Basketball Day is celebrated on November 6. The date is taken from the birthday of its inventor, Dr. James Naismith, who was born on November 6, 1861.
Since then, basketball has come a long way. It has become the second most popular major sport in North America. The sport has continually been climbing the popularity ladder, with 850 million fans all over the world. About half of those play the game, either recreationally or professionally, according to estimates by FIBA.
Of the four major American sports, basketball is the only game with a readily identifiable inventor. And even though the first game was played on December 21, 1891, it was decided to take Basketball Day from the birthdate of its creator.
No one is exactly sure when this day was first celebrated, and since it’s an unofficial celebration, it is not as widely known. With that being said, that shouldn’t stop us fans from taking a trip down memory lane and learning more about the game that we all love.
Brief History of Basketball
When Dr. Naismith invented the game, it was over a month since his 30th birthday. Naismith, who was teaching physical education in Springfield College (then known as International YMCA Training School), faced a dilemma. He was tasked to create a new indoor sport to keep bored athletes in shape during winter. The result, of course, was basketball.
When Naismith decided to debut his newly thought-out game, it was far from the game we know today. It was played by nine players on each team to shoot a ball into a literal peach basket nailed at each end of the gym. Needless to say, it was rough around the edges, but it evolved into a global sport that we know today.
See the Sports Feel Good Stories Basketball In-depth Dictionary.
How to Celebrate Basketball Day
Since hoops is an indoor sport, games and tournaments are played the whole year round. The NBA season and postseason run typically from October to June, and the Euroleague tournament is also held during that time. Then there are quadrennial tournaments such as the Olympics and FIBA World Cup, other international qualifiers, and the WNBA.
That means November 6th is just another day in the world of sports. You rarely hear any mention of it during game broadcasts, if at all. With that being said, that doesn’t mean we could not observe the day on November 6th in our own little ways.
Here are some simple commemoration ideas.
Watch a game with family and friends.
What’s Basketball Day without a game? Every season is basketball season, so go hang out and watch a game in the crib or at a sports bar. If, for some reason, a live game isn’t available, try watching some classic NBA games. On the top of your list should be Michael Jordan’s 63-point performance in the playoffs vs. the Celtics, the Lakers-Celtics Game 7 Finals slugfest in 2010, and the triple-OT thriller in the 1993 NBA Finals.
Better yet, get yourself in the middle of the action by playing a pickup game. Hoops courts are everywhere, so this shouldn’t pose a serious problem.
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Add some basketball cards to your collection.
Or, if you want to dabble in the world of NFTs and digital card collecting, try NBA Top Shot.
Watch a basketball film.
I have to admit most sports movies are either cheesy or cringe-y, but there shouldn’t be any shortage of good, entertaining ones. Hoop Dreams, The Hoosiers, and Coach Carter are some great basketball films that you may consider.
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Read a basketball book.
The choice is endless in this department. You can read about the history of the game or learn about the thought processes of the great coaches and players of all time. Either way, it’s worth your while as a hoops fan.
Travel to where it started.
This opportunity may not be open for many, but if you’re anywhere near Springfield, Massachusetts, with a lot of spare time on November 6th, go to where the seeds are first planted.
See Dimensions for a Basketball Court.
10 Fun Facts About Dr. James Naismith and Basketball
1.) Dr. Naismith first called the game “basket ball,” as two separate words. Somebody suggested labeling the newly-invented sport as “Naismith Ball” or “Naismith game,” but obviously, Naismith doesn’t want any part of it.
2.) Naismith also served as the first head coach of the University of Kansas basketball team. Sadly, he lost more than he won, with a record of 55 wins and 60 losses. He was the only coach in Kansas history with a losing record.
3.) He does not have a middle name, although he is sometimes referred to as James A. Naismith.
4.) Naismith had a BA in Physical Education and a degree in medicine, but growing up, he preferred farm life over studying.
5.) If you think Charlie Ward and Pat Connaughton’s two-sport forays were impressive, try James Naismith. He excelled in football, soccer, wrestling, lacrosse, rugby, and gymnastics in college.
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6.) He refereed the first basketball game. As soon as Naismith blew the whistle to start the game, the players began punching, kicking, and tackling each other.
7.) Naismith was always big on safety. After seeing a bloody start to his newly-created game, he invented the 13 rules of basketball. He was also credited for inventing the football helmet sometime in 1893.
8.) Naismith was a champion of human rights in his own way. He hated segregation and repeatedly tried to get black players to the Jayhawks basketball team. He was able to secure permission to get the black students to use the swimming pool. Before that, black people were automatically given passing grades for swimming classes because they couldn’t use the pool.
9.) According to his son Ian, his favorite quote is, “I want to leave the world a better place for me having been here.”
10.) Google honored James Naismith with an animated doodle last January 15, 2021.
Here are some frequently asked questions about basketball.
In alphabetical order: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and Bill Russell.
The NBA is composed of 30 teams.
The Milwaukee Bucks.
Wilson is the official producer of NBA official game balls. Spalding had held the role for the last 37 years.
By Tim Moodie and Mike O’Halloran
Tim is a writer, creative director, and inventor. Mike is a former basketball coach and has written three books on coaching youth basketball.
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