a name yet because it was just getting off the ground. It didn’t take long for the sport to get the name it has today, however. 

After the holiday season, Naismith’s student-athletes considered naming the sport Naismith Ball after its inventor. Naismith wanted to choose a simpler name. Since the rules of the sport required a ball going into a basket, basketball was the best choice. 

4. Players Use to Face Off in a Cage 

In the early stages of basketball history, players got rough during the games. This led to players falling on spectators who were there to enjoy the game. 

To avoid hurting the fans, basketball games moved to mesh cages. This change led to more problems, however.

Players started falling into the sides of the cages and were getting injured more often. The cages were removed from the games soon after this. 

5. The Slam Dunk Was Created in the 1940s

Other interesting basketball facts you might not know include the history of the slam dunk. 

This move requires refined skills as it involves jumping above the rim of the net and pushing the ball into the hoop with one or both hands. The basketball player Robert Kurland was the first to perform a slam dunk in the 1940s.

The move was originally called a dunk shot. The sports announcer Chick Hearn used the term slam dunk during a Lakers game in 1972 for the first time. The term replaced dunk shot soon after.

6. The First Official Basketball Game in History

While Naismith’s students played the new game for fun when it was first created, the first official game was played on January 20, 1892. It took place at a YMCA gym in Albany, New York. 

Nine players competed in this first basketball game. The court where they played was about half the size of the basketball courts used today. These first players struggled during the game as only scored one point by the end. 

7. Two Women Have Played in the NBA 

Basketball has always been a male-dominated sport. The NBA was established in 1946, while the WNBA wasn’t created until 50 years later.

While all of the players in the NBA were men, two women were drafted into all-male teams. To this day, these are the only women to have played as part of the NBA.

Denise Long was the first female player chosen during the 1969 NBA draft. She went on to play with the San Francisco Warriors. 

Luisa Harris was the second woman drafted into the NBA in 1977. She joined the New Orleans Jazz team. 

8. Teams Use to Be Larger

Next on the list of fun basketball facts is the fact that basketball teams use to be a lot larger in the first few years. Today, teams have five players per team playing on the court. 

When basketball was first created, any number of players could be on a team. Some teams had up to 50 players. The average number of players on the court at the time was nine, however. 

The five-player rule wasn’t established until 1897. 

9. The Original Typed Rules of Basketball Were Auctioned Off

Basketball has evolved a lot since it was first created in the late 1800s. There were only 13 rules in the game when James Naismith first created it. 

Naismith typed out these rules himself. These historic documents weren’t rediscovered until the 2000s by Naismith’s granddaughter. 

The documents were auctioned and sold for over four million dollars. The documents were eventually donated to the University of Kanas where Naismith was a head coach for almost a decade. 

10. Basketball Became an Olympic Sport in the 1930s 

The popularity of basketball led to it becoming an Olympic sport during the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. James Naismith was able to attend these Olympic games. He was also able to present the winners with their medals during the games. 

Now that you have more knowledge about the sport you love, you should consider searching for the best basketball shoes to help you improve your game. 

Basketball History Facts That Might Surprise You

You might be surprised to learn some of the basketball history facts on this list. You might not know that the sport was first played using a soccer ball or that the sport didn’t have a name early on. 

Check out some of the other blogs on our site for more interesting basketball facts. 

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