1. Basketball was played with a soccer ball
As strange as it may sound, basketball was initially played with a soccer ball and peach basket. Referees had to retrieve the ball from the baskets every time players made baskets. In 1900 the string basket that you know today was introduced to the game. Later on, backboards were attached to the baskets to prevent the spectators from blocking players' shots.
2. It was a rougher sport
In the earlier days, basketball was a rougher sport. That is because rules for the ball were different from now. When the ball got out of bounds, the referee tossed it into the court, and the team that first had their hands on the ball got possession. This rule led to players racing towards the ball to get their chance which ended up with players scrambling down inside the court and getting injured. However, by 1923, this rule changed to make the game safer for the players.
3. Dribbling wasn't allowed
It may be surprising, but dribbling was not part of the initial basketball games. When a player caught the ball, you had to throw it to another player to keep the game moving. However, in 1897, dribbling was introduced into the game by a college basketball team. Initially, players were only allowed to use one bounce to pass the ball to the other player. Dribbling was fully officially accepted in basketball four years later.
4. The slam dunk
The Slam Dunk Contest is undoubtedly a highlight in the NBA Skills Challenge. The term slam dunk refers to when you leap above the net's rim while driving the ball into the net using one or both hands. This famous play was formally known as a dunk shot. However, in 1972, Chick Hearn, an American announcer, used this term for the first time at an LA Lakers game, and it stuck. It is said that Robert Kurland was the first person to slam dunk in the 1940s.
5. James Naismith invented it
James Naismith is credited to have founded basketball in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, after being asked to invent an indoor winter activity by his boss at the YMCA. He was a physical education teacher, and he also wrote the original rule book for basketball. Lastly, Naismith founded the basketball program at the University of Kansas.
6. The three-pointer has not always been in the game
The Three-Point Contest is also a popular event in the NBA Skills Challenge. It is officially known as the three-point field goal, and it is a shot made from beyond the three-point line. That is the arc that surrounds the basket on the court. If you make a shoot from there, you get three points. What you may not know is the three-pointer has not always been in the game. It was introduced into the game after rules were adjusted following the 1979-80 season.
7. Fouls played
Shouldering, pushing, holding, tripping, and striking opponents were never allowed in basketball but were never considered fouls. However, in 1910, a rule was established disqualifying players from committing these four offenses. In 1946 they were raised to five by the Basketball Association of America's then to six a year later.
8. Referees used watches
Initially, the official duties of referees were timekeeping, although there wasn't much time to keep. The 24-second shot clock was only instituted in 1954 to combat stalling tactics that various NBA teams had begun employing.
9. The establishment of smaller squads
In basketball, each side has five players on the court at any given time. It has not always been like this. When basketball was invented, there was no limit to the number of players on the court. Therefore, teams could play with any number of players, and some had up to 50 players. However, each team would send nine players to the court at a given time. This all changed in 1897, establishing the rule of five players for each side.
10. Michael Jordan had to pay fines to wear his iconic shoes
When you hear Michael Jordan, you probably connect him to his legendary Air Jordans. These shoes are iconic and hold a record sales number. However, these shoes used to be against the NBA dress code and were not allowed on the court. Jordan still wore his shoes to the court and preferred to be fined for wearing them rather than wearing shoes that weren't Air Jordans. Eventually, the NBA allowed them on the court.
Basketball has evolved in many ways since its invention. As a loyal fan knowing these surprising facts is vital, and it will help you appreciate the game more.