Pre-NBA, 1891-1949
1891 December 21--Dr. James Naismith introduced the game of basketball to 19 students at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a indoor leisure activity to provide calisthenics and exercise during the long New England winter months when it was to cold to go outside to play football, baseball or lacrosse. Subsequently, basketball became the sport to fill the void between football and baseball season. The game was played using the 13 rules Dr. Naismith outlined (half of which are still applicable today), a soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed 10' inches high from the gymnasium balcony.
1893 The Narragansett Machine Company began manufacturing iron baskets with a net to catch the ball and a chain attached to bottom of the net to release the ball from the basket. This replaced the wooden peach and vegetable baskets used two years earlier.
1894 Dr. Naismith asks A.G. Spalding of Spalding Sports to develop the very first basketball. Today Spalding basketballs are the official balls of the NBA.
1895 Backboards made of wood were introduced to eliminate crowd interference (from the balcony) when players attempted to shoot the ball.

The Free-throw line was moved from 20 feet to 15 feet from the basket.
1896 November 7--The first professional basketball game was played in Trenton, New Jersey, as the Trenton basketball team (formally the Trenton YMCA team) defeated Brooklyn's YMCA Club 16-1. The game was played at Masonic Temple Hall in a banquet hall on the third floor within an enclosed cage made of chicken wire to protect spectators who sat in chairs surrounding the court. These wire cages caused numerous cuts and scrapes. Soon after, the chicken wire was replaced with rope netting. Affectionately, sports writers began referring to players as "cagers."
1897 Yale University basketball team introduces "dribbling" as an offensive strategy, since at the time there was no rule to ban such a maneuver.

The number of players was fixed at five on each team (previously seven-man teams were commonplace).
1898 Hoping to make money on the growing fan interest, sports promoters organized the first professional basketball league—National Basketball League (NBL)—with six teams. The franchises included Trenton, Camden, Millville, Germantown, Pa., and two teams in Philadelphia. The league folded five years later. Many leagues came and went over the next 50 years. Players often played for more than one team in more than one league depending on who was paying the most money. This was the age of barnstorming—traveling around the country and being paid to play against local teams. Players during this era earned approximately $12 a game and considered basketball their second job.
1898 The overhead dribble (tapping the ball in the air volleyball style), the double dribble (discontinued dribbles) and the two-handed dribble are banned.
1902 Harry "Buck" Lew became the first African-American to play in a professional basketball game.
1903 A new rule is adopted that prohibits the person dribbling from shooting the ball at the basket (this rule remained in effect until 1915).
1904 The first suction-sole shoes are advertised by Spalding Sports, establishing the birth of basketball sneakers.
1908 A player was ejected after five fouls to eliminate the rough and physical play that was becoming commonplace during the barnstorming era of professional basketball.
1910 Glass backboards were introduced as improvements from the metal screens and wooden backboards used a decade earlier.
1912 Baskets with open–bottom nets came into general use.
1914 A new rule awarded out-of-bound balls to the team not touching the ball inbounds last. Before this rule players were allowed to scramble over the line for out-of-bounds balls with the first player over the line to touch the ball gaining possession. Rough scrambles for out-of-bounds balls caused injuries.
1916 Glass backboards were temporarily banned in favor of white painted backboards.
1917 The Converse Rubber Company developed and began mass producing the very first version of the Converse "All Star" basketball shoe.
1923 A new rule specified that the player who was fouled must take his own free throws. Previously, designated free-throwers were used.
1929 The Collegiate Joint Rules Committee outlawed dribbling (under the influence of Wisconsin's Walter Meanwell), then immediately reversed its decision (under the influence of CCNY's Nat Holman).
1930 The "caged" era official ended with elimination of all uses of rope or chicken wire around the edges of the court.
1933 A rule requiring teams to advance the ball over the half court line in 10 seconds is introduced.
1936 The three-second lane rule is established (an offensive player cannot remain within the foul lane for more than three seconds at a time). Prior to this a player could remain in the lane as long as he wanted.
1937 Hank Luisetti of Stanford revolutionized offensive play by shooting balls one-handed and averaging 20 points per game for the season. In pervious years the two-handed set shot was commonplace.
1938 The rule requiring a jump ball after each field goal and free throw was eliminated. The new rule gave the defensive team the ball out of bounds after a field goal. Today in the NBA the jump ball occurs only at the start of the game.
1940 February 28--Basketball appeared on television for the first time as station W2XBS in New York airs a college doubleheader from Madison Square Garden with an estimated viewership of several hundred.
1944 Defensive goaltending (blocking a shot as the ball is on its downward flight into the basket) was outlawed (subsequently known as the "George Mikan Rule").
1949 The Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged to become the National Basketball Association (NBA).
1950 The NBA was integrated by Nat Clifton in New York (first African-American signed by a NBA team), Earl Lloyd in Washington (first African-American to appear in an NBA game) and Charles Cooper in Boston (first African-American taken in a college draft).
1954 The NBA adopted the 24-second shot clock as a strategy to overcome deadly offensive slowdowns and ragged play.
1955 The foul lane was widened to 12 feet from the previous 6 feet.
1958 Offensive goaltending (touching the ball inside the basket) was outlawed (subsequently known as the "Wilt Chamberlin Rule").
1962 The NBA's greatest offensive season featured records by Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 50 points per game and scored 100 points in a single game.

Oscar Robertson averages a "triple-double" (double-digit points, rebounds and assists) for the season. Walt Bellamy averages 31 points per game as a rookie.
1968 The dunk shot in college basketball is banned (subsequently known as the "Lew Alcindor [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] Rule").
1977 The dunk shot is once again made legal in college basketball.
1979 Larry Bird and Magic Johnson enter the NBA and together help pump new life and enthusiasm into a sagging league suffering from dipping TV ratings and lack of fan support. Bird and Magic pave the way for Michael Jordan, Shaq, and the superstar era which brings the NBA to its zenith during the mid-1990s.
1990 The NBA expands to 29 teams.
2004 The average NBA salary is $4.4 million.

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