naismith dr. james  

Dr. James Naismith


  • Presented by Capitol Federal Savings
  • Charter Inductee KSHOF 1961
  • Invented the game of basketball
  • First basketball coach at the University of Kansas
Naismith, Dr. James
Inducted 1961

Born: November 6, 1861 - Almonte, Ontario, Canada

Died: November 28, 1939 - Lawrence, Kansas

Graduated: Almonte (ONT) H.S., 1883; McGill University, 1887; MD - Gross Medical College, 1898


Dr. James Naismith, the “Father of Basketball,” invented the game in Springfield, Massachusetts, in December on 1891. He is officially listed as the first individual enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame named in his honor in Springfield.

Early Life

A Canada native, who was orphaned at the age of nine, Naismith attended Almonte High School in Ontario for two years, dropped out for four, and returned to graduate in 1883.

Inventing the Game

Naismith’s idea of “Basket-Ball” came during the winter of 1891 when he was asked to come up with an indoor game to keep his YMCA students interested in exercising indoors during bad weather. Using a soccer ball, two empty peach baskets, a ladder and thirteen hand-typed rules, Naismith introduced his game that would become the most watched and played indoor sport in the world.

The Start of a Dynasty

He came to the University of Kansas in 1898 as the Director of Physical Education after spending three years at the Denver (CO) YMCA. Thus began a career of 39 years for Naismith at the University of Kansas. Naismith was the head coach for the first-ever basketball game involving KU on February 3, 1899. He was also a minister, doctor and educator, and served with the YMCA in France during the World War I. He retired from KU in 1937. Naismith had the thrill of seeing basketball grow from his idea in 1891 to an international sport at the 1936 Berlin Olympics when the sport was included in the Olympic program for the first time.

Presented by Capitol Federal Savings