Basketball is a team sport, the objective being to shoot a ball through a basket horizontally positioned to score points while following a set of rules. Usually, two teams of five players play on a marked rectangular court with a basket at each width end. Basketball is one of the world’s most popular and widely viewed sports.
A regulation basketball ring consists of a rim 18 inches in diameter and 10 feet high mounted to a backboard. A team can score a field goal by shooting the ball through the basket during regular play. A field goal scores two points for the shooting team if a player is touching or closer to the basket than the three-point line, and three points (known commonly as a 3 pointer or three) if the player is behind the three-point line. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but additional time (overtime) may be issued when the game ends with a draw.
The ball can be advanced on the court by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling) or throwing (passing) it to a team-mate. It is a violation to move without dribbling the ball (travelling), to carry it, or to double dribble (to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling).
Various violations are generally called “fouls”. Disruptive physical contact (a personal foul) is penalised, and a free throw is usually awarded to an offensive player if he is fouled while shooting the ball. A technical foul may also be issued when certain infractions occur, most commonly for unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of a player or coach. A technical foul gives the opposing team a free throw.
Basketball has evolved many commonly used techniques of shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding, as well as specialised player positions and offensive and defensive structures (player positioning) and techniques. Typically, the tallest members of a team will play “centre”, “power forward” or “small forward” positions, while shorter players or those who possess the best ball handling skills and speed play “point guard” or “shooting guard”.
While competitive basketball is carefully regulated, numerous variations of basketball have developed for casual play. Competitive basketball is primarily an indoor sport played on a carefully marked and maintained basketball court, but less regulated variations are often played outdoors in both inner city and remote areas.
The Early History of Basketball
In early December 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School (YMCA) (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA), was trying to keep his gym class active on a rainy day. He sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.05 m) elevated track.
In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored; this proved inefficient, however, so the bottom of the basket was removed, allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.
Basketball was originally played with an association football. The first balls made specifically for basketball were brown, and it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle, searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and spectators alike, introduced the orange ball that is now in common use.
Dribbling was not part of the original game except for the “bounce pass” to team-mates Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. Dribbling only became a major part of the game around the 1950s, as manufacturing improved the ball shape.
The peach baskets were used until 1906 when they were finally replaced by metal hoops with backboards. A further change was soon made, so the ball merely passed through. Whenever a person got the ball in the basket, his team would gain a point. Whichever team got the most points won the game. The baskets were originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, but this proved impractical when spectators on the balcony began to interfere with shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent this interference; it had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots.
Naismith’s handwritten diaries, discovered by his granddaughter in early 2006, indicate that he was nervous about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children’s game called “Duck on a Rock”, as many had failed before it. Naismith called the new game “Basket Ball”.
The first official game was played in the YMCA gymnasium in Albany, New York on January 20, 1892 with nine players. The game ended at 1–0; the shot was made from 25 feet (7.6 m), on a court just half the size of a present-day Streetball or National Basketball Association (NBA) court. By 1897–1898 teams of five became standard.
The Basic Rules of Basketball
Games are played in four quarters of 10 (FIBA) or 12 minutes (NBA). College games use two 20-minute halves, while high school varsity games use 8 minute quarters. 15 minutes are allowed for a half-time break under FIBA, NBA, and NCAA rules and 10 minutes in high school games.
Overtime periods are five minutes in length except for high school which is four minutes in length. Teams exchange baskets for the second half. The time allowed is actual playing time; the clock is stopped while the play is not active. Therefore, games generally take much longer to complete than the allotted game time – typically about two hours.
Five players from each team may be on the court at one time. Substitutions are unlimited but can only be done when play is stopped. Teams also have a coach, who oversees the development and strategies of the team, and other team personnel such as assistant coaches, managers, statisticians, doctors and trainers.
For both men’s and women’s teams, a standard uniform consists of a pair of shorts and a jersey with a clearly visible number, unique within the team, printed on both the front and back. Players wear high-top sneakers that provide extra ankle support. Typically, team names, players’ names and, outside of North America, sponsors are printed on the uniforms.
A limited number of time-outs, clock stoppages requested by a coach (or sometimes mandated in the NBA) for a short meeting with the players, are allowed. They generally last no longer than one minute (100 seconds in the NBA) unless, for televised games, a commercial break is needed.
The game is controlled by the officials consisting of the referee (referred to as crew chief in the NBA), one or two umpires (referred to as referees in the NBA) and the table officials. For college, the NBA, and many high schools, there are a total of three referees on the court. The table officials are responsible for keeping track of each teams scoring, timekeeping, individual and team fouls, player substitutions, team possession arrow, and the shot clock.
