Naismith legacy lives on through basketball hall of fame

Today’s date marks the 47th anniversary of the opening of the James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which honours the game’s inventor, Ontario’s-own James Naismith.

The hall of fame opened in 1968, less than a month after the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) 18th all-star game. The NBA and the game of basketball had come a long way since the late-1800s, when Naismith first invented the game.

He was searching for an indoor activity that could be played during the harsh and frigid months between football and baseball season known as winter.

On Dec. 21, 1891, while teaching physical education at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Mass., he nailed two peach baskets at opposite ends of the gym and instructed students to throw balls into them. Thirteen rules for the new indoor sport were published in the YMCA newsletter the following month, and the game quickly became a wild success.

Naismith and the 100th anniversary of the game of basketball were commemorated on a 1991 Canada Post stamp (Scott 1344), issued Oct. 25. The stamp, featured in the Basketball issue, came in souvenir sheets of two kinds: one containing a sheet of 40-, 46-, and 80-cents stamps and another of just the 40-cents stamps.

Basketball was first accepted as an Olympic sport for the 1936 Berlin Games. In 1959, Naismith was voted into the hall of fame bearing his name. In 1978, he was inducted into the Canadian hall of fame in his home town of Almonte, Ont.

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