Basketball

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately 9.4 inches (24 cm) in diameter) through the defender's hoop (a basket 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter mounted 10 feet (3.048 m) high to a backboard at each end of the court) while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling) or by passing it to a teammate, both of which require considerable skill. On offense, players may use a variety of shots—the lay-up, the jump shot, or a dunk; on defense, they may steal the ball from a dribbler, intercept passes, or block shots; either offense or defense may collect a rebound, that is, a missed shot that bounces from rim or backboard. 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.

The five players on each side at a time fall into five playing positions: the tallest player is usually the center, the tallest and strongest is the power forward, a slightly shorter but more agile big man is the small forward, and the shortest players or the best ball handlers are the shooting guard and the point guard, who implements the coach's game plan by managing the execution of offensive and defensive plays (player positioning). Informally, players may play three-on-three, two-on-two, and one-on-one.

Invented in 1891 by Canadian-American gym teacher James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States, basketball has evolved to become one of the world's most popular and widely viewed sports.[1] The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most significant professional basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries, talent, and level of competition.[2][3] 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 and Men's Olympic Basketball Tournament are the major international events of the sport and attract top national teams from around the world. Each continent hosts regional competitions for national teams, like EuroBasket and FIBA AmeriCup.

The FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup and Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament feature top national teams from continental championships. The main North American league is the WNBA (NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship is also popular), whereas strongest European clubs participate in the EuroLeague Women.

Basketball
LeBron James Layup (Cleveland vs Brooklyn 2018)
LeBron James attempts a layup shot against the Brooklyn Nets
Highest governing bodyFIBA
First playedDecember 21, 1891. Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Characteristics
ContactLimited
Team members5 per side
Mixed genderYes, separate competitions
TypeIndoor/Outdoor
EquipmentBasketball
VenueIndoor court (mainly) or outdoor court (Streetball)
GlossaryGlossary of basketball
Presence
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicYes, demonstrated in the 1904 and 1924 Summer Olympics
Part of the Summer Olympic program since 1936
ParalympicYes

History

Creation

James Naismith at Springfield College circa 1920
Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the sport of basketball
Firstbasketball
The first basketball court: Springfield College

In early December 1891, Canadian James Naismith,[4] a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School[5] (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,[6] allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.

Basketball historic
Old style basketball with laces

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.[7][8] These laces could cause bounce passes and dribbling to be unpredictable.[9] Eventually a lace-free ball construction method was invented, and this change to the game was endorsed by Naismith. (Whereas in American 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.

The peach baskets were used until 1906 when they were finally replaced by metal hoops with backboards. A further change was soon made, so the ball merely passed through. Whenever a person got the ball in the basket, his team would gain a point. Whichever team got the most points won the game.[10] The baskets were originally nailed to the mezzanine balcony of the playing court, but this proved impractical when spectators in the balcony began to interfere with shots. The backboard was introduced to prevent this interference; it had the additional effect of allowing rebound shots.[11] Naismith's handwritten diaries, discovered by his granddaughter in early 2006, indicate that he was nervous about the new game he had invented, which incorporated rules from a children's game called duck on a rock, as many had failed before it.

Frank Mahan, one of the players from the original first game, approached Naismith after the Christmas break, in early 1892, asking him what he intended to call his new game. Naismith replied that he hadn't thought of it because he had been focused on just getting the game started. Mahan suggested that it be called "Naismith ball", at which he laughed, saying that a name like that would kill any game. Mahan then said, "Why not call it basketball?" Naismith replied, "We have a basket and a ball, and it seems to me that would be a good name for it."[12][13] The first official game was played in the YMCA gymnasium in Albany, New York, on January 20, 1892, with nine players. The game ended at 1–0; the shot was made from 25 feet (7.6 m), on a court just half the size of a present-day Streetball or National Basketball Association (NBA) court.

At the time, football was being played with 10 to a team (which was increased to 11). When winter weather got too icy to play football, teams were taken indoors, and it was convenient to have them split in half and play basketball with five on each side. By 1897–1898 teams of five became standard.

College basketball

Kansas U team 1899
The 1899 University of Kansas basketball team, with James Naismith at the back, right.

Basketball's early adherents were dispatched to YMCAs throughout the United States, and it quickly spread through the United States and Canada. By 1895, it was well established at several women's high schools. While the YMCA was responsible for initially developing and spreading the game, within a decade it discouraged the new sport, as rough play and rowdy crowds began to detract from the YMCA's primary mission. However, other amateur sports clubs, colleges, and professional clubs quickly filled the void. In the years before World War I, the Amateur Athletic Union and the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (forerunner of the NCAA) vied for control over the rules for the game. The first pro league, the National Basketball League, was formed in 1898 to protect players from exploitation and to promote a less rough game. This league only lasted five years.

James Naismith was instrumental in establishing college basketball. His colleague C.O. Beamis fielded the first college basketball team just a year after the Springfield YMCA game at the suburban Pittsburgh Geneva College.[14] Naismith himself later coached at the University of Kansas for six years, before handing the reins to renowned coach Forrest "Phog" Allen. Naismith's disciple Amos Alonzo Stagg brought basketball to the University of Chicago, while Adolph Rupp, a student of Naismith's at Kansas, enjoyed great success as coach at the University of Kentucky. On February 9, 1895, the first intercollegiate 5-on-5 game was played at Hamline University between Hamline and the School of Agriculture, which was affiliated with the University of Minnesota.[15][16][17] The School of Agriculture won in a 9–3 game.

In 1901, colleges, including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the University of Minnesota, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Colorado and Yale University began sponsoring men's games. In 1905, frequent injuries on the football field prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to suggest that colleges form a governing body, resulting in the creation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS). In 1910, that body would change its name to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The first Canadian interuniversity basketball game was played at the YMCA in Kingston, Ontario on February 6, 1904, when McGill University—Naismith's alma mater—visited Queen's University. McGill won 9–7 in overtime; the score was 7–7 at the end of regulation play, and a ten-minute overtime period settled the outcome. A good turnout of spectators watched the game.[18]

The first men's national championship tournament, the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament, which still exists as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament, was organized in 1937. The first national championship for NCAA teams, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York, was organized in 1938; the NCAA national tournament would begin one year later. College basketball was rocked by gambling scandals from 1948 to 1951, when dozens of players from top teams were implicated in match fixing and point shaving. Partially spurred by an association with cheating, the NIT lost support to the NCAA tournament.

High school basketball

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Heart Mountain, Wyoming. A hotly contested interscholastic basket . . . - NARA - 539726
A basketball game between the Heart Mountain and Powell High School girls teams, Wyoming, March 1944

Before widespread school district consolidation, most American high schools were far smaller than their present-day counterparts. During the first decades of the 20th century, basketball quickly became the ideal interscholastic sport due to its modest equipment and personnel requirements. In the days before widespread television coverage of professional and college sports, the popularity of high school basketball was unrivaled in many parts of America. Perhaps the most legendary of high school teams was Indiana's Franklin Wonder Five, which took the nation by storm during the 1920s, dominating Indiana basketball and earning national recognition.

Today virtually every high school in the United States fields a basketball team in varsity competition.[19] Basketball's popularity remains high, both in rural areas where they carry the identification of the entire community, as well as at some larger schools known for their basketball teams where many players go on to participate at higher levels of competition after graduation. In the 2016–17 season, 980,673 boys and girls represented their schools in interscholastic basketball competition, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.[20] The states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are particularly well known for their residents' devotion to high school basketball, commonly called Hoosier Hysteria in Indiana; the critically acclaimed film Hoosiers shows high school basketball's depth of meaning to these communities.

There is currently no tournament to determine a national high school champion. The most serious effort was the National Interscholastic Basketball Tournament at the University of Chicago from 1917 to 1930. The event was organized by Amos Alonzo Stagg and sent invitations to state champion teams. The tournament started out as a mostly Midwest affair but grew. In 1929 it had 29 state champions. Faced with opposition from the National Federation of State High School Associations and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools that bore a threat of the schools losing their accreditation the last tournament was in 1930. The organizations said they were concerned that the tournament was being used to recruit professional players from the prep ranks.[21] The tournament did not invite minority schools or private/parochial schools.

The National Catholic Interscholastic Basketball Tournament ran from 1924 to 1941 at Loyola University.[22] The National Catholic Invitational Basketball Tournament from 1954 to 1978 played at a series of venues, including Catholic University, Georgetown and George Mason.[23] The National Interscholastic Basketball Tournament for Black High Schools was held from 1929 to 1942 at Hampton Institute.[24] The National Invitational Interscholastic Basketball Tournament was held from 1941 to 1967 starting out at Tuskegee Institute. Following a pause during World War II it resumed at Tennessee State College in Nashville. The basis for the champion dwindled after 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education began an integration of schools. The last tournaments were held at Alabama State College from 1964 to 1967.[25]

Professional basketball

Liberator-ad
Ad from The Liberator magazine promoting an exhibition in Harlem, March 1922. Drawing by Hugo Gellert.

