The Changing Face of BasketballBasketball has come a long way since its soccer ball and peach basket beginningsin that its style, players, facilities and leagues have developed dramaticallyand gained tremendous popularity. Salaries have increased from Bob Cousy’sminute $45.
00 a game (Minser 37) to Michael Jordan’s $300,000 + per game(Minser 37). Basketball is a sport in which all ages can participate in any way,shape, or form and is a big part of American society today. In 1891 James A. Naismith invented basketball at a YMCA gymnasium in Springfield, Massachusetts(Hollander 4). He told a custodian to nail two peach baskets 10 feet high onopposite ends of the gymnasium walls. The first teams consisted of nine playerson each side (this was later changed to five because of roughness) (Hollander 5-7).
The main rules were one could not take more than two steps with the ball,which meant one would have to dribble it and it was not to be a contact sport,so one was not allowed to tackle or push, etc. . . or a foul would be called.
Therules have developed in that a shot clock was installed. The shot clock is a 24second clock that a team had to shoot within that time period (Minsky 12). Basketball has developed in that players have become more flashy, facilitieshave become bigger and more complex, and leagues have grown. The 50’s marked aperiod of fundamentals. Teams practiced shooting, dribbling, and passing. theyalso emphasized execution; something lacking in today’s game.
Execution is therunning of plays to perfection. Basketball in the 50’s was dominated by 6’10″George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers (Minsky 14). Mikan was a disciplined teamleader who had a masterful soft shot. Big George led the Lakers to five NationalBasketball Association (NBA) championships in six years, making them the firstprofessional basketball dynasty (Minsky 14).
Growing up, George was veryuncoordinated and was cut from almost every basketball team he tried out for;however, a man named Ray Meyer was the coach of DePaul University and dedicatedhis training sessions to Mikan (Minsky 15-16). George worked very hard; he eventook dance lessons to improve his agility and footwork. He also played one – on- one with shorter but faster players in order to improve his defensivepositioning. He also jumped rope, played hours of catch with tennis and medicineballs, and practiced 250 hook shots daily with each hand (Minsky 16). Mikanbecame an immediate force for DePaul, leading them to a 1945 NationalInvitational Tournament crown, scoring in one game an amazing 53 points.
HeGraduated DePaul in 1946 as a three time All American, and was the biggestbasketball star up to that time (Minsky 16). there were only a few centers thatwould ever classify as great, but George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain,and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar head that list. George’s build, Russell’s defense,Chamberlain’s style, and Abdul-Jabbar’s grace all set these guys apart from therest of the basketball world. Like Mikan, Russell was the typical hard-workingteam player. Russell was one of the best rebounders, if not the best, ever toplay basketball.
Out of all the centers ever to play the game, Russell had themost success. He led his Boston Celtic team to 11 NBA titles (eight in a row) in13 years; an all time NBA record (Minsky 26). Russell’s Celtic team was one ofthe best ever judging by statistics. However, there was no one Bill Russellfeared more than Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain (Minsky 26). Russell , being thebest defensive center in the league, prided himself on being able to guard thebest offensive center in the league: Chamberlain. Russell verses Chamberlainwill go down in history as one of the best matchups in the history of the sport.
Throughout the ten years the opposing centers played, they met 162 times (Minsky30). In those games, Chamberlain’s points were down and rebounds were up andvisa versa for Russell (Minsky 30). last, but definitely not least, was KareemAbdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar, unlike Mikan, was predicted and destined to be great. At 7’2″ and with the body of a sprinter, Abdul-Jabbar was expected to reachunrealistic standards, which he usually met all of his life. When he enteredcollege, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made a rule tooutlaw dunking so he couldn’t score at will (Minsky 57).
That forced him todevelop his virtually unstoppable shot . . . the Skyhook.
He used the Skyhook tolead the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to three straight NCAAtitles and the Los Angeles Lakers to six NBA titles in 20 years. He alsoshattered Wilt Chamberlain’s all time scoring record, won the league’s MostValuable Player award a record six times and played on the All Star team 19times (Minsky 58). Just like the evolution of the centers, all the positions changed like guards,shooting guards, and power forwards. Bob Cousy was the first showman of the NBAand many followed his act until it became normal procedure among players. It isalmost painful to think of the tempo of the game before Bob Cousy arrived. Headded a flair to the game never seen before.
Soon, his style was transformed byOscar Robertson, then by “Pistol Pete” Maravitch, “Magic” Johnson, and finallyIsiah Thomas. Bob Petit was the first great power forward, using every pound andevery inch the opponent allowed. What Petit lacked in style, he doubled inpower. . Rick Barry dramatically changed the power forward position with a dead-eye shot and an unorthodox free throw.
Today we have the dazzling dunks of KarlMalone and Shawn Kemp. Perhaps the most revolutionized of all positions is theshooting guard. It all started with Elgin Baylor’s midair tactics and his greatjump shot. Then the torch passed to Jerry “Mr. Clutch” West (Minsky 37) whoseuncanny ability to shoot was never again matched from this position. Early on,dunking was not used for style, it was just a way to get two points for the team- until Julius “Dr.
J” Irving came along. “Dr. J” was 6’7″ (Minsky 64), had hugebut delicate hands, and excellent vertical and body control. Irving’s highflying dunks electrified crowds, even from the opposing teams. “Dr.
J” changedwhat was just two points into a massive rush of adrenaline. He did not have agreat outside shot but he could hang in the air with the best of them. The condition of Basketball games was not the best from the 1950’s and 1960’sdue to the lack of knowledge regarding how to keep the wooden basketball floorin top form. Today there are Million dollar arenas with sponsors ranging fromNike to Xerox.
Some of the older players would probably say that players todayare spoiled in many ways because the former players did not have the break-awayrims or fiberglass backboards. the balls are also made of a synthetic leathercausing them to be more responsive in the dribble. The first professionalbasketball league formed was the National League and it consisted of six teams. When the National League folded, the Philadelphia League was formed.
The EasternLeague, Central League, Hudson River League, and the New York State League soonfollowed (Hollander 17). The American Basketball League was formed in 1925 buthad only short success. The New York Renaissance Five was the first Black team,followed by the Harlem Globetrotters. The National Basketball League was startedin 1937 and lasted about 10 years(Hollandar 21-28). The NBA was developed in1946 and was a success because of its big market arenas like Madison SquareGarden in New York City.
The Basketball Association of America (BAA) consistedof 11 members who scheduled games and found places for teams to play. The BAAmerged with the NBA in the late 40’s. Now teams have their own arenas, enormouscrown support, and plenty of luxuries (Hollander 60-69). Original salaries weremicroscopic compared to salaries today, especially when compared to otherprofessionals. Basketball today is being sold to the public more than any othersport.
Corporate sponsors have lured players with million dollar offers. It isamazing at the difference between the salaries of basketball players andprofessionals such as teachers, nurses, social workers , and even what we payour clergy. The public wants to be entertained, and will pay for it, but failsto give adequate payment to professionals who affect our daily lives. The styleof play, players, facilities, and leagues have developed dramatically and gainedtremendous popularity since its soccer ball and peach basket beginnings. Thesis Statement: Basketball has come a long way since its soccer ball and peachbasket beginnings in that its style, players, facilities and leagues havedevoloped dramatically and gained tremendous popularity.
I. HistoryA. WhatB. WhenC.
Basic rulesII. DevelopmentA. First great playersB. FacilitiesC. LeaguesIII.
SalariesA. OriginalB. Salaries nowC. Salaries compared to other professions