Looking for fun facts about basketball? From the inventor James Naismith to the legend of Michael Jordan, check out these basketball facts now!
We absolutely love the game of basketball. Name us a better sound than the satisfying swish of the perfect shot. Nothing but net, baby!
Chances are you’ve played basketball too. Whether it be in gym class, in your driveway, or on the local courts for a game of HORSE with friends.
In fact, basketball is the 3rd most popular sport in the world with over 2.2 billion players and fans worldwide. It’s just such a simple and accessible sport. All you need if a ball and a hoop and you’re good to go.
But how much do you really know about the history, records and rules of roundball? These fun facts about basketball are sure to amaze you!
Have you ever wondered why the basketball is orange? Or the history of the slam dunk? And who is basketball’s first billionaire? Keep reading to find out!
You might even pick up a few pieces of basketball trivia that could impress your friends during your next game of 3-on-3.
From the dominance of the Boston Celtics, to the revolutionary players, including basketball GOAT Michael Jordan, the world of basketball is fast-paced, fascinating and fun.
So, before you put on your favorite jersey and hit the hardcourts, spend some time with us discovering the most surprising basketball facts!
23 Fun Facts About Basketball
1. The inventor
James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. Naismith, a gym teacher at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, decided to invent a game that could be played indoors during the long New England winters.
After many failed attempts at converting hockey, football and lacrosse to an indoor setting, he came up with basketball.
2. The birth of the NBA
On August 3rd, 1949 the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL) merged to become the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The first league consisted of 17 teams from small and large cities countrywide. But it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that the NBA really started to gain in popularity.
3. The first baskets
Did you ever wonder how basketball got its name? It was from the peach baskets that were first used to catch the ball.
In fact, there wasn’t even a hole in the basket to let the ball through. Someone had to climb a ladder and retrieve it every time a team scored!
4. City of Champions
The Boston Celtics of the 1960s were the greatest NBA dynasty of all-time. Led by all-star player Bill Russell and legendary head coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics won 11 championships in 6 years including 8 in a row from 1959-1966!
5. Olympic dreams
The first Olympic basketball tournament was held in 1904 and the men’s basketball competition has been on the program every year since 1936. Women’s basketball was added in 1976.
The dominant force in Olympic basketball has definitely been the USA, winning 24 of 29 gold medals in men’s and women’s play combined.
6. Why is the ball orange?
The first basketballs were made of brown leather. However, the dull color blended too well with the players making it hard for spectators to see the ball.
Tony Hinkle, coach at Butler University, introduced the iconic orange ball in 1957. This is definitely one of the basketball facts that surprised us!
7. The first slam dunk
The dunk is the most exciting shot in the game of basketball. And who doesn’t love a slam dunk contest?
But did you know that the first dunk was an accident? In 1944, 7-foot Bob Kurland of Oklahoma A&M was pinned in under the net and had no choice but to jump up and stuff the ball in. The rest is history!
8. Women dunk too
The first female dunk happened in 1984. Georgeann Wells of West Virginia University took a half court pass and went in all alone and made history with the first dunk. Her teammates went wild!
How impressive was the Wells dunk? No other female would dunk again for 10 years!
9. The 90s Bulls
The Chicago Bulls of the 1990s are one of the greatest NBA dynasties. They were also a staple of 90s culture. Have you seen the incredible ESPN documentary The Last Dance?
The Bulls, led by all-time great Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson, won 6 championships in the 1990s (91, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98).
10. She got game
Two women have been drafted to play in the NBA. Denise Long was selected in the 13th round by the San Francisco Warriors in 1969. And Luisa Harris was drafted in the 7th round, 137th overall by the New Orleans Jazz in 1977.
11. The best show in basketball
The Harlem Globetrotters, founded by Abe Saperstein in 1926, have played an astonishing 26,000+ exhibition games. Their style blends trick shots and comedy with professional level basketball skills.
Also, one of our favorite basketball facts: Saperstein, at 5’3, is the shortest male inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
12. A bittersweet record
The 2016 Golden State Warriors hold the NBA record for the best regular season. The Warriors went on a mind-boggling tear through the season finishing with 73 wins and 9 losses.
However, there is a huge asterisk on this one. The Warriors would go on to lose the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, losing their last three games of the playoffs.
13. Lakers vs Celtics
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are regarded as the best two NBA franchises of all-time. In fact, each team has won the NBA Championship 17 times. What a rivalry! What team do you think will win a championship next and pull ahead?
14. A game for the ages
This was one of the fun facts about basketball we couldn’t believe. On December 13th, 1983, the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets played into 3 overtimes and combined for a total of 370 points – the most in NBA history! The Pistons pulled out a 2-point win, 186-184.
15. 3-pointer basketball facts
Believe it or not, the 3-pointer wasn’t part of the NBA game until the 1979 season. The 3-point line was introduced that year on a trial basis, but proved to be popular among players and fans.
The all-time leader in 3-pointers is Stephen Curry, the only player to score more than 3,000 from downtown.
16. The iconic logo
The NBA logo is instantly recognizable. Red and blue with a white silhouette of a player at the center. The silhouetted player is NBA great Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers.
There have been petitions for the logo to be refreshed to a new silhouette, possibly Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in 2020.
17. Highest single game scorers
Wilt Chamberlain is regarded as one of the game’s most prolific scorers. In fact, he holds the record for most points in a game with a whopping 100 points in 1962.
Second on the list is Kobe Bryant, who drained 81 points in 2006. But it’s Chamberlain who holds down 5 of the 7 highest point totals for single games.
18. Who’s the greatest?
It’s hard to be objective when ranking the best basketball players of all-time, so don’t quote us on these opinions! ESPN’s 2020 list of greatest players include this top 5.
5) Magic Johnson 4) Bill Russell 3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 2) Lebron James 1 ) Michael Jordan. Do you agree with this ranking?
19. Always the bridesmaid
There are currently 10 NBA teams that have never won a championship.
Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, and the Utah Jazz. Who do you think will be the first to break through first?
20. Making bank
Becoming a basketball star is quite the lucrative career move! The players with the highest net worth are Michael Jordan (1.5 billion), Junior Bridgeman, (650 million), Magic Johnson (600 million), Lebron James (440 million), Shaquille O’Neal (400 million).
These aren’t just ball players, they’re businessmen!
21. The crowd goes wild!
The largest attendance ever for a basketball game was on March 27th, 1998 when the Chicago Bulls visited the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome. The official attendance that night was a humongous 62,046!
22. Basketball on the big screen
We love a good sports movie and basketball has its share of classic flicks. Men’s Health ranked the best basketball movies of all time in 2022.
3) Above the Rim (1994) 2) Love and Basketball (2000) 1) He Got Game (1998).
Then there’s Coach Carter, Glory Road, Teen Wolf, White Men Can’t Jump – and obviously Space Jam too!
23. Rebound king
In basketball, the rebound has a strange reputation as being either an overlooked skill or an overrated statistic of the game.
But we’re going to focus on who did it best. Once again, it’s Wilt Chamberlain with the most rebounds of all-time with 23,924.
Did you enjoy all our basketball facts? If you think we’ve missed any, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to our list!