Teams abounded throughout the 1920s. There were hundreds of men's professional basketball teams in towns and cities all over the United States, and little organization of the professional game. Players jumped from team to team and teams played in armories and smoky dance halls. Leagues came and went. Barnstorming squads such as the Original Celtics and two all-African American teams, the New York Renaissance Five ("Rens") and the (still existing) Harlem Globetrotters played up to two hundred games a year on their national tours.

In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed. The first game was played in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers on November 1, 1946. Three seasons later, in 1949, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the National Basketball Association (NBA). By the 1950s, basketball had become a major college sport, thus paving the way for a growth of interest in professional basketball. In 1959, a basketball hall of fame was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts, site of the first game. Its rosters include the names of great players, coaches, referees and people who have contributed significantly to the development of the game. The hall of fame has people who have accomplished many goals in their career in basketball. An upstart organization, the American Basketball Association, emerged in 1967 and briefly threatened the NBA's dominance until the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. Today the NBA is the top professional basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries, talent, and level of competition.

The NBA has featured many famous players, including George Mikan, the first dominating "big man"; ball-handling wizard Bob Cousy and defensive genius Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics; charismatic center Wilt Chamberlain, who originally played for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters; all-around stars Oscar Robertson and Jerry West; more recent big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone; playmakers John Stockton, Isiah Thomas and Steve Nash; crowd-pleasing forwards Julius Erving and Charles Barkley; European stars Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker; more recent superstars LeBron James, Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant; and the three players who many credit with ushering the professional game to its highest level of popularity during the 1980s and 1990s: Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

In 2001, the NBA formed a developmental league, the National Basketball Development League (later known as the NBA D-League and then the NBA G League after a branding deal with Gatorade). As of the 2018–19 season, the G League has 27 teams.

International basketball

Basketball World Cup 2014
The U.S. playing against Mexico at the 2014 FIBA World Cup

FIBA (International Basketball Federation) was formed in 1932 by eight founding nations: Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland. At this time, the organization only oversaw amateur players. Its acronym, derived from the French Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball Amateur, was thus "FIBA". Men's basketball was first included at the Berlin 1936 Summer Olympics, although a demonstration tournament was held in 1904. The United States defeated Canada in the first final, played outdoors. This competition has usually been dominated by the United States, whose team has won all but three titles. The first of these came in a controversial final game in Munich in 1972 against the Soviet Union, in which the ending of the game was replayed three times until the Soviet Union finally came out on top.[26] In 1950 the first FIBA World Championship for men, now known as the FIBA Basketball World Cup, was held in Argentina. Three years later, the first FIBA World Championship for women, now known as the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, was held in Chile. Women's basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976, which were held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with teams such as the Soviet Union, Brazil and Australia rivaling the American squads.

In 1989, FIBA allowed professional NBA players to participate in the Olympics for the first time. Prior to the 1992 Summer Olympics, only European and South American teams were allowed to field professionals in the Olympics. The United States' dominance continued with the introduction of the original Dream Team. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States suffered its first Olympic loss while using professional players, falling to Puerto Rico (in a 19-point loss) and Lithuania in group games, and being eliminated in the semifinals by Argentina. It eventually won the bronze medal defeating Lithuania, finishing behind Argentina and Italy. The Redeem Team, won gold at the 2008 Olympics, and the B-Team, won gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey despite featuring no players from the 2008 squad. The United States continued its dominance as they won gold at the 2012 Olympics, 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Worldwide, basketball tournaments are held for boys and girls of all age levels. The global popularity of the sport is reflected in the nationalities represented in the NBA. Players from all six inhabited continents currently play in the NBA. Top international players began coming into the NBA in the mid-1990s, including Croatians Dražen Petrović and Toni Kukoč, Serbian Vlade Divac, Lithuanians Arvydas Sabonis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Dutchman Rik Smits and German Detlef Schrempf.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Basketball Association's first game was played on April 9, 1975 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City. Philippines. It was founded as a "rebellion" of several teams from the now-defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association, which was tightly controlled by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (now defunct), the then-FIBA recognized national association. Nine teams from the MICAA participated in the league's first season that opened on April 9, 1975. The NBL is Australia's pre-eminent men's professional basketball league. The league commenced in 1979, playing a winter season (April–September) and did so until the completion of the 20th season in 1998. The 1998–99 season, which commenced only months later, was the first season after the shift to the current summer season format (October–April). This shift was an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia's various football codes. It features 8 teams from around Australia and one in New Zealand. A few players including Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, Shane Heal, Chris Anstey and Andrew Bogut made it big internationally, becoming poster figures for the sport in Australia. The Women's National Basketball League began in 1981.

Women's basketball

Women's basketball began in 1892 at Smith College when Senda Berenson, a physical education teacher, modified Naismith's rules for women. Shortly after she was hired at Smith, she went to Naismith to learn more about the game.[27] Fascinated by the new sport and the values it could teach, she organized the first women's collegiate basketball game on March 21, 1893, when her Smith freshmen and sophomores played against one another.[28] However, the first women's interinstitutional game was played in 1892 between the University of California and Miss Head's School.[29] Berenson's rules were first published in 1899, and two years later she became the editor of A. G. Spalding's first Women's Basketball Guide.[28] Berenson's freshmen played the sophomore class in the first women's intercollegiate basketball game at Smith College, March 21, 1893.[30] The same year, Mount Holyoke and Sophie Newcomb College (coached by Clara Gregory Baer) women began playing basketball. By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesley, Vassar, and Bryn Mawr. The first intercollegiate women's game was on April 4, 1896. Stanford women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2–1 Stanford victory.

Women's basketball development was more structured than that for men in the early years. In 1905, the Executive Committee on Basket Ball Rules (National Women's Basketball Committee) was created by the American Physical Education Association.[31] These rules called for six to nine players per team and 11 officials. The International Women's Sports Federation (1924) included a women's basketball competition. 37 women's high school varsity basketball or state tournaments were held by 1925. And in 1926, the Amateur Athletic Union backed the first national women's basketball championship, complete with men's rules.[31] The Edmonton Grads, a touring Canadian women's team based in Edmonton, Alberta, operated between 1915 and 1940. The Grads toured all over North America, and were exceptionally successful. They posted a record of 522 wins and only 20 losses over that span, as they met any team that wanted to challenge them, funding their tours from gate receipts.[32] The Grads also shone on several exhibition trips to Europe, and won four consecutive exhibition Olympics tournaments, in 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936; however, women's basketball was not an official Olympic sport until 1976. The Grads' players were unpaid, and had to remain single. The Grads' style focused on team play, without overly emphasizing skills of individual players. The first women's AAU All-America team was chosen in 1929.[31] Women's industrial leagues sprang up throughout the United States, producing famous athletes, including Babe Didrikson of the Golden Cyclones, and the All American Red Heads Team, which competed against men's teams, using men's rules. By 1938, the women's national championship changed from a three-court game to two-court game with six players per team.[31]

Brittney Griner accepting Wade Trophy 2
Brittney Griner accepting an award

The NBA-backed Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) began in 1997. Though it had shaky attendance figures, several marquee players (Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, and Candace Parker among others) have helped the league's popularity and level of competition. Other professional women's basketball leagues in the United States, such as the American Basketball League (1996–98), have folded in part because of the popularity of the WNBA. The WNBA has been looked at by many as a niche league. However, the league has recently taken steps forward. In June 2007, the WNBA signed a contract extension with ESPN. The new television deal ran from 2009 to 2016. Along with this deal, came the first ever rights fees to be paid to a women's professional sports league. Over the eight years of the contract, "millions and millions of dollars" were "dispersed to the league's teams." In a March 12, 2009 article, NBA commissioner David Stern said that in the bad economy, "the NBA is far less profitable than the WNBA. We're losing a lot of money among a large number of teams. We're budgeting the WNBA to break even this year."[33]

Rules and regulations

Canasta y tablero - 0.00
End of a match as the shotclock shows no time left.
Basketball terms
Most important terms related to the basketball court

Measurements and time limits discussed in this section often vary among tournaments and organizations; international and NBA rules are used in this section.

The object of the game is to outscore one's opponents by throwing the ball through the opponents' basket from above while preventing the opponents from doing so on their own. An attempt to score in this way is called a shot. A successful shot is worth two points, or three points if it is taken from beyond the three-point arc 6.75 metres (22 ft 2 in) from the basket in international games and 23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m) in NBA games.[34] A one-point shot can be earned when shooting from the foul line after a foul is made.

