The original 13 rules of basketball written by James Naismith are as follows:
1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands (never with the fist).
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of Rules 3,4, and such as described in Rule 5.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).
8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there, providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play by the person first touching it. In case of a dispute, the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds; if he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.
10. The umpire shall be judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify men according to Rule 5.
11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made, and keep account of the goals with any other duties that are usually performed by a referee.
12. The time shall be two 15-minute halves, with five minutes' rest between.
13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.
Of course, if you have any common knowledge of how basketball is played, you know very well that today's play is much different. Many of these rules have changed, including the dribble. Dribbling was created as an escape from the defense. Players could also run down the court tapping the ball in the air without it touching the floor, or could dribble the ball using both hands. Now days, you cannot move with the ball unless you are using a one handed dribble. Until 1916, a player could not shoot after dribbling. He had to pass the ball.
Scoring has also changed much since then. In the beginning, field goals counted for one point, and a player who fouled was sent to a penalty box, as in hockey. If a team fouled three consecutive times, the opponent got a field goal. This rule was eventually replaced by free throws. By 1895, field goals were worth two points and free throws one. For many years, each team had one player who shot all the free throws. That rule was changed in 1910 by a New York league that required who was fouled to shoot the free throw. This rule still holds today.
There are also boundary lines on the basketball court marking in and out of bounds. Before the creation of those, when a ball went anywhere on the court, the team that got to the ball first gained possession. This caused teams to go crashing into the spectators, walls, and hallways. Today, we have out of bounds and whichever team caused the ball to go out of bounds, the opponents gain possession with a throw-in.
Other changes such as uniform colors, dunking rules, regulations on backboards, time-outs, overtime, fouling out, backcourt rules, free throws, and three pointers were also engaged in change, some over and over again until they became what they are today.
There was much controversy about the three pointer. It was invented for a catch up method when a team was behind. Indeed, this did work, and in 1980, Western Carolina's Ronnie Carr drilled a three-point field goal, the first in the history of basketball. Few rules have ever impacted the game of basketball as the introduction of the three pointer. College coaches and many other personnel were interested with the three and there was never any talk of getting rid of it. Not only was it a great offensive weapon for teams, it was also very exciting, resulting in higher ticket sales, and it required more skill than the older popular attraction, the dunk.
Basketball is a great American sport, and perhaps one that requires the most skill along with a great mental game. Personally, it is one of my favorites, and it is amazing how it has evolved from 1891 to 2004.