The History of Basketball Time Line below is LOADED with incredible facts and events that have occurred since the invention of the game back in 1891.
I absolutely love learning as much as I can about the game of basketball! One of my great passions is reading – especially books related to the facts and history of basketball.
If you love to learn about this great game, and consider yourself a student of the game – then I’m sure you’ll love this information!!
History of Basketball Time Line:
1890’s – 2000’s
History of Basketball Time Line: 1890’s
December 1891: Dr James Naismith, an instructor at the School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts, invents basket ball (then two words).
March 11, 1892: Students and workers at the School for Christian Workers play the first public game of basket ball.
March 22, 1893: Smith College in Massachusetts becomes the first women’s school to play basket ball. Men are not allowed to watch the games.
1894: The free throw line is moved from 20 feet to 15 feet.
1895: The field goal value is changed from three points to two points. The free throw value is changed from three points to one point.
1896: The first known professional basketball game is played in Trenton, New Jersey.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1900’s
1904: Columbia University claims the mythical national title by beating Minnesota (27-15) and Wisconsin (21-15) during the regular season.
1907: The Buffalo Germans begin a streak of 111 consecutive victories that extends into 1910.
1909: Players committing a fourth personal foul are not disqualified from the game.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1910’s
1913: The opponent of the last player to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds in awarded the throw-in.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1920’s
1921: The spelling of basket ball becomes basketball.
1923: Passaic High School in New Jersey sets a national record for boys with 159 consecutive wins.
February 25, 1924: Marie Boyd scores 156 points for Lonaconing Central (Maryland) in a 162-3 victory over Cumberland Ursuline Academy (Maryland). This is a national record for girls.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1930’s
1931: A tournament in Peking, China attracts 70,000 fans over three nights.
December 29, 1934: The first college basketball doubleheader is played at Madison Square Garden in front of over 16,000 fans. New York University defeats Notre Dame 25-18, and Westminster beats St. John’s 37-33.
August 1-16, 1936: Basketball becomes an official Olympic sport. The United States defeats Canada 19-8 for the gold medal. The games were played in Berlin, Germany.
December 30, 1936: Hank Luisetti’s (Stanford) one-hand set shot becomes the new rage in shooting. Until this point, players used the classic two-hand shot.
March 1938: Temple University defeats the University of Colorado 60-36 to win the first National Invitation Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1940’s
February 28, 1940: The first televised basketball games were played between Pittsburgh and Fordham (57-37) and New York University and Georgetown (50-27) at Madison Square Garden.
1943: Bob Kurland (7′ tall) enrolls at Oklahoma and George Mikan (6′ 10″ tall) enrolls at DePaul. These were the first two dominant big men to play basketball.
June 6, 1946: The Basketball Association of America (BAA) is founded. Maurice Podoloff is named the league president.
November 1, 1946: The BAA begins play as the New York Knicks take on the Toronto Huskies in Toronto.
January 11, 1947: The BAA outlaws zone defense.
April 22, 1947: The Philadelphia Warriors beat the Chicago Stags 4 games to 1, to win the first BAA championship.
August 3, 1949: Six teams from the NBL join the BAA. the resulting 17 teams form the National Basketball Association (NBA). and name Maurice Podloff as President
History of Basketball Time Line: 1950’s
1950: Duquesne University’s Charles Cooper becomes the first black man drafted by an NBA team, the Boston Celtics.
March 1950: Coach Nat Holman’s City College of New York becomes the first (and last) college team to win both the NCAA and NIT titles in the same year. They defeated Bradly in both championship games.
April 23, 1950: The Minneapolis Lakers become the first team to win back-to-back championships.
November 22, 1950: The Fort Wayne Pistons beat the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 in the lowest scoring game in NBA history.
1951: A crowd of 75,000 people, a record for a basketball game, watch the Harlem Globetrotters perform at Berlin Olympic Stadium.
January 6, 1951: Indianapolis hangs on to edge Rochester 75-73 in six overtime periods – the NBA’s longest game ever.
March 2, 1951: The East defeats the West 111-94 in the first ever all-star game.
1952: The NBA widens the foul lane from 6 feet to 12 feet.
February 13, 1954: Frank Selvy of Furman University score 100 points in a game against Newberry College.
April 12, 1954: Minneapolis Lakers become the first team to win three consecutive Championships.
October 30, 1954: The NBA introduces the 24-second clock. As a result the pace of the game quickens.
March 23, 1957: North Carolina wins the NCAA championship with a perfect record of 32-0.
1958: Oscar Robertson becomes the first sophomore in history to win the NCAA scoring title. He averaged 35.1 points per game for Cincinnati.
April 9, 1959: Boston Celtics win the first of their 8 consecutive titles.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1960’s
January 25, 1960: Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlin grabs a NBA record 55 rebounds.
January 26, 1960: Danny Heater of Burnsville High School scores 135 points in a 32-minute game. His stats were: FG – 53 of 70, FT – 29 of 41, Reb – 32.
1961: The Chicago Packers enter the NBA as the first expansion team.
March 2, 1962: Wilt Chamberlin scores a NBA record 100 Points in a game vs. New York.
March 10, 1962: Oscar Robertson of Cincinnati finishes the Season with an average of 30.8ppg, 12.5 RPG, and 11.4 assist a game. to become the first and only player to average a triple double over a season.
1964: NBA widens foul lane from 12-16 feet.
