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What kind of information materials are available?
CD: Texts available on CD version.Texts available in multiple languages.

· FIBA, the Federation of International Basketball
· History of Basketball
· Men's FIBA (International), NBA, And NCAA Basketball Rule Differences
· The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
National Basketball Association (NBA)
· NBA Germany
· NBA Scoreboard from ESPN
· Portrait of America: Export von Popkultur Deutsch CD

Portrait of America: Exporting Popular Culture CD
· The Sporting News: Basketball Archives
· USA Basketball
· Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
· Women's National Basketball Association

Original Documents
· Basketball Glossary
· Official Referee Hand Signals
· The Official Rules of the National Basketball Association

For High School Students
Fact Monster: Basketball
How Stuff Works > Game of Basketball Channel
Learn2 Understand Basketball
· The World Almanac for Kids > Sports > Basketball > The Game l History

Teacher Resources
· Basketball Instruction
· Basketball Tutorials, Tips
· The School Athletics Center: Basketball

Link Lists
· About Basketball
· The Basketball
· Google Web Directory > Sports > Basketball
· Open Directory: Sports > Basketball
· The Virtual Library of Sport > Basketball
· The Virtual Library of Sport > Basketball in the USA
· Yahoo! Recreation > Sports > Basketball

Boy shooting hoops in his front yard. (AP Photo/Rob Swanson)
Boy shooting hoops in his front yard. (AP Photo/Rob Swanson)

Basketball is a uniquely American sport. It originated in 1891 when James Naismith, a young physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts, was instructed by his boss to invent a new game that could be played indoors during the cold winter months to keep the students occupied and out of trouble. Naismith thought back to his boyhood in Canada, where he and his friends had played "duck on a rock," which involved trying to knock a large rock off a boulder by throwing smaller rocks at it. He also recalled watching rugby players toss a ball into a box in a gymnasium. He had the idea of nailing up raised boxes into which players would attempt to throw a ball. Naismith had two bushel baskets, used for carrying peaches, nailed to the balcony at opposite ends of the school’s gymnasium. He set up two nine-man teams, gave them a soccer ball, and told them the object was to toss it into the basket being defended by the opposing team. Most of the rules Naismith drew up still apply in some form today. He called the game Basket Ball, the modern version of which is played by over 250 million people worldwide in an organized fashion, as well as by countless others in "pick-up" games.

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki in game three of the NBA Western Conference semifinal basketball game, May 13, 2006. Nowitzki scored 27 points in the 104-103 Mavericks win. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki in game three of the NBA Western Conference semifinal basketball game, May 13, 2006. Nowitzki scored 27 points in the 104-103 Mavericks win. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Basketball gained quickly popularity due to its simple equipment requirements, indoor play, competitiveness, and easily understood rules. The first professional basketball league was formed in 1898. Today, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the major professional basketball league in the world, with teams in the United States and Canada. The NBA now has 29 teams competing in two conferences, the Eastern and Western, in four separate divisions. Every year, in the second week of February, the NBA interrupts its season to celebrate the annual All-Star game, featuring the game's best players as selected by fans throughout the United States and Canada. At the end of the season, the champions from the Eastern and Western conferences meet in a best-of-seven series to determine the NBA champion.

Superstar players like Michael “Air” Jordan increased the popularity of basketball internationally. In 1992, a so-called Dream Team, made up of the top American professional basketball players, represented the United States in Olympic Games for the first time. Many teams in the National Basketball Association now have foreign players, who return home to represent their native countries during international competitions, such as the Olympic Games. Dirk Nowitzki who plays for the Dallas Mavericks is Germany’s most popular sports exports to the United States. More than 200 national federations belong to FIBA, the Federation of International Basketball, an independent organization that governs international basketball.

Girl shoots a basketball while waiting for a ride to school. (AP Photo/ Charlie Neibergall)

Since its invention, basketball has also been a popular sport for women. Basketball was also a popular sport for women. Women's basketball came of age with the gold-medal victory of the American women's basketball team at the 1996 Olympics, increased media attention to women's college basketball tournament, and the establishment of professional women's basketball leagues. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was founded in 1997.

Basketball has a unique appeal. As one sport journalist explained, “The deep appeal of basketball lies in the fact that the poorest of kids can make it rich, and that there is a mystery in how he does it. Neither baseball nor football creates the special, jazzed-up excitement of this game in which the human body can be made to do unearthly things, to defy gravity gracefully. A trust in mystery is part of the foolishly beautiful side of the American dream, which actually believes that the impossible is possible.”

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.

Feature Articles ( from
“Redeem Team” Brings Back U.S. Basketball Glory. Improved planning, teamwork help win Olympic gold, by Paul Levitan
“Trinity” of Sports Demonstrates American Beliefs. Popular games cast light on moral decisions in real life, says religion scholar, by Craig A. Forney
Basketball Career Still an Inner-City Dream. But only few achieve star status, financial rewards, by Steven A. Riess
Basketball Was First to Breach Race Barriers. Shows unique blend of team play and individual virtuosity, by Roger Rosenblatt
Basketball’s March Madness Thrills Fans, Boosts School Morale. U.S. college basketball tournament starts March 20, lasts three weeks
Foreign Players Help San Antonio Win Basketball Championship. More international players, broadcasts increase popularity for NBA Finals, by Tim Receveur

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Updated: July 2009