Basketball's Humble Origin As A Diversion For Hated Giants

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Basketball's Humble Origin As A Diversion For Hated Giants

Today, genetic freaks are celebrated as sports heroes. But giants used to be shunned and feared. All that changed with the invention of basketball by Dr. James Naismith in 1891.

Giants in Springfield, Massachusetts in the late 19th century were considered a necessary evil. Loathed for their size, which was widely seen as an affront to God, the townspeople nonetheless needed the giants to pick apples in western Massachusetts's many apple orchards. But once the apple-picking season was over, angry townspeople drove the giants out of town.

With restrictive laws that barred giants from owning property in town, they were forced to find kindness wherever they could. The forward-thinking Naismith collected giants he found on the streets and gave them a place to sleep at the YMCA where he worked. Hoping to occupy their time during the winter and build their self-confidence, Naismith invented a game they could excel at.

Town leaders condemned Naismith for mixing with the giants, and rumor-mongers even slandered him with accusations his wife had been stolen by a giant. But the town's youth were fascinated by the lumbering giants and their overpowering game. Naismith incorporated the Giants Basketball Association (GBA) in 1898, which later became the NBA, and one of the most popular sports worldwide.

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