Playing regulations

Games are played in four quarters of 10 (FIBA)[35] or 12 minutes (NBA).[36] College men's games use two 20-minute halves,[37] college women's games use 10-minute quarters,[38] and most United States high school varsity games use 8 minute quarters, however, this varies from state to state.[39][40] 15 minutes are allowed for a half-time break under FIBA, NBA, and NCAA rules[37][41][42] and 10 minutes in United States high schools.[39] Overtime periods are five minutes in length[37][43][44] except for high school, which is four minutes in length.[39] Teams exchange baskets for the second half. The time allowed is actual playing time; the clock is stopped while the play is not active. Therefore, games generally take much longer to complete than the allotted game time, typically about two hours.

Five players from each team may be on the court at one time.[45][46][47][48] Substitutions are unlimited but can only be done when play is stopped. Teams also have a coach, who oversees the development and strategies of the team, and other team personnel such as assistant coaches, managers, statisticians, doctors and trainers.

For both men's and women's teams, a standard uniform consists of a pair of shorts and a jersey with a clearly visible number, unique within the team, printed on both the front and back. Players wear high-top sneakers that provide extra ankle support. Typically, team names, players' names and, outside of North America, sponsors are printed on the uniforms.

A limited number of time-outs, clock stoppages requested by a coach (or sometimes mandated in the NBA) for a short meeting with the players, are allowed. They generally last no longer than one minute (100 seconds in the NBA) unless, for televised games, a commercial break is needed.

The game is controlled by the officials consisting of the referee (referred to as crew chief in the NBA), one or two umpires (referred to as referees in the NBA) and the table officials. For college, the NBA, and many high schools, there are a total of three referees on the court. The table officials are responsible for keeping track of each teams scoring, timekeeping, individual and team fouls, player substitutions, team possession arrow, and the shot clock.

Equipment

Basketball
Traditional eight-panel basketball

The only essential equipment in a basketball game is the ball and the court: a flat, rectangular surface with baskets at opposite ends. Competitive levels require the use of more equipment such as clocks, score sheets, scoreboard(s), alternating possession arrows, and whistle-operated stop-clock systems.

Basketball Goal
An outdoor basketball net

A regulation basketball court in international games is 91.9 feet (28.0 meters) long and 49.2 feet (15 meters) wide. In the NBA and NCAA the court is 94 by 50 feet (29 by 15 meters).[34] Most courts have wood flooring, usually constructed from maple planks running in the same direction as the longer court dimension.[49][50] The name and logo of the home team is usually painted on or around the center circle.

The basket is a steel rim 18 inches (46 cm) diameter with an attached net affixed to a backboard that measures 6 by 3.5 feet (1.8 by 1.1 meters) and one basket is at each end of the court. The white outlined box on the backboard is 18 inches (46 cm) high and 2 feet (61 cm) wide. At almost all levels of competition, the top of the rim is exactly 10 feet (3.05 meters) above the court and 4 feet (1.22 meters) inside the baseline. While variation is possible in the dimensions of the court and backboard, it is considered important for the basket to be of the correct height – a rim that is off by just a few inches can have an adverse effect on shooting.

The size of the basketball is also regulated. For men, the official ball is 29.5 inches (75 cm) in circumference (size 7, or a "295 ball") and weighs 22 oz (623.69 grams). If women are playing, the official basketball size is 28.5 inches (72 cm) in circumference (size 6, or a "285 ball") with a weight of 20 oz (567 grams). In 3x3, a formalized version of the halfcourt 3-on-3 game, a dedicated ball with the circumference of a size 6 ball but the weight of a size 7 ball is used in all competitions (men's, women's, and mixed teams).[51]

Violations

The ball may be advanced toward the basket by being shot, passed between players, thrown, tapped, rolled or dribbled (bouncing the ball while running).

The ball must stay within the court; the last team to touch the ball before it travels out of bounds forfeits possession. The ball is out of bounds if it touches a boundary line, or touches any player or object that is out of bounds.

There are limits placed on the steps a player may take without dribbling, which commonly results in an infraction known as traveling. Nor may a player stop his dribble and then resume dribbling. A dribble that touches both hands is considered stopping the dribble, giving this infraction the name double dribble. Within a dribble, the player cannot carry the ball by placing his hand on the bottom of the ball; doing so is known as carrying the ball. A team, once having established ball control in the front half of their court, may not return the ball to the backcourt and be the first to touch it. A violation of these rules results in loss of possession.

The ball may not be kicked, nor be struck with the fist. For the offense, a violation of these rules results in loss of possession; for the defense, most leagues reset the shot clock and the offensive team is given possession of the ball out of bounds.

There are limits imposed on the time taken before progressing the ball past halfway (8 seconds in FIBA and the NBA; 10 seconds in NCAA and high school for both sexes), before attempting a shot (24 seconds in FIBA, the NBA, and U Sports (Canadian universities) play for both sexes, and 30 seconds in NCAA play for both sexes), holding the ball while closely guarded (5 seconds), and remaining in the restricted area known as the free-throw lane, (or the "key") (3 seconds). These rules are designed to promote more offense.

Basket interference, or goaltending is a violation charged when a player illegally interferes with a shot. This violation is incurred when a player touches the ball on its downward trajectory to the basket, unless it is obvious that the ball has no chance of entering the basket, if a player touches the ball while it is in the rim, or in the area extended upwards from the basket, or if a player reaches through the basket to interfere with the shot. When a defensive player is charged with goaltending, the basket is awarded. If an offensive player commits the infraction, the basket is cancelled. In either case possession of the ball is turned over to the defensive team.

Fouls

Basketball foul
The referee signals that a foul has been committed

An attempt to unfairly disadvantage an opponent through certain types of physical contact is illegal and is called a personal foul. These are most commonly committed by defensive players; however, they can be committed by offensive players as well. Players who are fouled either receive the ball to pass inbounds again, or receive one or more free throws if they are fouled in the act of shooting, depending on whether the shot was successful. One point is awarded for making a free throw, which is attempted from a line 15 feet (4.6 m) from the basket.

The referee is responsible for judging whether contact is illegal, sometimes resulting in controversy. The calling of fouls can vary between games, leagues and referees.

There is a second category of fouls called technical fouls, which may be charged for various rules violations including failure to properly record a player in the scorebook, or for unsportsmanlike conduct. These infractions result in one or two free throws, which may be taken by any of the five players on the court at the time. Repeated incidents can result in disqualification. A blatant foul involving physical contact that is either excessive or unnecessary is called an intentional foul (flagrant foul in the NBA). In FIBA and NCAA women's basketball, a foul resulting in ejection is called a disqualifying foul, while in leagues other than the NBA, such a foul is referred to as flagrant.

If a team exceeds a certain limit of team fouls in a given period (quarter or half) – four for NBA, NCAA women's, and international games – the opposing team is awarded one or two free throws on all subsequent non-shooting fouls for that period, the number depending on the league. In the US college men's game and high school games for both sexes, if a team reaches 7 fouls in a half, the opposing team is awarded one free throw, along with a second shot if the first is made. This is called shooting "one-and-one". If a team exceeds 10 fouls in the half, the opposing team is awarded two free throws on all subsequent fouls for the half.

When a team shoots foul shots, the opponents may not interfere with the shooter, nor may they try to regain possession until the last or potentially last free throw is in the air.

After a team has committed a specified number of fouls, the other team is said to be "in the bonus". On scoreboards, this is usually signified with an indicator light reading "Bonus" or "Penalty" with an illuminated directional arrow or dot indicating that team is to receive free throws when fouled by the opposing team. (Some scoreboards also indicate the number of fouls committed.)

If a team misses the first shot of a two-shot situation, the opposing team must wait for the completion of the second shot before attempting to reclaim possession of the ball and continuing play.

If a player is fouled while attempting a shot and the shot is unsuccessful, the player is awarded a number of free throws equal to the value of the attempted shot. A player fouled while attempting a regular two-point shot thus receives two shots, and a player fouled while attempting a three-point shot receives three shots.

If a player is fouled while attempting a shot and the shot is successful, typically the player will be awarded one additional free throw for one point. In combination with a regular shot, this is called a "three-point play" or "four-point play" (or more colloquially, an "and one") because of the basket made at the time of the foul (2 or 3 points) and the additional free throw (1 point).

Common techniques and practices

Positions

Basketball positions
Basketball positions in the offensive zone

Although the rules do not specify any positions whatsoever, they have evolved as part of basketball. During the early years of basketball's evolution, two guards, two forwards, and one center were used. In more recent times specific positions evolved, but the current trend, advocated by many top coaches including Mike Krzyzewski is towards positionless basketball, where big guys are free to shoot from outside and dribble if their skill allows it.[52] Popular descriptions of positions include:

Point guard (often called the "1") : usually the fastest player on the team, organizes the team's offense by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right player at the right time.

