The Growth of Basketball

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The Growth of Basketball

(1) The origins of many games and sports are lost in history. No one knows who the first person to play tag or chess was. There are no photos of the first baseball or hockey game. The rules for football developed out of rugby and other earlier games. But one modern sport has a very clear beginning.
(2) James Naismith was born in Canada in 1861. When he got a job at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, he was asked to invent a game. It had to be something that kept students physically active, but could be played indoors -- because students stayed inside most of the long, cold New England winters.
(3) On Dec. 21, 1891, Naismith showed his class the new game he had created out of five basic ideas and thirteen rules. He put two peach baskets up, one at each end of the court. There were nine players on each team, and they used a soccer ball. The bottoms of the peach baskets were intact. Whenever someone threw the ball into a basket, a student would climb a ladder to get the ball out. The player with the ball could not move – he had to pass it or shoot it. Dribbling was not invented until later.
(4) The game began to catch on. By 1906, the game looked a bit more like it does today. It featured metal hoops with nets and backboards. Basketball was first featured in the Olympics in 1936 – and the game was played outside, on dirt, in bad weather. As time went on, basketball grew in popularity in the U.S. Two large leagues – the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the American Basketball Association (ABA) both flourished in the U.S. The NBA was the more traditional and better-known league, but the ABA had great flair. The NBA had established teams like the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, but the ABA had a red-white-and-blue ball, high-flying players, and entertainingly wild and colorful uniforms. The two leagues merged in 1976, bringing some of the showmanship of the ABA to the more formal NBA.
(5) The result was a combined league that was poised, ready for greater growth. What it needed were some exciting rivalries and great players to bring it to the next level. In the 1980’s, the league got both of these. The two best-known teams, the Celtics and Lakers, once again rose to the top of the league. And, they featured two players – Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – who were so outstanding and entertaining that people who had not been fans before began to take notice.
(6) One more player pushed the league from national success to international superstardom in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – Michael Jordan. Arguably the best player in the history of the game, Jordan was exactly what the NBA needed. But that was on the court. Behind the scenes, the NBA and the game of basketball, in general, benefited from the remarkable leadership of a man few people know.
(7) David Stern was chosen as the NBA’s Commissioner in 1984. Like James Naismith, he was not much of an athlete. He was a short man who wore glasses and never played the game well. But Stern is a terrific businessman. He was hired at a time when many of the teams in the league were in trouble financially. Although big-city teams, which had large fan bases, were managing well, many smaller-market teams were barely surviving.
(8) Fans loved the superstars on the court, but they were turned off by players’ behavior off the court, such as drug use and other scandals. Stern immediately instituted new tough-on-drugs policies and used brilliant marketing techniques. The NBA has grown five times as wealthy as it was when Stern first became Commissioner, and it has done so at the international level. At Stern’s insistence, NBA games are shown on TV regularly in dozens of other countries, and the best international players now come to play in the NBA as a result. NBA teams also play at least one game a year in a foreign country. With the NBA and their own leagues, countries all over the world are playing and watching basketball more than ever before.

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Word Lists:

Featured : having distinctive attributes or aspects of a specified kind

Flair : a special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well

League : a collection of people, countries, or groups that combine for a particular purpose, typically mutual protection or cooperation

Ball : a solid or hollow spherical or egg-shaped object that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game

Intact : not damaged or impaired in any way; complete

Surviving : remaining alive, especially after the death of another or others

Poised : having a composed and self-assured manner

Outstanding : exceptionally good

International : existing, occurring, or carried on between two or more nations

Court : a tribunal presided over by a judge, judges, or a magistrate in civil and criminal cases


Additional Information:

Rating: A

Words: 723

Unique Words : 321

Sentences : 55

Reading Time : 3:12

Noun : 243

Conjunction : 80

Adverb : 38

Interjection : 0

Adjective : 60

Pronoun : 28

Verb : 111

Preposition : 84

Letter Count : 3,186

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Formal

Difficult Words : 156

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