The popularity of basketball has been increasing for a number of years across the globe and the UK is no exception. Here are five facts about basketball that all lovers of the sport should know.
The appearance of a modern basketball is so iconic that, for most of us who grew up with them, it is hard to imagine a basketball coming in any other size, shape or colour. However, like all sports, a lot has changed over the years, we will discuss more of these changes in this article. The most common basketballs were, for many years, brown. But if you’re thinking that the brown basketball is a hangover from basketball’s earliest days, you might be surprised to know that the orange ball was only introduced in 1983.
The first company to produce an official basketball for the NBA was Spalding, who continue to produce official game balls to this day. Balls were initially made from leather, hence the brown colour. There is a popular belief that in the 1950s, there was a drive to change the colour of the ball to orange so that it would be easier to see. Whether this is true or just a widely believed fallacy is uncertain.
The first-ever game of basketball was played in 1891 at Springfield College. Despite basketball being up there with baseball as the quintessentially American sport, it was in fact invented by a Canadian doctor by the name of James Naismith. He initially invented the game as a way of keeping a group of unruly male students occupied. The game rapidly spread and gained popularity, by 1936 it was included in the Olympics. Going from conception to being recognised in the Olympics, in less than 50 years, is an impressive feat!
While Naismith was a member of staff at Springfield College, the college encountered a problem with a class of male students. The class was required to take an hour of gym every day, but no matter what sport they played, they would become bored and unruly. Naismith tried variations on a number of existing sports, including American football, lacrosse, and soccer, but the games were either too easy and boring or too aggressive to keep the class occupied.
Eventually, he decided to devise a completely new indoor ball game of his own, and the rest is history. The game would continue to evolve over the following decades until reaching the state it is in today as one of the most popular sports in the world.
We all know that sports teams can be worth a lot of money; they are mostly owned by billionaires, after all. In February 2018, in the same week that the global stock market saw $4 trillion wiped off its total value, it was announced that every club in the NBA was now worth at least $1 billion. The average value had reached this milestone already, but now this value can be ascribed to each individual team, with the average value rising to $1.65 billion. This represents an increase of 22% over last year.
Over the last five years, the value of NBA franchises has tripled, largely thanks to the growth of the international audience for basketball. The NBA now has a number of international branches, including in the UK. The international growth rate of basketball is, by far, the best of any sports league in the United States.
Michael Jordan is widely known as one of the best basketball players of all time. From his very first season of play, Michael Jordan stood out as an exceptionally talented player. His first game, against the New York Knicks, ended in a standing ovation, something made even more impressive by the fact that he was part of the away team at Madison Square Garden that day.
His career score of 5,987 points remains an unbeaten achievement, despite Jordan retiring 15 years ago in 2003.
When we think of typically British sports, we think first of football, then cricket, and then maybe tennis. When it comes to overall viewing figures, the number of people watching basketball in the UK has been rising steadily for some time. Over the last several years, the rate at which viewing figures have risen has increased, indicating that there is still some way to go until the sport reaches the apex of its popularity.
While basketball is obviously popular in the UK, many people are surprised to discover that it is the third most bet on sport, behind football and tennis. Sports betting, in general, is becoming more popular in the UK, thanks in large part to the proliferation of online sports betting services. With such a wide variety of services to choose from, gambling online lets you find the most competitive basketball odds.
Do you know any amazing basketball facts that we missed? If so, let us know in the comments below!