James Naismith, Lawrence
Naismith moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1898, following his studies in Denver, to serve as a professor, and the University of Kansas' first basketball coach. KU went on to develop one of the nation's most storied college basketball programs. Photo courtesy of Kansas Athletics
James Naismith in his younger years. Photo courtesy Kansas Athletics
1651 Naismith Drive, Lawrence, KS 66044
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James Naismith was the man who invented basketball in 1891 and started the University of Kansas basketball program in 1898. 1861-1939.
|James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Photo courtesy Kansas Athletics|
He was challenged to find a sport that could be played inside during the Massachusetts winter. He wanted something that required more skill than strength. He remembered a children's game he had played, duck-on-a-rock, and with that inspiration invented basketball.
The first game, in 1891, was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets as goals. Two years later James Naismith replaced the peach basket with iron hoops and a hammock-style basket. Ten years later came the open-ended nets. The first-ever college basketball game was played on January 18, 1896, when the University of Iowa invited student-athletes from the new University of Chicago for an experimental game. Final score: Chicago 15, Iowa 12.
From Springfield, Naismith went to Denver where he acquired a medical degree and in 1898 he joined the Kansas University faculty at Lawrence. That year he started the University of Kansas men's basketball program, six years after writing the sport's first official rules. The original rules did not include what is known today as the dribble, and only allowed the ball to be moved up or down the court via passes between players. He was hired because he had the qualifications to serve the university as a physical education professor and as a chaplain. Ironically, Naismith was the only coach in the program's storied history to have a losing record (55-60). However, he coached Forrest "Phog" Allen, his successor at Kansas and the man who became known as the "Father of Basketball Coaching."
|Naismith with women's basket ball team. Photo courtesy Kansas Athletics|
Naismith remained in Lawrence until his death in 1939.
Sources: www.kshs.org/portraits/naismith_james.htm; inventors.about.com/od/inventorsalphabet/a/James_Naismith.htm; www.kansasheritage.org/people/naismith.html; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Naismith.
POINTS OF INTEREST ABOUT JAMES NAISMITH IN KANSAS
- Gravestone memorial, East 15th. Naismith is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery. A bronze statue is a fitting memorial.
- Booth Family Hall of Athletics, in Allen Fieldhouse, 1651 Naismith Drive. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (varies on game days).
- Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts. Display about Naismith. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Thursday until 8 p.m.
- Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Wichita Boathouse, 515 S. Wichita. James Naismith was a 1961 inductee into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
978 Arapaho Rd. Inman, KS 67546