Shooting guard (the "2") : creates a high volume of shots on offense, mainly long-ranged; and guards the opponent's best perimeter player on defense.

Small forward (the "3") : often primarily responsible for scoring points via cuts to the basket and dribble penetration; on defense seeks rebounds and steals, but sometimes plays more actively.

Power forward (the "4"): plays offensively often with their back to the basket; on defense, plays under the basket (in a zone defense) or against the opposing power forward (in man-to-man defense).

Center (the "5"): uses height and size to score (on offense), to protect the basket closely (on defense), or to rebound.

The above descriptions are flexible. For most teams today, the shooting guard and small forward have very similar responsibilities and are often called the wings, as do the power forward and center, who are often called post players. While most teams describe two players as guards, two as forwards, and one as a center, on some occasions teams choose to call them by different designations.

Strategy

There are two main defensive strategies: zone defense and man-to-man defense. In a zone defense, each player is assigned to guard a specific area of the court. Zone defenses often allow the defense to double team the ball, a manoeuver known as a trap. In a man-to-man defense, each defensive player guards a specific opponent.

Offensive plays are more varied, normally involving planned passes and movement by players without the ball. A quick movement by an offensive player without the ball to gain an advantageous position is known as a cut. A legal attempt by an offensive player to stop an opponent from guarding a teammate, by standing in the defender's way such that the teammate cuts next to him, is a screen or pick. The two plays are combined in the pick and roll, in which a player sets a pick and then "rolls" away from the pick towards the basket. Screens and cuts are very important in offensive plays; these allow the quick passes and teamwork, which can lead to a successful basket. Teams almost always have several offensive plays planned to ensure their movement is not predictable. On court, the point guard is usually responsible for indicating which play will occur.

Shooting

Basketball shot
Player releases a short jump shot, while her defender is either knocked down, or trying to "take a charge."

Shooting is the act of attempting to score points by throwing the ball through the basket, methods varying with players and situations.

Typically, a player faces the basket with both feet facing the basket. A player will rest the ball on the fingertips of the dominant hand (the shooting arm) slightly above the head, with the other hand supporting the side of the ball. The ball is usually shot by jumping (though not always) and extending the shooting arm. The shooting arm, fully extended with the wrist fully bent, is held stationary for a moment following the release of the ball, known as a follow-through. Players often try to put a steady backspin on the ball to absorb its impact with the rim. The ideal trajectory of the shot is somewhat controversial, but generally a proper arc is recommended. Players may shoot directly into the basket or may use the backboard to redirect the ball into the basket.

Basketball through hoop
Basketball falling through hoop

The two most common shots that use the above described setup are the set shot and the jump shot. The set shot is taken from a standing position, with neither foot leaving the floor, typically used for free throws, and in other circumstances while the jump shot is taken in mid-air, the ball released near the top of the jump. This provides much greater power and range, and it also allows the player to elevate over the defender. Failure to release the ball before the feet return to the floor is considered a traveling violation.

Another common shot is called the lay-up. This shot requires the player to be in motion toward the basket, and to "lay" the ball "up" and into the basket, typically off the backboard (the backboard-free, underhand version is called a finger roll). The most crowd-pleasing and typically highest-percentage accuracy shot is the slam dunk, in which the player jumps very high and throws the ball downward, through the basket while touching it.

Dunk
Slow-motion animation of a dunk

Another shot that is becoming common is the "circus shot". The circus shot is a low-percentage shot that is flipped, heaved, scooped, or flung toward the hoop while the shooter is off-balance, airborne, falling down, and/or facing away from the basket. A back-shot is a shot taken when the player is facing away from the basket, and may be shot with the dominant hand, or both; but there is a very low chance that the shot will be successful.

A shot that misses both the rim and the backboard completely is referred to as an air ball. A particularly bad shot, or one that only hits the backboard, is jocularly called a brick. The hang time is the length of time a player stays in the air after jumping, either to make a slam dunk, lay-up or jump shot.

Rebounding

20130103 Offensive Rebound Glenn Robinson III rebound
A player making an offensive rebound

The objective of rebounding is to successfully gain possession of the basketball after a missed field goal or free throw, as it rebounds from the hoop or backboard. This plays a major role in the game, as most possessions end when a team misses a shot. There are two categories of rebounds: offensive rebounds, in which the ball is recovered by the offensive side and does not change possession, and defensive rebounds, in which the defending team gains possession of the loose ball. The majority of rebounds are defensive, as the team on defense tends to be in better position to recover missed shots.

Passing

A pass is a method of moving the ball between players. Most passes are accompanied by a step forward to increase power and are followed through with the hands to ensure accuracy.

A staple pass is the chest pass. The ball is passed directly from the passer's chest to the receiver's chest. A proper chest pass involves an outward snap of the thumbs to add velocity and leaves the defence little time to react.

Another type of pass is the bounce pass. Here, the passer bounces the ball crisply about two-thirds of the way from his own chest to the receiver. The ball strikes the court and bounces up toward the receiver. The bounce pass takes longer to complete than the chest pass, but it is also harder for the opposing team to intercept (kicking the ball deliberately is a violation). Thus, players often use the bounce pass in crowded moments, or to pass around a defender.

The overhead pass is used to pass the ball over a defender. The ball is released while over the passer's head.

The outlet pass occurs after a team gets a defensive rebound. The next pass after the rebound is the outlet pass.

The crucial aspect of any good pass is it being difficult to intercept. Good passers can pass the ball with great accuracy and they know exactly where each of their other teammates prefers to receive the ball. A special way of doing this is passing the ball without looking at the receiving teammate. This is called a no-look pass.

Another advanced style of passing is the behind-the-back pass, which, as the description implies, involves throwing the ball behind the passer's back to a teammate. Although some players can perform such a pass effectively, many coaches discourage no-look or behind-the-back passes, believing them to be difficult to control and more likely to result in turnovers or violations.

Dribbling

A demonstration of the basic types of dribbling in basketball
Basketball game
A U.S. Naval Academy ("Navy") player, left, posts up a U.S. Military Academy ("Army") defender.

Dribbling is the act of bouncing the ball continuously with one hand, and is a requirement for a player to take steps with the ball. To dribble, a player pushes the ball down towards the ground with the fingertips rather than patting it; this ensures greater control.

When dribbling past an opponent, the dribbler should dribble with the hand farthest from the opponent, making it more difficult for the defensive player to get to the ball. It is therefore important for a player to be able to dribble competently with both hands.

Good dribblers (or "ball handlers") tend to bounce the ball low to the ground, reducing the distance of travel of the ball from the floor to the hand, making it more difficult for the defender to "steal" the ball. Good ball handlers frequently dribble behind their backs, between their legs, and switch directions suddenly, making a less predictable dribbling pattern that is more difficult to defend against. This is called a crossover, which is the most effective way to move past defenders while dribbling.

A skilled player can dribble without watching the ball, using the dribbling motion or peripheral vision to keep track of the ball's location. By not having to focus on the ball, a player can look for teammates or scoring opportunities, as well as avoid the danger of having someone steal the ball away from him/her.

Blocking

A block is performed when, after a shot is attempted, a defender succeeds in altering the shot by touching the ball. In almost all variants of play, it is illegal to touch the ball after it is in the downward path of its arc; this is known as goaltending. It is also illegal under NBA and Men's NCAA basketball to block a shot after it has touched the backboard, or when any part of the ball is directly above the rim. Under international rules it is illegal to block a shot that is in the downward path of its arc or one that has touched the backboard until the ball has hit the rim. After the ball hits the rim, it is again legal to touch it even though it is no longer considered as a block performed.

To block a shot, a player has to be able to reach a point higher than where the shot is released. Thus, height can be an advantage in blocking. Players who are taller and playing the power forward or center positions generally record more blocks than players who are shorter and playing the guard positions. However, with good timing and a sufficiently high vertical leap, even shorter players can be effective shot blockers.

Height

At the professional level, most male players are above 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) and most women above 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m). Guards, for whom physical coordination and ball-handling skills are crucial, tend to be the smallest players. Almost all forwards in the top men's pro leagues are 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) or taller. Most centers are over 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) tall. According to a survey given to all NBA teams, the average height of all NBA players is just under 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m), with the average weight being close to 222 pounds (101 kg). The tallest players ever in the NBA were Manute Bol and Gheorghe Mureșan, who were both 7 feet 7 inches (2.31 m) tall. The tallest current NBA player is Sim Bhullar, who stands at 7 feet 5 inches (2.26 m). At 7 feet 2 inches (2.18 m), Margo Dydek was the tallest player in the history of the WNBA.