April 28, 1966: Boston wins its 8th Title in a row. The longest streak in league history.
1966: The NBA awards Chicago with its third team (the previous two had either moved, or disbanded) the Bulls.
February 1, 1967: The American Basketball Association is formed (ABA) with George Miken as President.
1967: The NBA gives teams to San Diego (Rockets), and Seattle (Supersonics).
October 13, 1967: The ABA opens its first game as the Oakland Oaks beat the Anaheim Amigos 134-129.
February 17, 1968: The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Opens in Springfield Mass.
1968: The NBA Expands to 14 teams with the addition of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Phoenix Suns.
May 5, 1969: Bill Russell and the Celtics end their run of 11 rings in 13 seasons.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1970’s
1970: The NBA Expands to 17, with the addition of Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Portland Trailblazers.
January 7, 1972: The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 134-90 for their NBA record 33 straight wins.
1974: ABA/USA officially forms together to become the United States Representative in FIBA. the International Basketball Federation.
March 7, 1974: The NBA expands to 18 when they add the New Orleans Jazz.
August 1974: Moses Malone signs with the Utah Stars of the ABA to be the first professional Basketball player right from High School.
April 30, 1975: Larry O’Brien is named Commissioner succeeding Walter Kennedy.
June 17, 1976: Four former ABA teams-San Antonio, Dallas, Denver, and New York Nets join the NBA. the ABA folds.
July 7, 1978: The NBA approves a franchise swap as John Y. Brown, and Harry Mangurian acquire the Celtics, and Irv Levin Acquires the Braves. he soon moves the Braves to San Diego and become the Clippers.
1978-79: The NBA Adds a third referee.
1979: The NBA adopts a three point line.
October 12, 1979: Celtics guard Chris Ford hits the NBA’s first three pointer.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1980’s
May 1, 1980: The NBA Admits the Dallas Mavericks brining the NBA to 23 teams.
December 13, 1983: The Detroit Pistons defeat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in the highest scoring game in NBA History.
February 1, 1984: David J. Stern becomes the 4th Commissioner succeeding Larry O’Brian.
April 5, 1984: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becomes the NBA’s All-time leader in points scored against the Utah Jazz in Las Vegas Nevada.
May 12, 1985: The New York Knicks win the first ever NBA lottery pick. and select Patrick Ewing.
June 18, 1985: The NBA Draft goes from 10 rounds to 7.
April 13, 1986: The Celtics go 40-1 at home for the best home record in NBA history.
April 20, 1986: Michael Jordan scores a playoff high 63 points in a loss to the Celtics.
April 22, 1987: The NBA Grants Expansion teams to Charlotte, Miami, Minnesota, and Orlando.
October 23-25, 1987: The First McDonalds Championship is played in Milwaukee involving the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, the Soviet National team, the Italian national team. this is the first tournament between the NBA and FIBA.
April 26, 1988: The NBA Permanently adds a third ref. The NBA experimented with a third ref in 1978-79.
July 25, 1988: The Atlanta Hawks become the First NBA team to play in the Soviet Union as they defeat the Soviet team 85-84.
April 8, 1989: IBA allows the NBA to send NBA players to the Olympics.
November 9, 1989: Dale Ellis of Seattle plays 69 of 73 minutes in a 5 overtime game vs. Milwaukee.
History of Basketball Time Line: 1990’s
February 7, 1990: Lisa Leslie of Morningside High School in California scores 101 points against South Torrance High School.
November 2, 1990: The Phoenix Suns defeat the Utah Jazz at Tokyo, Japan in the first Major sports event to be played outside of North America, by any Major American Sports League.
December 30 1990: Scott Skiles of Orlando Dishes out a NBA record 30 assist vs. Denver.
August 8, 1992: The Dream Team begins play in Barcelona Spain. They eventually win the Gold Medal for the USA.
March 24, 1993: Michael Williams of Minnesota makes an NBA record 97 free throws in a row.
November 4, 1993: The NBA agrees to expand to Toronto.
April 27, 1994: The NBA Agrees to Expand to Vancouver Canada. both Toronto and Vancouver will begin play in 95-96.
February 1, 1995: Utah Jazz guard John Stockton becomes the NBA’s all-time Assist leader.
February 20, 1996: Jazz guard John Stockton becomes the NBA’s all time steals leader.
April 21, 1996: The Chicago Bulls defeat the Washington Wizards to finish the season 72-10. the best record ever.
April 24, 1996: The NBA Agrees to start a Womens Nation Basketball Association (WNBA).
February 9, 1997: The NBA announces its 50 greatest players.
October 31, 1997: Violet becomes the first woman to referee a major sporting event. She is soon joined by Dee Kanter.
1998-99: A Lockout by the Owners and players union shortens the NBA season by 32 games.
History of Basketball Time Line: 2000’s
June 18, 2001: The Washington Wizards draft Kwame Brown as the first ever high schooler to be drafted #1 overall in the NBA.
June 26, 2002: the Houston Rockets Draft Yao Ming to be the first #1 overall pick to never play College ball in the US.
January 10, 2003: The NBA Agrees to Expand to Charlotte once again. bringing the number of teams to 30.
WOW! That’s a lot of information on the game! I hope this history of basketball time line has been extremely informative and educational for you. Whether you’re a player, parent, coach or fan – understanding the history and facts of the game is extremely important to your overall development and understanding of the game of basketball.
A note to coaches: Please share this history of basketball time line with your players – they’ll LOVE IT!