Citius, Altius, Fortius!
When James Naismith founded basketball in 1891, as a way of keeping his students fit in the harsh winter of Massachusetts, could he imagine that this sport would be embraced by the whole world 130 years on? Definitely not. But James had a feeling that a ball, a playing area and circles were ingredients in what could be a spectacular sport. An explosive cocktail of agility, dynamism and vitality, requiring team spirit and individual commitment, a community mindset and personal talent. It's important to note that to score points the arc around the hoop must measure 46cm (only) and that the panel supporting it is at a height of 3.05m (pretty high!).
From now on, this recipe would revitalise school gyms, universities and sports facilities. It gains impetus, and fast. Faster, higher, stronger, to quote the famous motto devised by Michel Bréal one evening in June 1894 at the end of an opening banquet at the Paris Olympics. This “Citius, Altius, Fortius” uttered by the friend of Baron Pierre de Coubertin –who instantly borrowed it for the Olympic slogan- applies perfectly to basketball. Word of basketball spread via Naismith’s students very quickly from north-eastern US, becoming a Sport with a capital S; its proponents grew in number while the game itself continued to be tweaked here and there.
In 1932, the international federation FIBA was created; in 1936, basketball became an official Olympic sport; in 1946, the National Basketball Association (NBA) was founded. This iconic, snappy acronym would soon come to encapsulate the international regard held for this sport so beloved of university campuses and neighbourhoods across America. The pioneers were George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, paving the way for Dr. J J, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and others.
But it would be a mistake, and highly ethnocentric, to think that basketball was solely American. It is global. With 450 million earthlings around the world, there are top quality championships held everywhere, in Europe, Asia and on every continent. The codes of the game are constantly changing, firstly the standard "ten players on a well-marked out court": street basketball, wheelchair basketball, and 3x3, for example have also taken off. Secondly, diversity is kicking in with increasing numbers of female basketball players of all ages, levels and backgrounds. This sport echoes to a broad spectrum of society, having followed several trends and pioneered a number of movements. It has been immortalised in fashion, music, literature, film and video games, infiltrating every aspect of pop culture.
In these times where recovery is key, this sport is vital. Because there’s nothing better than a world that spins perfectly, like a basketball on your finger!
Basketball is the object of this file.