The shortest player ever to play in the NBA is Muggsy Bogues at 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m).[53] Other short players have thrived at the pro level. Anthony "Spud" Webb was just 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m) tall, but had a 42-inch (1.1 m) vertical leap, giving him significant height when jumping. While shorter players are often at a disadvantage in certain aspects of the game, their ability to navigate quickly through crowded areas of the court and steal the ball by reaching low are strengths.

It should be noted that players regularly inflate their height. Many prospects exaggerate their height while in high school or college to make themselves more appealing to coaches and scouts, who prefer taller players. Charles Barkley stated; "I've been measured at 6-5, 6-4 ​34. But I started in college at 6-6." Sam Smith, former writer from The Chicago Tribune, said: "We sort of know the heights, because after camp, the sheet comes out. But you use that height, and the player gets mad. And then you hear from his agent. Or you file your story with the right height, and the copy desk changes it because they have the 'official' N.B.A. media guide, which is wrong. So you sort of go along with the joke."[54] In the NBA, there is no standard on whether a player's listed height uses their measurement with shoes on or without. The NBA Draft Combine, which most players attend before the draft, provides both measurements. Thereafter, a player's team is solely responsible for their listed height, which can vary depending on the process selected.[55][56]

Notable players who overstated their height include:

  • Kobe Bryant who's listed height 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m), while his actual height is 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m)[57]
  • Charles Barkley who's listed height 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m), while his actual height is just under 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m)[54]
  • Kevin Love who's listed height 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m), while his actual height is just under 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m)[58]
  • Jason Collins who's listed height 7 feet 0 inches (2.13 m), while his actual height is 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m)[59]
  • Dwight Howard who's listed height 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m), while his actual height is 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m)[60]

On rare occasions, some players will understate their actual heights, not to be repositioned. One example is Kevin Durant, who's listed height 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m), while his actual height is 7 feet 0 inches (2.13 m). Durants' reasoning was, "Really, that's the prototypical size for a small forward. Anything taller than that, and they'll start saying, 'Ah, he's a power forward."[61]

Race and ethnicity

The composition of race and ethnicity in the National Basketball Association (NBA) has changed throughout the league's history. For the 2014-2015 season, international players comprised 21.3 percent of NBA rosters. The same year, the racial breakdown of the NBA was:[62]

  • African 74.4 percent
  • Caucasian 23.3 percent
  • Latino (of any race) 1.8 percent
  • Asian and "other" 0.2 percent

The first non-white player entered the league in 1947.[63] Wataru Misaka debuted in 1947–48 as the first non-white player and the first player of Asian descent to play in the league.[63] Yao Ming became the first East Asian first overall pick, when he was selected by the Houston Rockets in the 2002 NBA draft.

In 2011, Richard Lapchick with The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) of the University of Central Florida reported in their annual Racial and Gender Report Card that 17 percent of the league's players were white, the lowest since the report began in 1990.[a][64][66][67] Hall of Fame player and Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird, who is white, stated in 2004 that the league needed more white players since the league's fans are mostly white. "And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them [the fans, not the guys] a little excited. But it is a black man's game, and it will be forever. I mean, the greatest athletes in the world are African-American," said Bird.[68][69]

More recently, a number of commentators have remarked on the league's dwindling number of white American players. While a TIDES study found that the NBA was 18.3% white in the 2015–16 season, this number also included non-Americans, most notably Europeans. During the entire 1996–97 season, only three NBA teams did not field an American-born white; on the opening day of the 2016–17 season, eight teams did not have a white American on their roster, and an additional 10 teams had only one. At the latter point in time, fewer than 10% of NBA players were American-born whites (43 out of a possible 450).[70]

These proportions have been suggested to be the result of basketball's relatively minor importance in white American culture. As of 2014, white interest in the NBA remains the lowest among all racial groups, with African Americans and Asian Americans spending the most time watching basketball, followed by Hispanics (of any race).[71] Furthermore, according to a Nielsen's survey, the NBA has the highest share of black viewers, with 45 percent of its viewers being black and only about 40 percent of viewers being white, making it the only top North American sport that doesn't have a white majority audience.[72]

Variations and similar games

Girls play basketball in Dharmsala, India
Schoolgirls shooting hoops among the Himalayas in Dharamsala, India.
Sân trường THPT Phan Đình Phùng, Hà Nội
A basketball training course at the Phan Đình Phùng High School, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Variations of basketball are activities based on the game of basketball, using common basketball skills and equipment (primarily the ball and basket). Some variations are only superficial rules changes, while others are distinct games with varying degrees of basketball influences. Other variations include children's games, contests or activities meant to help players reinforce skills.

There are principal basketball sports with variations on basketball including Wheelchair basketball, Water basketball, Beach basketball, Slamball, Streetball and Unicycle basketball. An earlier version of basketball, played primarily by women and girls, was Six-on-six basketball. Horseball is a game played on horseback where a ball is handled and points are scored by shooting it through a high net (approximately 1.5m×1.5m). The sport is like a combination of polo, rugby, and basketball. There is even a form played on donkeys known as Donkey basketball, but that version has come under attack from animal rights groups.

MECVOLLEYBALL GROUND
A basketball court in Tamil Nadu, India
Half-court
Perhaps the single most common variation of basketball is the half-court game, played in informal settings without referees or strict rules. Only one basket is used, and the ball must be "taken back" or "cleared" – passed or dribbled outside the three-point line each time possession of the ball changes from one team to the other. Half-court games require less cardiovascular stamina, since players need not run back and forth a full court. Half-court raises the number of players that can use a court or, conversely, can be played if there is an insufficient number to form full 5-on-5 teams.
Half-court basketball is usually played 1-on-1, 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. The latter variation is gradually gaining official recognition as 3x3, originally known as FIBA 33. It was first tested at the 2007 Asian Indoor Games in Macau and the first official tournaments were held at the 2009 Asian Youth Games and the 2010 Youth Olympics, both in Singapore. The first FIBA 3x3 Youth World Championships[73] were held in Rimini, Italy in 2011, with the first FIBA 3x3 World Championships for senior teams following a year later in Athens. The sport is highly tipped to become an Olympic sport as early as 2016.[74] In the summer of 2017, the BIG3 basketball league, a professional 3x3 half court basketball league that features former NBA players, began. The BIG3 features several rule variants including a four-point field goal.[75]

There are also other basketball sports, such as:

Wheelchair basketball
Wheelchair basketball, created by disabled World War II veterans,[77] is played on specially designed wheelchairs for the physically impaired. The world governing body of wheelchair basketball is the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation[78] (IWBF), and is a full medal sport in the Summer Paralympic Games.
Water basketball
Water basketball, played in a swimming pool, merges basketball and water polo rules.
Beach basketball
A modified version of basketball, played on beaches, was invented by Philip Bryant.[79] Beach basketball is played in a circular court with no backboard on the goal, no out-of-bounds rule with the ball movement to be done via passes or 21/2 steps, as dribbling is next to impossible on a soft surface.[80]

Beach basketball has grown to a very popular, widespread competitive sport. 15 Annual World Championships have been organized.

Dunk Hoops
Dunk Hoops (a.k.a. Dunk Ball) is a variation of the game of basketball, played on basketball hoops with lowered (under basketball regulation 10 feet) rims. It originated when the popularity of the slam dunk grew and was developed to create better chances for dunks with lowered rims and using altered goaltending rules.
Slamball
Slamball is full-contact basketball, with trampolines. Points are scored by playing the ball through the net, as in basketball, though the point-scoring rules are modified. The main differences from the parent sport is the court; below the padded basketball rim and backboard are four trampolines set into the floor, which serve to propel players to great heights for slam dunks. The rules also permit some physical contact between the members of the four-player teams.
Streetball
Streetball is a less formal variant of basketball, played on playgrounds and in gymnasiums across the world. Often only one half of the court is used, but otherwise the rules of the game are very similar to those of basketball. The number of participants in a game, or a run, may range from one defender and one person on offense (known as one on one) to two full teams of five each. Streetball is a very popular game worldwide, and some cities in the United States have organized streetball programs, such as midnight basketball. Many cities also host their own weekend-long streetball tournaments.
Unicycle Basketball
Unicycle basketball is played using a regulation basketball on a regular basketball court with the same rules, for example, one must dribble the ball while riding. There are a number of rules that are particular to unicycle basketball as well, for example, a player must have at least one foot on a pedal when in-bounding the ball. Unicycle basketball is usually played using 24" or smaller unicycles, and using plastic pedals, both to preserve the court and the players' shins. In North America, popular unicycle basketball games are organized.[81]

Spin-offs from basketball that are now separate sports include:

  • Ringball, a traditional South African sport that stems from basketball, has been played since 1907. The sport is now promoted in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, India, and Mauritius to establish Ringball as an international sport.
  • Korfball (Dutch: Korfbal, korf meaning 'basket') started in the Netherlands and is now played worldwide as a mixed gender team ball game, similar to mixed netball and basketball
  • Netball (formerly known as Women basketball but now played by both males and females), a limited-contact team sport in which two teams of seven try to score points against one another by placing a ball through a high hoop. Australia New Zealand champions (so called ANZ Championship) is very famous in Australia and New Zealand as the premier netball league.

