How Long Has Basketball Been Around? Things to Know

Like all things, basketball had to start somewhere. Have you wondered where this sport originated? How long has it been since the first game of basketball? When did the other basketball associations start?

Basketball started in 1891, which means that official and non-official games have been played for over a century. It began when James Naismith, a Springfield College instructor, and lover of athletics, sought a less injury-prone activity than American football. His studies went on to develop basketball, the sport many people know and love today.

You arrived on this page, looking for answers about the origins of basketball and you came to the right place. Continue reading to know how basketball originated, along with the different organizations surrounding the sport.

how long basketball been around

It was James Naismith that invented basketball in the winter of 1891. He got the idea while looking at a gymnasium class with students participating in activities like calisthenics and marching. The inventor was thinking of a sport that’s more fast-paced than marching yet less injury-prone than American football.

Naismith had an idea about tossing a ball into a basket. Also, two teams of five players would compete for control over the ball. Naismith was the first to toss the ball from mid-court, which then lead to the first game of basketball.

Since then, news of this new sport has spread like wildfire. Only a few weeks passed since the first game when students introduced the activity to their college associations. Publication companies would soon print the first rules of the game for everyone to understand how to play the sport.

It wasn’t a smooth ride as some organizations changed some of the initial rules. Nonetheless, the initial name of the sport went untouched to this day.

What Were the First Rules of Basketball?

Today, basketball has a long list of rules that make the sport as fair as possible to all participants. However, it only had 13 rules in its early stages.

These 13 rules are:

How Long Has FIBA Been Around?


The Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) or the International Basketball Federation started on June 18, 1932, in Geneva. At this time, it was about 41 years since Naismith invented the sport. It was also two years since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized basketball as an official sport.

The founding members of the FIBA had eight nations, which were the following countries:

In the summer of 1936, which was also during the year’s Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, this organization named James Naismith to be the founder of basketball and FIBA’s honorary president.

How Long Has College Basketball Been Around?

It was in February 1895 when Hamline and the Minnesota State School of Agriculture started playing basketball. This game would also be the first recorded college basketball game in history. However, it wasn’t until January 1896 when the first college game with five players per team would take place. This game had Iowa and Chicago colleges that played that particular match.

How Long Has the NBA Been Around?

how long has NBA been around

Although basketball started in 1891, it wasn’t until 1946 when the Basketball Association of America (BAA) came to be. This organization would soon merge with the National Basketball League (NBL). The merging of the two governing bodies would become the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The BAA started with 11 teams at the time of its creation. However, the association lost four before the start of its second season. Despite this loss, the BAA was still more successful than the NBL, which was the former association’s rival back then.

In 1949, both basketball leagues formed the NBA. This lead to the creation of 17 teams at that time. However, the path to building a proper basketball league wasn’t easy at that time as the NBA had multiple losses. After only six years since its fruition, the NBA ended up with eight teams as financial troubles plagued the association.

These eight teams continued to play for years. It wasn’t until 1961 when the Chicago Packers joined the league.

In 2004, the NBA had a total of 21 teams. At the time of writing, this basketball association has 30 teams in total.

How Long Has the WNBA Been Around?

Basketball started as a men’s sport but the appeal existed for males and females. Thus, a professional basketball league for women was established in 1978.

Bill Byrne, a sports entrepreneur, found the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL). The origins of this league had similar troubles when the NBA began. However, most of these concerns were financial in origin. As such, the WBL met its demise only three years after its founding.

It wasn’t until 1993 when another women’s basketball organization came to be. Called the Women’s Basketball Association (WBA), this league also met an early end in 1995. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) soon came to be several months after the end of the WBA.

Backed by David Stern, an American lawyer and business executive, along with the NBA, the WNBA’s first season came to life on June 21, 1997. At the time of writing, the WNBA currently has 21 teams playing in the league.

Final Words

Basketball, as an activity, has been around for more than a century. But the creation of official basketball leagues didn’t start until a few years after the first official games happened.

Basketball’s history isn’t a straight and clean path but a rocky road. But despite the challenges, especially the financial troubles, many players and enthusiasts can still enjoy this game to this day.

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