Before widespread school district consolidation, most United States high schools were far smaller than their present day counterparts. During the first decades of the 20th century, basketball quickly became the ideal interscholastic sport due to its modest equipment and personnel requirements. In the days before widespread television coverage of professional and college sports, the popularity of high school basketball was unrivaled in many parts of America.
Today virtually every high school in the United States fields a basketball team in varsity competition. Basketball's popularity remains high, both in rural areas where they carry the identification of the entire community, as well as at some larger schools known for their basketball teams where many players go on to participate at higher levels of competition after graduation. In the 2003–04 season, 1,002,797 boys and girls represented their schools in interscholastic basketball competition, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. The states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are particularly well known for their residents' devotion to high school basketball, commonly called Hoosier Hysteria in Indiana; the critically acclaimed film Hoosiers shows high school basketball's depth of meaning to these rural communities.----------------------Naismith was instrumental in establishing college basketball. Naismith coached at University of Kansas for six years before handing the reins to renowned coach Phog Allen. Naismith's disciple Amos Alonzo Stagg brought basketball to the University of Chicago, while Adolph Rupp, a student of Naismith's at Kansas, enjoyed great success as coach at the University of Kentucky. In 1892, University of California and Miss Head's School, played the first women's inter-institutional game. Berenson's freshmen played the sophomore class in the first women's collegiate basketball game at Smith College, March 21, 1893. The same year, Mount Holyoke and Sophie Newcomb College (coached by Clara Gregory Baer) women began playing basketball. By 1895, the game had spread to colleges across the country, including Wellesley, Vassar and Bryn Mawr. The first intercollegiate women's game was on April 4, 1896. women played Berkeley, 9-on-9, ending in a 2-1 victory. In 1901, colleges, including the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, University of Minnesota, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Utah and Yale University began sponsoring men's games. By 1910, frequent injuries on the men's courts prompted President Roosevelt to suggest that college basketball form a governing body. And the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) was created.
Teams abounded throughout the 1920s. There were hundreds of men's professional basketball teams in towns and cities all over the United States and little organisation of the professional game. Players jumped from team to team and teams played in armories and smoky dance halls. Leagues came and went. And barnstorming squads such as the Original Celtics and two all African American teams, the New York Renaissance Five ("Rens") and (still in existence as of 2006) the Harlem Globetrotters played up to two hundred games a year on their national tours. Women's basketball was more structured. In 1905, the National Women's Basketball Committee's Executive Committee on Basket Ball Rules was created by the American Physical Education Association. These rules called for six to nine players per team and 11 officials. The International Women's Sports Federation (1924) included a women's basketball competition. 37 women's high school varsity basketball or state tournaments were held by 1925. And in 1926, the Amateur Athletic Union backed the first national women's basketball championship, complete with men's rules. The first women's AAU All-America team was chosen in 1929. Women's industrial leagues sprang up throughout the nation, producing famous athletes like Babe Didrikson of the Golden Cyclones and the All American Red Heads Team who competed against men's teams, using men's rules. By 1938, the women's national championship changed from a three-court game to two-court game with six players per team. The first men's national championship tournament, the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tournament, which still exists as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament, was organised in 1937. The first national championship for NCAA teams, the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in New York, was organised in 1938; the NCAA national tournament would begin one year later.
College basketball was rocked by gambling scandals from 1948 to 1951, when dozens of players from top teams were implicated in match fixing and point shaving. Partially spurred by an association with cheating, the NIT lost support to the NCAA tournament.*******************In 1946, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was formed, organising the top professional teams and leading to greater popularity of the professional game. The first game was played in Toronto, Canada between the Toronto Huskies and New York Knickerbockers on November 1, 1946. Three seasons later, in 1949, the BAA became the National Basketball Association (NBA). An upstart organisation, the American Basketball Association, emerged in 1967 and briefly threatened the NBA's dominance until the rival leagues merged in 1976. Today the NBA is the top professional basketball league in the world in terms of popularity, salaries, talent, and level of competition.
The NBA has featured many famous players, including George Mikan, the first dominating "big man"; ball-handling wizard Bob Cousy and defensive genius Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics; Wilt Chamberlain, who originally played for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters; all-around stars Oscar Robertson and Jerry West; more recent big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone; playmaker John Stockton; crowd-pleasing forward Julius Erving; European stars Dirk Nowitzki and Drazen Petrovic and the three players who many credit with ushering the professional game to its highest level of popularity: Larry Bird, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
The NBA-backed Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) began 1997. Though it had an insecure opening season, several marquee players (Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Sue Bird among others) helped the league's popularity and level of competition. Other professional women's basketball leagues in the United States, such as the American Basketball League (1996-1998), have folded in part because of the popularity of the WNBA.
In 2001, the NBA formed a developmental league, the NBDL. The league currently has eight teams, but added seven more for the 2006-2007 season.