15 James Naismith’s Facts You Should Know

15 Interesting James Naismith's Facts You Should Know

Looking for some interesting James Naismith Facts?

If you’re a fan of basketball and sports in general, it certainly would be in your best interest to know more about James Naismith. He is the man who brought about the game of basketball.

In this article, we would be taking a look into the basketball inventor’s life and some facts about him you probably didn’t know.

Basketball inventor, Dr. James Naismith
Dr. James Naismith with a basketball and a basket. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

RELATED: James Naismith’s 13 Original Rules Of Basketball

Some Interesting James Naismith Facts You Should Know

James Naismith Facts: Early Life

1. He was from Canada

James Naismith was born on the 6th of November 1861, in a town called Almonte in Ontario, Canada.

He did not move to the United States until he was 30 years old when he took a job as a Physical Education Instructor.

2. He was an orphan

He lost his parents at a tender age, so he had to go live with his aunt and uncle on a farm at Almonte, where he stayed for many years.

3. He never had a middle name

Though some people add an ‘A’ initial in between his first name and last name, Naismith never had a middle name. Neither did he sign his name with an ‘A’ initial.

The letter was added by someone who was part of the admin department when he started working at the University of Kansas.

4. He struggled with school

Yes, Naismith was a genius who had a BA in Physical Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine.

So it may seem like he had a smooth sail with straight A’s from grad school to college. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

While growing up, he enjoyed farm work and was very good at it, and preferred playing ‘catch’ and ‘duck on the rock’ (a game which later became instrumental to his invention of basketball) to studying back then.

5. He was a college athlete

From his very first year in college at the Mc Gill University of Montreal, Canada, Naismith proved to be a really versatile athlete.

He had exceptional talents and was on the school’s football team, soccer team, rugby team, lacrosse team, and gymnastics team.

He made his first ear paddings for his personal use while playing football as a center and won several medals for his incredibly outstanding performances in gymnastics. 

James Naismith Facts: Basket ball Invention

6. Basketball was meant to be a distraction

Yes, you heard, right. This beautiful game we love so much was supposed to be an athletic distraction to keep the students indoors from the harsh elements of New England’s winter.

To keep his rowdy young charges indoors, Naismith was tasked with creating a game.

After studying the characteristics of all the major sports at that time and using two peach baskets and a soccer ball, he created a game and called it “Basket Ball.”

7. The first basket ball game was bloody

The First Basketball Court - Springfield College
The First Basketball Court – Springfield College. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While he was working on his newfound game, he was also self-conscious of injuries and wanted to reduce the risk of getting injured to the barest minimum.

So he placed the baskets ten feet high to make the post unguardable.

After introducing the game to the students and telling them what they had to do to score points, he blew a whistle, and the first game of basketball began.

In the spirit of competition, the players started punching, tackling, and kicking.

By the end of the game, there were more than a few black eyes; a student ended up unconscious, and another ended up with a separated shoulder.

8. 13 rules of basket ball

After the disaster that was the very first match of the game of basket ball, Naismith had to work on the rules and came up with the 13 Rules of Basket Ball.

The original copy of the rules that was typed by his secretary was bought in an auction by David Booth for $4.34 million.

Booth is a graduate of Kansas University, and he really wanted the original copy of Naismith’s 13 laws to be in the same city where Naismith was buried.

9. People wanted the game to be called Naismith’s ball

Just a few months after the first set of basket ball games were played, the game was already spreading like wildfire.

The game, along with photos of the 13 Rules, was published in the YMCA magazine, which helped to spread the game even more.

With more and more people enjoying the game of basket ball, they wanted to honor its inventor by naming it ‘Naismith’s Ball,’ but Naismith vehemently refused.

10. He was the first college basketball coach

When Naismith moved to the University of Kansas, about six years after the Invention of basket ball, the university immediately began an official basketball program for college athletes, and Naismith was made coach.

However, though he was the inventor of the game, Naismith had the worst record as a basketball coach in the program with (55-60).

11. He invented the football helmet

The name Naismith is synonymous with basketball and will always be celebrated among the basketball community, probably till the end of time.

But he also made a massive contribution towards football when he invented the football helmet.

12. He preferred other sports

The game of basketball had become really popular and was already being included in the 1904 summer Olympics as a demonstration sport.

Though he invented the game and coached the sport for more than 30years, Naismith was not interested in getting recognition.

He even preferred gymnastics and wrestling, which he considered as better forms of Athletics.

James Naismith Facts: Personal Life

13. He hated segregation

James Naismith lived in a time when segregation was the order of the day, with blacks having little to no rights at all.

It was impossible for black athletes to get into the Jayhawks team, but that didn’t stop Naismith from trying repeatedly.

However, he was able to get black students to use the pool for swimming lessons, which was a significant win, considering the fact that black students were given automatic passing grades and were never allowed to use the pool at all.

14. He was married twice

On the 20th of June 1894, Naismith got married to Maude Evelyn Sherman, and their union produced five children.

But Maude died in 1937. She was 67 years old at the time of her death, thus ending their 43-year-old marriage.

By 1939, he got married again, this time to Florence B Kincaid on the 11th of June.

15. He died of a brain hemorrhage

Just a little over four months after getting married to Florence, James Naismith was diagnosed with a major brain hemorrhage and died nine days later at his home in Lawrence.

He was 78 years old at the time of his death.

Naismith was buried in Lawrence Memorial Park next to his first wife, Maude.

Final Words

There you have it, the 15 interesting about James Naismith that you should know.

Hope you had fun reading about the legend and all his contributions to sports in general.

Please let us know what you think about this article in the comments section below.

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