Social forms of basketball

BasketballHoop
Typical privately owned basketball hoop

Basketball has been adopted by various social groups, which have established their own environments and sometimes their own rules. Such socialized forms of basketball include the following.

  • Recreational basketball, where fun, entertainment and camaraderie rule rather than winning a game;
  • Basketball Schools and Academies, where students are trained in developing basketball fundamentals, undergo fitness and endurance exercises and learn various basketball skills. Basketball students learn proper ways of passing, ball handling, dribbling, shooting from various distances, rebounding, offensive moves, defense, layups, screens, basketball rules and basketball ethics. Also popular are the basketball camps organized for various occasions, often to get prepared for basketball events, and basketball clinics for improving skills.
  • College and University basketball played in educational institutions of higher learning.
  • Disabled basketball played by various disabled groups, such as
  • Ethnic and Religion-based basketball: Examples of ethnic basketball include Indo-Pak or Russian or Armenian leagues in the United States or Canada, for example, or Filipino expatriate basketball leagues in the Gulf or the United States. Religion-based basketball includes, most notably, church-related Christian basketball leagues, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu basketball leagues, and so on. or denominational leagues like Coptic, Syriac/Assyrian basketball leagues in the United States or Canada.
  • Gay basketball played in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in gay basketball leagues. The sport of basketball is a major part of events during the Gay Games, World Outgames and EuroGames.
  • Midnight basketball, a basketball initiative to curb inner-city crime in the United States and elsewhere by keeping urban youth off the streets and engaging them with sports alternatives to drugs and crime.
  • Mini basketball played by underage children.
  • Maxi Basketball played by more elderly individuals.
  • Prison basketball, practiced in prisons and penitentiary institutions. Active religious basketball missionary groups also play basketball with prisoners. Some prisons have developed their own prison basketball leagues. At times, non-prisoners may play in such leagues, provided all home and away games are played within prison courts. Film director Jason Moriarty has released a documentary relating to the sport, entitled Prison Ball.
  • Rezball, short for reservation ball, is the avid Native American following of basketball, particularly a style of play particular to Native American teams of some areas.
  • School or High school basketball, the sport of basketball being one of the most frequently exercised and popular sports in all school systems.
  • Show basketball as performed by entertainment basketball show teams, the prime example being the Harlem Globetrotters. There are even specialized entertainment teams, including
    • Celebrity basketball teams made of celebrities (actors, singers, and so on.) playing in their own leagues or in public, often for entertainment and charity events;
    • Midget basketball teams made up of athletes of short stature offering shows using basketball;
    • Slamball offered as entertainment events.

Fantasy basketball

Fantasy basketball was popularized during the 1990s after the advent of the Internet. Those who play this game are sometimes referred to as General Managers, who draft actual NBA players and compute their basketball statistics. The game was popularized by ESPN Fantasy Sports, NBA.com, and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports. Other sports websites provided the same format keeping the game interesting with participants actually owning specific players.

See also

  • Basketball Clipart.svg Basketball portal

Notes

  1. ^ Lapchick began the reports, known previously as the Racial Report Card, while with the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.[64][65]

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General references

Further reading

External links

Historical
Organizations
Other Sources
Allen Iverson

Allen Ezail Iverson (; born June 7, 1975), nicknamed "The Answer", is an American former professional basketball player. He played for fourteen seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at both the shooting guard and point guard positions. Iverson was an eleven-time NBA All-Star, won the All-Star game MVP award in 2001 and 2005, and was the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2001. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Iverson attended Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, and was a dual-sport athlete. He earned the Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both football and basketball, and won the Division AAA Virginia state championship in both sports. After high school, Iverson played college basketball with the Georgetown Hoyas for two years, where he set the school record for career scoring average (22.9 points per game) and won Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards both years.Following two successful years at Georgetown, Iverson declared eligibility for the 1996 NBA draft, and was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first overall pick. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 1996–97 season. Winning the NBA scoring title during the 1998–99, 2000–01, 2001–02, and 2004–05 seasons, Iverson was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, despite his relatively small stature (listed at 6 feet, 0 inches). His regular season career scoring average of 26.7 points per game ranks seventh all-time, and his playoff career scoring average of 29.7 points per game is second only to Michael Jordan. Iverson was also the NBA Most Valuable Player of the 2000–01 season and led his team to the 2001 NBA Finals the same season. Iverson represented the United States at the 2004 Summer Olympics, winning the bronze medal.

Later in his career, Iverson played for the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and the Memphis Grizzlies, before ending his NBA career with the 76ers during the 2009–10 season. He was rated the fifth greatest NBA shooting guard of all time by ESPN in 2008. He finished his career in Turkey with Beşiktaş in 2011. He returned as a player-coach for 3's Company in the inaugural season of the BIG3.

Andrew Bogut

Andrew Michael Bogut (born 28 November 1984) is an Australian professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The 7-foot (2.13 m) center began his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the first overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He earned All-NBA Third Team honors with the Bucks in 2010. He was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 2012, and was named NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2015, when he won an NBA championship with the Warriors.

Bogut played college basketball for two years with the Utah Utes, and earned national player of the year honors in 2005. He declared for the NBA draft, and became the first Australian to be the NBA's first overall pick. In his first year with the Bucks, Bogut was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2006. He earned all-league honors in 2010 after averaging a career-high 15.9 points along with 10.2 rebounds per game. He missed most of 2011–12 with an ankle injury, when he was traded to Golden State. After winning the NBA Finals in 2015, Bogut helped the Warriors win an NBA-record 73 games in 2015–16. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, where he played briefly before other short stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. In 2018, he returned to his home country to play for the Sydney Kings.

Basketball positions

The five basketball positions normally employed by organized basketball teams are the point guard (PG), the shooting guard

(SG), the small forward (SF), the power forward (PF), and the center (C).

Typically the point guard is the leader of the team on the court. This position requires substantial ball handling skills and the ability to facilitate the team during a play. The shooting guard, as the name implies, is often the best shooter. As well as being capable of shooting accurately from longer distances, this position tends to also be the best defender on the team. The small forward often has an aggressive approach to the basket when handling the ball. The small forward is also known to make cuts to the basket in efforts to get open for shots. The power forward and the center are usually called the "frontcourt", often acting as their team's primary rebounders or shot blockers, or receiving passes to take inside shots. The center is typically the larger of the two.

Historically, only three positions were recognized (two guards, two forwards, and one center) based on where they played on the court: Guards generally played outside and away from the hoop and forwards played outside and near the baseline, with the center usually positioned in the key. During the 1980s, as team strategy evolved after the three-pointshot was added to the game. More specialized roles developed, resulting in the five position designations used today. Team strategy and available personnel, however, still dictate the positions used by a particular team. For example, the dribble-drive motion offense and the Princeton offense use four interchangeable guards and one center. This set is also known as a "four-in and one-out" play scheme. Other combinations are also prevalent.

Besides the five basic positions, some teams use non-standard or hybrid positions, such as the point forward, a hybrid small forward/point guard; the swingman, a hybrid small forward/shooting guard; the big, a hybrid power forward/center; and the stretch four, a power forward with the shooting range of typical shooting guards.

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Keith Rodman (born May 13, 1961) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was nicknamed "The Worm" and is famous for his fierce defensive and rebounding abilities.

Rodman played at the small forward position in his early years before becoming a power forward. He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice. He also led the NBA in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years and won five NBA championships. His biography at NBA.com states that he is "arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history". On April 1, 2011, the Pistons retired Rodman's No. 10 jersey, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later that year.Rodman experienced an unhappy childhood and was shy and introverted in his early years. After aborting a suicide attempt in 1993, he reinvented himself as a "bad boy" and became notorious for numerous controversial antics. He repeatedly dyed his hair in artificial colors, had many piercings and tattoos, and regularly disrupted games by clashing with opposing players and officials. He famously wore a wedding dress to promote his 1996 autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be. Rodman pursued a high-profile affair with singer Madonna and was briefly married to actress Carmen Electra. Rodman also attracted international attention for his visits to North Korea and his subsequent befriending of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2013.

In addition to being a retired professional basketball player, Rodman is a retired part-time professional wrestler and actor. He was a member of the nWo and fought alongside Hulk Hogan at two Bash at the Beach events. In professional wrestling, Rodman was the first ever winner of the Celebrity Championship Wrestling tournament. He had his own TV show, The Rodman World Tour, and had lead roles in the action films Double Team (1997) and Simon Sez (1999). Both films were critically panned, with the former earning Rodman a triple Razzie Award. He appeared in several reality TV series and was the winner of the $222,000 main prize of the 2004 edition of Celebrity Mole.

