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game that started with 18 men in a YMCA gymnasium in Springfield, Mass., has grown into a game that more than 300 million people play worldwide. The man who created this instantly successful sport was Dr. James Naismith.

Under instructions from the head of Physical Education at the School for Christian Workers, Naismith was given 2 weeks to invent an indoor game that would provide an "athletic distraction" for a rowdy class through the brutal New England winter. His creation didn't come easily. His first intention was to bring outdoor games indoors such as soccer and lacrosse. These games proved to be too physical and cumbersome.

After brainstorming some new ideas, Naismith developed basketball's original 13 rules and consequently, the game of basketball. The new indoor game was played with a soccer ball, peach baskets and nine to a side. This first contest is believed to have been played Dec. 21, 1891.


The 13 original rules.

1. The ball can be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball can be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist.
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it.
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands. The arms or body must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, striking or tripping an opponent.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist.
7. If a side makes three consecutive fouls it counts a goal for the opponents.
8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it.
10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made.
11. The referee shall be the judge of the ball and decide when it is in play in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time.
12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves with a five minute rest between.
13.The side scoring the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner.

In the history of basketball, the highest-rated college basketball game seen on U.S. television was the 1979 NCAA tournament championship game - Michigan State vs. Indiana State final that featured Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. This was one of the best-rated basketball games in basketball history.