By:Dana, Kahrin, and NickAncient Basketball

Most people say basketball was created in December of 1891, but we are going to take a look back at the version of “basketball” that the Aztecs played.
Ollamalitzli (Tlachtli)
Ollamalitzli (Tlachtli) means “ballgame”, and is the Aztec version of basketball. It was the most important game of the ancient Aztec games played. The object of the game was to put a rubber ball through a hoop made of stone at the end of the court. A score of one point would win the game, saying that it was very difficult to get the ball through the hoop. The winning team would get to take the clothes and jewelry right off the spectator’s backs. In some versions of the game played the losing team’s captain’s head would be cut off, while in other versions, the whole team would be sacrificed to the gods. The stone holes were eight to ten feet off the ground, and were 30 centimeters wide. The ball they played with was around the size of a blowing ball, weighed about five pounds, and was made of natural rubber.
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The Playing fields had a wider part at each end, and a stone wall surrounding the whole field.
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The fields were very often built near temples. Playing the game was said to honor the Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli. Some priests thought that the movement of the ball was symbolized the movement of the sun.
Aztec War God
Aztec War God

Some versions of the game were played with no rules, while other versions of the game were played with one rule-you can’t use your hands. Just imagine how hard it would be to get a five pound rubber ball into a very small hoop about ten feet high, without your hands. The version of the game played with no rules was very brutal, the players could do whatever they wanted to their opponents, tripping, pulling hair, punching, and gouging.
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There would be a home team (Aztecs), and then the opposing team would be made up of prisoners of the Aztecs. The home team would almost always win. This relates to Gladiator, a game the Romans would play around 180 AD. Tlachtli was not only important for entertainment, but it was also important for politics and religion.

Historical U.S Basketball

Basketball was invented or founded by a man named James Naismith in December 1891 at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. This activity kept men occupied and in physical condition through the winter season when they couldn’t go outside and play. The hoops were made of a peach basket nailed to a 10 foot elevator track. (As shown below)

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Men’s basketball wasn’t the only thing around though. Women’s basketball came shortly after. In 1892, at Smith College, women’s basketball started. Naismith came up with most of the main rules for the game, but they were modified soon after. The first official game of organized basketball was played on January 20, 1892 with only 9 players! The court they played on was only half the size of an NBA court. By 1896, basketball was established in many women’s colleges. In 1895, the backboard was introduced to prevent fans from interfering with the game. The hoops were usually hung from balconies. In 1898, the first professional league was started. It was called the Nation Basketball Association. It was formed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. By 1908, the dribbler was finally allowed to shoot the ball. Also, the NCAA stopped double dribbling.
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Another rule that was established was that players were allowed to reenter the game as substitutions. In 1925, the ABL was founded as the first league to sign contracts for players. By 1930, the professional leagues destroy the double dribble. As of 1931, the American Basketball League was no longer in tact. Something that is very odd is that after each point scored the teams would have a jump ball at center court. This was soon changed in the year of 1937. In that same year, the NBA was officially formed with teams called the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Sacramento Kings.
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By 1946, the Basketball Associations of America was formed with teams named of New York Knickerbockers, Boston Celtics, and Golden State Warriors. Many things have changed over the years with this sport. There maybe there are more modifications to come. Basketball was a favorite then and still is today.

James Naismith
James Naismith