James came up with 13 original rules for his game of basket ball. Some of these have changed since his teams first started playing the game.
1. Original rule: Players may throw the ball in any direction using one or both hands.
Now: That's still true, but once the offensive team brings the ball past half-court, the ball cannot be passed into the backcourt.
2. Original rule: Players may touch the ball to make it go in any direction, but may not use fists.
Now: Still true, but the fist rule has been relaxed. Touch passes do not involve using the fist and even blocked shots seldom involve a fist.
3. Original rule: Players cannot run with the ball. When you catch the ball, you must stop and throw the ball from that spot. You are allowed a few steps to slow down if you are running when you catch the ball.
Now: Players cannot hold the ball and run with it, but they are allowed to dribble it up and down the court. A player who holds on to the ball while he runs is called for traveling and the ball is turned over to the other team. However, if a player is streaking toward the basket, catches the ball at a dead run, and only has a step or two until he shoots it, he can usually get away without dribbling it, though many purists say this should not be allowed.
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James's students used a soccer ball for the first basketball games. To grip the ball better, they would rub coal dust on their hands.
4. Original rule: Players must hold the ball with their hands; the arms and body cannot be used to hold the ball.
Now: The ball can only be held in the hands or the arms.
5. Original rule: Players are not allowed to shoulder, hold, push, trip, or hit each other. The first time a player is called for illegal behavior, it counts as a foul. The second time, the player cannot play until the next basket is scored. If a player meant to injure an opponent, he is ejected from the game and no one is allowed to take his place on the court.
Now: The penalties have changed. Five or six fouls are required to foul out. An intentional or flagrant foul can cause a player to be ejected from the game, though he can be replaced on the floor.
6. Original rule: Striking the ball with a fist or breaking rules 3, 4, or 5 counts as a foul.
Now: Players can do touch passes and be creative with passes.
7. Original rule: If one side racks up three fouls in a row, the other team is awarded a basket.
Now: This is no longer the case. If a team commits a certain number of fouls, their opponent gets to shoot free throws for each subsequent foul.
8. Original rule: A goal is made when the ball is thrown into the basket and stays there. If an opponent moves the basket to prevent a ball from going in, it counts as a goal.
Now: The original basket did not have a hole in it, which is why James wrote that the ball had to stay in the basket to count as a goal. This obviously isn't the case anymore. A goal — now called a basket — is when the ball goes through the net. James's original rule does cover what came to be known as goaltending, meaning the ball cannot be touched when it is on the rim and headed into the basket.
While James brought the game of basketball into existence, he remains the only basketball coach ever at the University of Kansas to have a losing career record. He stepped down with a career mark of 55-60.
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When you are guarding the player who is passing the ball inbounds, have your hands up and watch her eyes — not the ball — so you can see where she is looking to pass the ball. This way, you can try to block that area or deflect the ball.
9. Original rule: A ball that goes out of bounds can be thrown back onto the court by the player who touches it first. If two players get to the ball at the same time, the umpire throws the ball back onto the court. A player has five seconds to throw the ball; if she goes over, the other team gets the ball. A foul is called if either side delays the game.
Now: Instead of letting everyone scramble for the ball, the current rule states that the team that touched the ball last before it went out of bounds loses possession of the ball. The five-second rule is still in effect. All in-bounds passes must be made within five seconds or the other team gets the ball out of bounds. Also, whenever a player has the ball on the court, he must pass, shoot, or dribble the ball within five seconds or the ball is turned over to the other team.
10. Original rule: The umpire calls fouls and keeps track of how many fouls have been made. He can throw players out of the game according to Rule 5.
Now: Most levels of basketball have two or even three referees, and it takes five or six fouls for a player to foul out of a game. The officials do still have the power to eject a player from the game for a flagrant foul.
11. Original rule: The referee is in charge of deciding the following areas: when the ball is in play, whether it is in bounds, which side has possession, whether a basket has been made. The referee is also in charge of the game clock and keeping score.
Now: Referees and officials still keep track of all of this. There are officials whose entire job is to keep track of the time and the score of the game, so the referees on the floor can concentrate on other things.
12. Original rule: The game is made up of two 15-minute halves with a five-minute halftime.
Now: The college game has halves and the NBA has quarters. The length of the game varies depending on the level of the game — YMCA, college, professional, or another level. The NBA has four 12-minute quarters and college has two 20-minute halves.
Basketball became a medal event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. James was there to hand out the first basketball gold medal — to the United States. He also presented the silver medal to his native Canada and the bronze to Mexico.
13. Original rule: The team that makes the most goals wins the game. If the game ends in a tie, the team captains can decide whether to continue the game until another goal is made.
Now: The team with the most points wins. There is no sudden-death overtime where the team that shoots the first basket wins. Instead, teams play an overtime period, and the team with the most points at the end of overtime wins.
Some people think 13 is an unlucky number, but it wasn't for James Naismith. His 13 rules worked very well for him. Here are some other things that are considered unlucky. Can you spot all 5?