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. ( dwayn; born January 17, 1982) is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After a successful college basketball career with the Marquette Golden Eagles, Wade was drafted fifth overall in the 2003 NBA draft by Miami. In his third season, Wade led the Heat to their first NBA Championship in franchise history and was named the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Wade led the United States men's basketball team, commonly known as the "Redeem Team", in scoring, and helped them capture the gold medal. In the 2008–09 season, Wade led the league in scoring and earned his first NBA scoring title. With LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Wade helped guide Miami to four consecutive NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014, winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. After 1​1⁄2 seasons away from the Heat with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade was traded back to Miami in February 2018. A 13-time NBA All-Star, Wade is Miami's all-time leader in points, games, assists and steals, shots made and shots taken.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; April 16, 1947) is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.After winning 71 consecutive basketball games on his high school team in New York City, Alcindor was recruited by Jerry Norman, the assistant coach of UCLA, where he played for coach John Wooden on three consecutive national championship teams and was a record three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament. Drafted with the first overall pick by the one-season-old Bucks franchise in the 1969 NBA draft, Alcindor spent six seasons in Milwaukee. After leading the Bucks to its first NBA championship at age 24 in 1971, he took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using his trademark "skyhook" shot, he established himself as one of the league's top scorers. In 1975, he was traded to the Lakers, with whom he played the final 14 seasons of his career and won five additional NBA championships. Abdul-Jabbar's contributions were a key component in the "Showtime" era of Lakers basketball. Over his 20-year NBA career, his teams succeeded in making the playoffs 18 times and got past the first round 14 times; his teams reached the NBA Finals on 10 occasions.

At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA's all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657). He remains the all-time leader in points scored and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time, in 2008, they named him the "greatest player in college basketball history", and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan). Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, a basketball coach, and a best-selling author. In 2012, he was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Karl Malone

Karl Anthony Malone (born July 24, 1963) is an American retired professional basketball player. Nicknamed "The Mailman", Malone played the power forward position and spent his first 18 seasons (1985–2003) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Utah Jazz and formed a formidable duo with his teammate John Stockton. Malone also played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Malone was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. His 36,928 career points scored rank second all-time in NBA history (behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and he holds the records for most free throws attempted and made, in addition to co-holding the record for the second-most first team All-NBA selections in history (tied with Kobe Bryant and behind LeBron James). He is considered one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.Malone played college basketball at Louisiana Tech University. In his three seasons with Louisiana Tech, he helped the Bulldogs basketball team to its first-ever NCAA tournament in 1984 and to first place in the Southland Conference in 1985. The Utah Jazz drafted Malone in 1985 with the 13th overall pick in the first round. Malone appeared in the playoffs every season in his career, including the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 with the Jazz. He played his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he played his third Finals in 2004. Malone has the most career postseason losses of any NBA player ever, with 95. Malone also competed with the United States national team in the Summer Olympic Games of 1992 and 1996; in both years he won gold medals. After retiring from the NBA, Malone joined the staff of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs basketball team in 2007 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 (twice – for his individual career, and as a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team).

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) is an American former professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships with the Lakers. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He led the NBA in scoring during two seasons and ranks third on the league's all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.

The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. He declared for the NBA draft upon graduation and was selected in the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded him to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud between them, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in Colorado, but the charges were eventually dropped, and a civil suit was settled out of court. After the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers, and he led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962. Bryant was awarded the regular season's Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in 2008. After losing in the 2008 NBA Finals, he led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, earning the Finals MVP Award on both occasions. He continued to be among the top players in the league through 2013 until he suffered a torn Achilles tendon at age 34. Although he recovered, his play was limited the following two years by season-ending injuries to his knee and shoulder, respectively. Citing his physical decline, he announced that he would retire after the 2015–16 season.

At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010, when he surpassed Jerry West. During his third year in the league, Bryant was chosen to start the All-Star Game, and he would continue to be selected to start that game for a record 18 consecutive appearances until his retirement. His four All-Star MVP Awards are tied for the most in NBA history. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team. In 2018, Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball.

Larry Bird

Larry Joe Bird (born December 7, 1956) is an American former professional basketball player, former coach, and former executive who most recently served as President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed "The Hick from French Lick," Bird has been described as one of the greatest basketball players and greatest shooters of all time.

Drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, Bird started at small forward and power forward for the Celtics for 13 seasons. Bird was a 12-time NBA All-Star and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986). He played his entire professional career for Boston, winning three NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards. Bird was also a member of the gold-medal-winning 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team known as "The Dream Team". He was voted to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame again in 2010 as a member of "The Dream Team".

After retiring as a player, Bird served as head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2000. He was named NBA Coach of the Year for the 1997-1998 season and later led the Pacers to a berth in the 2000 NBA Finals. In 2003, Bird was named President of Basketball Operations for the Pacers, holding the position until retiring in 2012. He was named NBA Executive of the Year for the 2012 season. Bird returned to the Pacers as President of Basketball Operations in 2013 and remained in that role until 2017.

As of 2012, Bird is the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Regular Season MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

LeBron James

LeBron Raymone James Sr. (; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is often considered the best basketball player in the world and regarded by some as the greatest player of all time. His accomplishments include four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. James has appeared in fifteen NBA All-Star Games and been named NBA All-Star MVP three times. He won the 2008 NBA scoring title, is the all-time NBA playoffs scoring leader, and is fourth in all-time career points scored. He has been voted onto the All-NBA First Team twelve times and the All-Defensive First Team five times.

James played high school basketball for St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was heavily touted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. A prep-to-pro, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 as the first overall draft pick. The 2003–04 NBA Rookie of the Year, he soon established himself as one of the league's premier players; he won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2009 and 2010. After failing to win a championship with Cleveland, James left in 2010 to sign as a free agent with the Miami Heat. This move was announced in an ESPN special titled The Decision, and is one of the most controversial free agent decisions in American sports history.

In Miami, James won his first NBA championship in 2012, and followed that with another title a year later. He was named league MVP and NBA Finals MVP in both championship years. In 2014, after four seasons with Miami, James opted out of his contract to re-sign with the Cavaliers. In 2016, he led the Cavaliers to victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, delivering the team's first championship and ending Cleveland's 52-year professional sports title drought. In 2018, James opted out of his Cleveland contract to sign with the Lakers.

Off the court, James has accumulated considerable wealth and fame from numerous endorsement contracts. His public life has been the subject of much scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America's most influential and popular athletes. He has been featured in books, documentaries, and television commercials. He has also hosted the ESPY Awards and Saturday Night Live, and appeared in the 2015 film Trainwreck.

List of NBA champions

The National Basketball Association (NBA) (formerly Basketball Association of America (BAA) from 1946 to 1949) Finals is the championship series for the NBA and the conclusion of the NBA's postseason. All Finals have been played in a best-of-seven format, and contested between the winners of the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference (formerly Divisions before 1970), except in 1950 in which the Eastern Division champion faced the winner between the Western and Central Division champions. Prior to 1949, the playoffs were instituted a three-stage tournament where the two semifinal winners played each other in the finals. The winning team of the series receives the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

The home-and-away format in the NBA Finals is in a 2–2–1–1–1 format (the team with the better regular season record plays on their home court in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7) during 1947–1948, 1950–1952, 1957–1970, 1972–1974, 1976–1977, 1979–1984, 2014–present. It was previously in a 2–3–2 format (the team with the better regular season record plays on their home court in Games 1, 2, 6 and 7) during 1949, 1953–1955, and 1985–2013, in a 1–1–1–1–1–1–1 format during 1956 and 1971 and in a 1–2–2–1–1 format during 1975 and 1978.The Eastern Conference/Division leads the Western Conference/Division in series won (38–32). The defunct Central Division won one championship. The Boston Celtics and the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers alone own almost half of the titles, having won a combined 33 of 72 championships.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Lakers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference in the Pacific Division. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, an arena shared with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA, and have won 16 NBA championships, the second-most behind the Boston Celtics.

The franchise began with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League (NBL). The new team began playing in Minneapolis, calling themselves the Minneapolis Lakers. Initially a member of the NBL, the Lakers won the 1948 NBL championship before joining the rival Basketball Association of America, where they would win five of the next six championships, led by star George Mikan. After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan's retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season.

Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost each series to the Celtics, beginning their long and storied rivalry. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Wilt Chamberlain, and won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972, led by new head coach Bill Sharman. After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also won multiple MVP awards, but was unable to make the Finals in the late 1970s.