International Basketball Competitions
The International Basketball Federation was formed in 1932 by eight founding nations: Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland. At this time, the organisation only oversaw amateur players. Its acronym, derived from the French Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur, was known as and called “FIBA”.
Men’s Basketball was first included at the Berlin1936 Summer Olympics, although a demonstration tournament was held in 1904. The United States defeated Canada in the first final, played outdoors. This competition has usually been dominated by the United States, whose team has won all but three titles, the first loss in a controversial final game in Munich in 1972 against the Soviet Union.
In 1950 the first FIBA World Championship for men was held in Argentina. Three years later, the first FIBA World Championship for Women was held in Chile. Women’s basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976, which were held in Montreal, Canada, with teams such as the Soviet Union, Brazil and Australia rivalling the American squads.
FIBA dropped the distinction between amateur and professional players in 1989, and in 1992, professional players played for the first time in the Olympic Games. The United States’ dominance continued with the introduction of their Dream Team. However, with developing programs elsewhere, other national teams started to beat the United States. A team made entirely of NBA players finished sixth in the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, behind Yugoslavia, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand and Spain.
In the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States suffered its first Olympic loss while using professional players, falling to Puerto Rico (in a 19-point loss) and Lithuania in group games, and being eliminated in the semifinals by Argentina. It eventually won the bronze medal defeating Lithuania, finishing behind Argentina and Italy. In 2006, in the World Championship of Japan, the United States advanced to the semifinals but were defeated by Greece by 101–95. In the bronze medal game it beat team Argentina and finished 3rd behind Greece and Spain.
After the disappointments of 2002 through to 2006, the U.S. regrouped, re-establishing themselves as the dominant international team behind the “Redeem Team”, which won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and the so-called “B-Team”, which won gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey, despite featuring no players from the 2008 squad.
The all-tournament teams at the 2002 and 2006 FIBA World Championships, respectively held in Indianapolis and Japan, demonstrate the globalisation of the game quite well. Only one member of either team was American, namely Carmelo Anthony in 2006. The 2002 team featured Nowitzki, Ginobili, Yao, Peja Stojakovic of Yugoslavia (now of Serbia), and Pero Cameron of New Zealand.
Ginobili also made the 2006 team; the other members were Anthony, Gasol, his Spanish team-mate Jorge Garbajosa and Theodoros Papaloukas of Greece. The only players on either team to never have joined the NBA are Cameron and Papaloukas. The all-tournament team from the 2010 edition in Turkey featured four NBA players—MVP Kevin Durant of Team USA, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, Linas Kleiza of Lithuania and the Toronto Raptors, Luis Scola of Argentina and the Houston Rockets, and Hedo Turkoglu of Turkey and the Phoenix Suns. The only non-NBA player was Serbia’s Milos Teodosic.
The strength of international Basketball is evident in the fact that Team USA won none of the three world championships held between 1998 and 2006, with Serbia (then known as Yugoslavia) winning in 1998 and 2002 and Spain in 2006.
Worldwide, basketball tournaments are held for boys and girls of all age levels. The global popularity of the sport is reflected in the nationalities represented in the NBA. Players from all six inhabited continents currently play in the NBA. Top international players began coming into the NBA in the mid 1990’s, including Croatia’s Drazen Petrovic and Toni Kukoc, Serbian Vlade Divac, Lithuania’s Arvydas Sabonis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis and German Detlef Schrempf.
John Hollinger of ESPN has analysed foreign players’ performance in the NBA and his research suggests that players moving from the Euroleague to the NBA experience, on average, a 25 per cent drop in scoring rate, an increase of 18% in their rebound rate, a 31% increase in their assist rate, a drop of 12 per cent in shooting percentage and a 30 per cent drop in Player Efficiency Rating.
In the Philippines, the Philippine Basketball Association’s first game was played on April 9, 1975 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines. It was founded as a “rebellion” of several teams from the now-defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association which was tightly controlled by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (now defunct), the then-FIBA recognised national association. Nine teams from the MICAA participated in the league’s first season that opened on April 9, 1975.
The NBL is Australia’s pre-eminent men’s professional basketball league. The league commenced in 1979, playing a winter season (April–September) and did so until the completion of the 20th season in 1998. The 1998/99 season, which commenced only months later, was the first season after the shift to the current summer season format (October–April). This shift was an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia’s various football codes.
It currently features 8 teams from around Australia and one in New Zealand. A few players including Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Chris Anstey and Andrew Bogut made it big internationally, becoming poster figures for the sport in Australia. The Women’s National Basketball League began in 1981.