Cages to Jump Shots

Cages to Jump Shots : Pro Basketball's Early Years

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Robert Peterson has emerged as one of America's finest writers on sports history. His groundbreaking book Only the Ball Was White won wide acclaim as a compelling account of baseball's Negro leagues in the days before Jackie Robinson. Now comes Cages to Jump Shots, an insightful and entertaining look at early professional basketball from the birth of the sport through the first years of the NBA. In Cages to Jump Shots, Peterson paints a vibrant portrait of how this sport gained its place in American life. He traces the game from the day in 1891 when the father of basketball, James Naismith, drew up the first rules, through the early barnstorming professional teams playing in gaslit social halls, to the advent of NBA games in Madison Square Garden. His richly detailed account brings to life every aspect of the changing game and the society that grew to love it: the players, the fans, the owners, the officials, the rules, techniques, and equipment. Peterson draws on interviews with old playes to recreate the experience of this dramatically evolving sport, as it went from a brutal, slow-moving game (with a sewn leather ball, underhand set shots, center jumps after every score, and a wire or rope cage around the court) to the high-scoring contests that emerged in the 1950s, with the start of the team foul limit and the 24-second shot clock. Along the way, he illuminates the impact of a changing society, such as the YMCA's early hopes that basketball would foster Christian values, the indignities suffered by black teams in a segregated society, and the influx of Jewish players during the Depression. Peterson brings the story up through the founding of the NBA and its final success in overtaking the popularity of college basketball. Cages to Jump Shots offers a unique and vivid look at a fascinating side of American life. Whether capturing the flavor of the rough-and-tumble early games, discussing the career of the Harlem Globetrotters, or tracing the origins of today's big teams, Peterson lends a lively and perceptive voice to the story of America's most popular more

Product details

  • Hardback | 235 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195053109
  • 9780195053104

Review Text

The history and development of basketball from its origins to the infancy of today's NBA, with all the richness of lore and legend found in the best baseball books. Peterson (Only the Ball was White, 1970) describes a sport quite different from today's high-scoring contests played by giants. The "father" of basketball James Nai-smith, invented the game in 1891 to provide his bored YMCA classes a little variety. He nailed peach baskets to the gallery railing in the gymnasium of Springfield (Mass.) College and even posted a list of rules. Played with a soccer ball, that first experiment ended either 1-0 or 7-0, fairly typical scores for the new games that would shortly be played at YMCAs all over North America. Often played on a caged-in floor (to prevent the ball from going out of bounds) by from 5 to 40 men who two-handed the ball from a set position at a basket with or without backboard, the game evolved for decades before the rules and court specifications became standardized. Like all sports, basketball has its early heroes and legends, though names like Ed Wachter, Shikey Gotthoffer, and George Mikan are barely known outside the game, and teams such as the Buffalo Germans, the Philadelphia Jaspers, and the Original Celtics are all but forgotten. As Peterson notes, even though the game didn't catch on as quickly as football and baseball, the first professional team (the Trenton Basketball Team) appeared as early as 1896, with the National Basketball League debuting in 1898 with a 20-game schedule. No league lasted longer than a few seasons, but the game was here to stay, both professionally and as a major amateur sport. Wonderfully written, and destined to become the classic reference on early basket. ball. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Robert W. Peterson

About the Author Robert W. Peterson is the author of Only the Ball Was White and The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure, and has written for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Magazine, Sport, Boys' Life, and many other more

Rating details

17 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 35% (6)
4 53% (9)
3 6% (1)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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