James Naismith Rumors
His discovery has opened up a whole new basketball debate — a Pandora’s Box-and-One, if you will. Alagappan argues that basketball’s traditional five positions are as outmoded as James Naismith’s peach basket, insisting instead that there are at least 10 distinct positions. And he has the topological data analysis to prove it. “The positions are kind of the alphabet by which everything around basketball revolves,” Alagappan said. “If we can redefine the alphabet in terms of these 10 or 13 positions, then we can hopefully change all of the strategy that the game is built on.”
Jim Naismith, grandson of basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith, will be on hand for tonight’s game with the Sacramento Kings to present the Naismith Legacy Award to Dirk Nowitzki. The award is presented to players, coaches and other individuals or organizations from the game of basketball honoring their role in furthering the values of honor, respect and integrity — both on an off the court.
It’s happy 40th birthday to the shootaround. Back up a minute. The non-basketball junkie might want to know what in the name of James Naismith is a shootaround and why is it having a birthday. Well, back in 1971, when Bill Sharman took over as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, he proposed that his players show up at the arena on the morning of game days for a very loose practice that he dubbed a shootaround. The Lakers ended up winning the NBA title by going 69-13, which was then the best mark in NBA history and included a record 33-game winning streak. With those results, that’s why all NBA teams have been taking the lead from Sharman since the 1970s. It was on Oct. 15, 1971 that the Lakers’ regular season began and the shootaround started to become an NBA staple. So that seems as good of a birthday as any.
Lawrence High and Kansas University graduate David Booth felt so strongly that the two pages on which James Naismith wrote the original 13 rules of basketball should find a home on the KU campus he paid $4.3 million in an auction Friday to guarantee that. David and his wife, Suzanne Booth, purchased the rules via telephone at an auction that took place at Sotheby’s in New York City, where the rules were sold by the Naismith International Basketball Foundation. “We’re very excited about it,” David Booth said from his office in Austin, Texas. “I think they need to figure out an appropriate venue for them. I don’t know what that is. Maybe in a (new) museum. Maybe with the statue of Naismith looking back at Phog (Allen). I think it’s a little bigger than the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. This is serious stuff.”
The exact price the Booths bid for the rules, written on Dec. 21, 1891, and signed by Naismith in 1931, was $4,338,500, a sports memorabilia record, according to Sotheby’s. Asked how much higher he would have bid, Booth said, “It was getting close.” Booth’s motivation for bringing the rules back to where the game’s founder is buried was that “they’re incredibly important and they should be at the University of Kansas. Naismith was there 40 years. He invented basketball and Phog Allen was one of the key figures in making it so popular. Nobody else was going to do it (buy the rules to bring them to KU).”
The first rules of basketball, as set down by Dr. James Naismith, don’t look bad for age 119. The two typewritten pages are yellowed, creased and a bit frayed. A tiny pinhole is visible on one page. Traces of tape that fixed a tear are visible across the top of the other. But the pages are legible and intact. Naismith enumerated 13 rules for a game that he hoped would appeal to students at the Y.M.C.A. Training School in Springfield, Mass., in the winter of 1891. It was to be a gentlemanly game without “shouldering, holding, pushing or striking,” where the ball “may be batted in any direction” (but not with a fist), and a “player cannot run with the ball” but “must throw it from the spot on which he catches it.”
Now, it is safeguarded at Sotheby’s, which will auction it in Manhattan on Dec. 10. Sotheby’s expects it to sell for at least $2 million. In a telephone interview from North Carolina last week, Ian Naismith said the family has previously had offers for the document, but had turned them down. Naismith said that he contacted Sotheby’s to sell the rules to replenish the fund of the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, which he said had suffered because of his wife’s death and his health problems. A few years ago, Hellen Carpenter, a cousin he said he had never met, sold some of his grandfather’s effects at another auction.