The 1980s Lakers were nicknamed "Showtime" due to their fast break-offense led by Magic Johnson. The team won five championships in a nine-year span, and contained Hall of Famers Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, and was led by Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson retired, the team struggled in the early 1990s, before acquiring Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. With the duo, who were led by another Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, the team won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002, securing the franchise its second "three-peat". The Lakers won two more championships in 2009 and 2010, but failed to regain their former glory in the following decade.

The Lakers hold the record for NBA's longest winning streak, 33 straight games, set during the 1971–72 season. 21 Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, O'Neal, and Bryant—have won the NBA MVP Award for a total of eight awards.

Magic Johnson

Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is an American retired professional basketball player and current president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.

Johnson's career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA's all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. Johnson was a member of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"), which won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. After leaving the NBA in 1992, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson All-Stars, a barnstorming team that travelled around the world playing exhibition games. Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

Johnson became a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame—being enshrined in 2002 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team". He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007. His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, are well documented.

Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, as well as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. His public announcement of his HIV-positive status in 1991 helped dispel the stereotype, still widely held at the time, that HIV was a "gay disease" that heterosexuals need not worry about; his bravery in making this announcement was widely commended. Named by Ebony magazine as one of America's most influential black businessmen in 2009, Johnson has numerous business interests, and was a part-owner of the Lakers for several years. Johnson also is part of a group of investors that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials, MJ, is an American former professional basketball player. He played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. His biography on the official NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. He is currently the principal owner and chairman of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan played three seasons for coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. As a freshman, he was a member of the Tar Heels' national championship team in 1982. Jordan joined the Bulls in 1984 as the third overall draft pick. He quickly emerged as a league star and entertained crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, demonstrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames Air Jordan and His Airness. He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat". Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball before the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season, and started a new career in Minor League Baseball, he returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and led them to three additional championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as a then-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in January 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten scoring titles (both all-time records), five MVP Awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP Awards, three steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press' list of athletes of the century. Jordan is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, having been enshrined in 2009 for his individual career, and again in 2010 as part of the group induction of the 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team ("The Dream Team"). He became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.

Jordan is also known for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike's Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1984 and remain popular today. Jordan also starred as himself in the 1996 film Space Jam. In 2006, he became part-owner and head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets), and bought a controlling interest in 2010. In 2014, Jordan became the first billionaire player in NBA history. He is the third-richest African-American, behind Robert F. Smith and Oprah Winfrey.

NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, also known and branded as NCAA March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), to determine the national championship. The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State coach Harold Olsen. Played mostly during March, it has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.The tournament teams include champions from 32 Division I conferences (which receive automatic bids), and 36 teams which are awarded at-large berths. These "at-large" teams are chosen by an NCAA selection committee, then announced in a nationally televised event on the Sunday preceding the "First Four" play-in games, currently held in Dayton, Ohio, and dubbed Selection Sunday. The 68 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single-elimination "bracket", which pre-determines, when a team wins a game, which team it will face next. Each team is "seeded", or ranked, within its region from 1 to 16. After the First Four, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends, at pre-selected neutral sites across the United States. Teams, seeded by rank, proceed through a single-game elimination bracket beginning with a "first four" consisting of 8 low-seeded teams playing in 4 games for a position in the first round the Tuesday and Wednesday before the first round begins, a first round consisting of 64 teams playing in 32 games over the course of a week, the "Sweet Sixteen" and "Elite Eight" rounds the next week and weekend, respectively, and – for the last weekend of the tournament – the "Final Four" round. The Final Four is usually played during the first weekend of April. These four teams, one from each region (East, South, Midwest, and West), compete in a preselected location for the national championship.

The tournament has been at least partially televised since 1969. Currently, the games are broadcast by CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV under the trade-name NCAA March Madness. Since 2011, all games are available for viewing nationwide and internationally. As television coverage has grown, so too has the tournament's popularity. Currently, millions of Americans fill out a bracket, attempting to correctly predict the outcome of 63 games of the tournament (not including the First Four games).

With 11 national titles, UCLA has the record for the most NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships; John Wooden coached UCLA to 10 of its 11 titles. The University of Kentucky (UK) is second, with eight national titles. The University of North Carolina is third, with six national titles, and Duke University and Indiana University are tied for fourth with five national titles. The University of Connecticut is sixth with four national titles. The University of Kansas (KU) & Villanova are tied for 7th with three national titles. Since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, Duke has won five championships; North Carolina and Connecticut have each won four; Kentucky & Villanova have three; Kansas & Florida have two; and UCLA, Indiana, Michigan State, and Louisville have one. During that time Villanova, Michigan, UNLV, Duke, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Syracuse, and Florida all won their first championships.

National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America; composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada). It is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world. The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA (also known as the International Basketball Federation) as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league adopted the name National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL). The league's several international as well as individual team offices are directed out of its head offices located in the Olympic Tower at 645 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. NBA Entertainment and NBA TV studios are directed out of offices located in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille Rashaun "Shaq" O'Neal ( shə-KEEL) (born March 6, 1972) ( SHAK), is an American retired professional basketball player who is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA on TNT. He is widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). At 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and 325 pounds (147 kg), he was one of the tallest and heaviest players in the history of the NBA. O'Neal played for six teams throughout his 19-year career.

Following his time at Louisiana State University, O'Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O'Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. They won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Amid tension between O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and his fourth NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O'Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 15th in rebounds, and 8th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O'Neal also ranks third all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%). O'Neal was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017.In addition to his basketball career, O'Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, Shaq Diesel, going platinum. He has appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows, Shaq's Big Challenge and Shaq Vs.. He hosts The Big Podcast with Shaq. He is also the general manager of Kings Guard Gaming of the NBA 2K League.

Stephen Curry

Wardell Stephen Curry II ( STEF-ən; born March 14, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A six-time NBA All-Star, he has been named the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice and won three NBA championships with the Warriors. Many players and analysts have called him the greatest shooter in NBA history. He is credited with revolutionizing the game of basketball by inspiring teams to regularly employ the three-point shot as part of their winning strategy.In 2014–15, Curry won his first MVP award and led the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. The following season, he became the first player in NBA history to be elected MVP by a unanimous vote and to lead the league in scoring while shooting above 50–40–90. That same year, the Warriors broke the record for the most wins in an NBA season en route to reaching the 2016 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry helped the Warriors return to the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018, where they won back-to-back titles.

Curry is the son of former NBA player Dell Curry and older brother of current NBA player Seth Curry. He played college basketball for Davidson. There, he was twice named Southern Conference Player of the Year and set the all-time scoring record for both Davidson and the Southern Conference. During his sophomore year, he also set the single-season NCAA record for three-pointers made.

During the 2012–13 season, Curry set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a regular season with 272. He surpassed that record in 2015 with 286, and again in 2016 with 402. Curry is currently third in all-time made three-pointers in NBA history. The 2012–13 season saw Curry and teammate Klay Thompson earn the nickname of the Splash Brothers, with the pair going on to set the NBA record for combined three-pointers in a season with 484 in 2013–14, a record they broke the following season (525) and again in the 2015–16 season (678).

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilton Norman Chamberlain (; August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American basketball player who played as a center and is considered one of the greatest players in history. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played for the University of Kansas and also for the Harlem Globetrotters before playing in the NBA. Chamberlain stood 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall, and weighed 250 pounds (110 kg) as a rookie before bulking up to 275 and eventually to over 300 pounds (140 kg) with the Lakers.

Chamberlain holds numerous NBA records in scoring, rebounding, and durability categories. He is the only player to score 100 points in a single NBA game or average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. He won seven scoring, eleven rebounding, nine field goal percentage titles and led the league in assists once. Chamberlain is the only player in NBA history to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a season, which he accomplished seven times. He is also the only player to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game over the entire course of his NBA career. Although he suffered a long string of losses in the playoffs, Chamberlain had a successful career, winning two NBA championships, earning four regular-season Most Valuable Player awards, the Rookie of the Year award, one NBA Finals MVP award, and was selected to 13 All-Star Games and ten All-NBA First and Second teams. He was subsequently enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, elected into the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team of 1980, and in 1996 he was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.Chamberlain was known by several nicknames during his basketball playing career. He hated the ones that called attention to his height, such as "Goliath" and "Wilt the Stilt". A Philadelphia sportswriter coined the nicknames during Chamberlain's high school days. He preferred "The Big Dipper", which was inspired by his friends who saw him dip his head as he walked through doorways. After his professional basketball career ended, Chamberlain played volleyball in the short-lived International Volleyball Association, was president of that organization, and is enshrined in the IVA Hall of Fame for his contributions. He was a successful businessman, authored several books, and appeared in the movie Conan the Destroyer. He was a lifelong bachelor and became notorious for his claim of having had sexual relations with as many as 20,000 women.

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