Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 1998


November 10, 1998


r. James Naismith's 13 original rules of "basket ball" were first published in January of 1892 in the Springfield (Mass.) College newspaper, the Triangle.

Today, the typewritten original is owned by the Naismith family. Ian Naismith, grandson of the founder of the game, has it safely tucked away in a safety deposit box in a downtown Chicago bank.

Dr. Naismith was working at Springfield College when he devised the game. He moved to Lawrence in 1898 to become Kansas University's chaplain and basketball coach. Naismith died in 1939 and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery on East 15th Street.

Here are Naismith's original rules:

1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.

2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).

3. A player cannot run with the ball, the player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance is to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed.

4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.

5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or if there was evident intent to injure the person, the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.

6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules 5 and 4, and such as described in rule 5.

7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the meantime making a foul).

8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds (into the basket) and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edge and the opponent moves the basket it shall count as a goal.

Note: Naismith inserted the words "into the basket" in pen between the typewritten lines.

9. When the ball goes out of bounds it shall be thrown into the field, and played by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower is allowed five seconds, if he holds it longer it shall go to the opponent. If any side presists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on them.

10. The umpire shall be judge of the men, and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to rule 5.

11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds and to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.

12. The time shall be two fifteen minute halves, with five minutes rest between.

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners. In case of a draw the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

At the end of the typewritten list of rules, Naismith wrote these words in pen and ink in June of 1931:

"First draft of Basket Ball rules. Hung in the gym that the boys might learn the rules. Dec. 1891. James Naismith."

Also typed on the original rules are these words: "The ball is to be an ordinary Association foot ball."

Many changes have been made in the rules since. Among them:

1908-1909 -- A dribbler is permitted to shoot. A second referee is added to curb rough play.

1913-14 -- The bottom of the net is left open.

1923-24 -- The player fouled must shoot his own free throws.

1932-33 -- The 10-second center line is installed to cut down on stalling.

1935-36 -- No offensive player can remain in the free-throw lane, with or without the ball, for more than three seconds.

1937-38 -- The center jump after every goal is eliminated.

1944-45 -- Defensive goal-tending is banned.

1956-57 -- The free-throw lane is increased from six feet to 12 feet.

1957-58 -- Offensive goal-tending banned.

1967-68 -- The dunk is made illegal during the game and pregame warmups.

1976-77 -- The dunk is made legal again.

1981-82 -- The jump ball is used only at the beginning of the game and the start of each overtime. An alternating arrow determines possession in jump-ball situations.

1984-85 -- The coaching box is introduced.

1985-86 -- The 45-second clock is introduced. The head coach may stand throughout the game, while all other bench personnel must remain seated.

1986-87 -- The three-point field goal is introduced and set at 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket.

1993-94 -- The shot clock is reduced from 45 seconds to 35 seconds.

1995-96 -- Team are allowed one 20-second timeout per half.

1997-98 -- Timeout requests can be made by a player on the court or by the head coach.

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