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YouTube Gold: Pre-War Basketball From The Garden

First NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship
First NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship

James Naismith invented basketball in 1891. Originally the game had peach baskets and someone had to knock the ball out of the basket which explains why the center jump happened after every made basket.

Eventually someone had the bright idea of knocking the bottom out and before too long, the ball was simply brought in and over time the game began to speed up and evolve towards what we see today.

Naismith lived until around the start of basketball season in 1939, probably about the time that this video was filmed in Madison Square Garden.

We always like to find old videos like this because they demonstrate where the game was and how much it has changed.

This shows a doubleheader between CCNY and Oregon in the first game and Northwestern vs. St. John’s in the second.

CCNY is long forgotten - a devastating point shaving scandal in the 1949-50 season proved to be a fatal blow and eventually, CCNY dropped to D-III.

But in 1939, basketball’s epicenter was New York and CCNY was one of the top programs in the nation. As you can see, the game has evolved from peach baskets to a faster sport, but it is still very limited. Meanwhile, across the city, young African-Americans were imagining a much different game that would start to burst into the national consciousness in about 20 years.