A team can score a field goal by shooting the ball through the basket being defended by the opposition team during regular play. A field goal scores three points for the shooting team if the player shoots from behind the three-point line, and two points if shot from in front of the line. A team can also score via free throws, which are worth one point, after the other team is assessed with certain fouls. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but additional time is issued when the score is tied at the end of regulation. The ball can be advanced on the court by throwing it to a teammate, or by bouncing it while walking or running. It is a violation to lift, or drag, one’s pivot foot without dribbling the ball, to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling.
There are many techniques for ball-handling—shooting, passing, dribbling, and rebounding. Basketball teams generally have player positions, the tallest and strongest members of a team are called a center or power forward, while slightly shorter and more agile players are called small forward, and the shortest players or those who possess the best ball handling skills are called a point guard or shooting guard. The point guard directs the on court action of the team, implementing the coach’s game plan, and managing the execution of offensive and defensive plays (player positioning).
Basketball is one of the world’s most popular and widely viewed sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most popular and widely considered to be the highest level of professional basketball in the world and NBA players are the world’s best paid sportsmen, by average annual salary per player. Outside North America, the top clubs from national leagues qualify to continental championships such as the Euroleague and FIBA Americas League. The FIBA Basketball World Cup attracts the top national teams from around the world. Each continent hosts regional competitions for national teams, like EuroBasket and FIBA Americas Championship.
In early December 1891, Canadian 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 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 (3.0 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 a soccer ball. These round balls from “association football” were made, at the time, with a set of laces to close off the hole needed for inserting the inflatable bladder after the other sewn-together segments of the ball’s cover had been flipped outside-in.
These laces could cause bounce passes and dribbling to be unpredictable. Eventually a lace-free ball construction method was invented, and this change to the game was endorsed by Naismith. (Whereas in football, the lace construction proved to be advantageous for gripping and remains to this day.) 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 teammates. 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.
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