Google dedicates a sporty doodle to Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball game. He was a Canadian-American physical educator, physician, Christian chaplain, sports coach, and innovator.
Dr. James Naismith wrote the original basketball rule book and founded the University of Kansas basketball program. On this day in 1892, he announced the new game and its original rules in the pages of ‘The Triangle’, a Springfield College school newspaper. From its humble beginnings in a school gymnasium, the sport has grown into an international colossus played in over 200 countries today.
James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861 near the town of Almonte in Ontario, Canada. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from McGill University, and in 1890 took a job as an instructor at the YMCA International Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Here, James Naismith was tasked to develop an indoor game that could occupy students during the unforgiving New England winters. With two peach baskets, a soccer ball, and just ten rules, the game of ‘basket ball’ was born.
James Naismith entered McGill University in Montreal in 1883. Although described as a slight figure, standing 5 ft 10 ½ in and listed at 178 lb, he was a talented and versatile athlete, representing McGill in Canadian football, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and gymnastics.
Introduced to James Naismith’s class on December 21, 1891, the game initially featured teams of nine players and combined elements of outdoor sports such as American football, soccer, and field hockey. Despite initial skepticism, the sport exploded in popularity over the following years, and in 1936, basketball made its Olympic debut in Berlin, Germany. None other than the sport’s founder—James Naismith—threw the ball for the tip-off to commence the first game.
In 1898, James Naismith became the first basketball coach of University of Kansas also known as the first basketball coach in the world. He compiled a record of 55–60 and is ironically the only losing coach in Kansas history. Naismith is at the beginning of a massive and prestigious coaching tree, as he coached Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach Phog Allen, who himself coached Hall of Fame coaches Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, and Ralph Miller who all coached future coaches as well.
Dr. James Naismith became professor emeritus at Kansas when he retired in 1937 at the age of 76. In addition to his years as a coach, for a total of almost 40 years, Naismith worked at the school and during those years, he also served as its athletic director, and he was also a faculty member at the school.
James Naismith envisioned basketball as a way for all students to better themselves physically and mentally. The sport was introduced in a time when schools were segregated, but Naismith saw everyone as someone with potential for the game. In his lifetime, he took steps to help basketball reach more young people, and it has since evolved into a global phenomenon that crosses racial and gender barriers.
In 1959, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame was incorporated in Springfield, Massachusetts, and this mecca of basketball history carries on Naismith’s legacy to this day.
Naismith died at the age of 78 on November 28, 1939. Google pays tribute to the man who created one of the world’s favorite pastimes by investing the game of basketball.
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