Google’s doodle honors KU’s Naismith and invention of basketball

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Google’s doodle on 1/15/2021 celebrating Dr. James Naismith. Naismith created the game of basketball and later coached at the University of Kansas.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Google celebrated basketball and the man who created the game with their own doodle Friday.

Google’s homepage showed an animated doodle of a man resembling Dr. James Naismith, former KU Athletics Director and Men’s Basketball Coach, watching two people shoot a ball through a bottomless wooden peach basket.

Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891, when he was a physical education teacher at what is now Springfield college in Massachusetts.

In January of 1939, he traveled from Lawrence to New York to watch a doubleheader of the game he created at Madison Square Garden. During that trip he spoke on a radio show and explained how he came up with the idea for the popular sport.

“We had a real New England blizzard,” Naismith said. “For days, the students couldn’t go outdoors, so they began roughhousing in the halls. We tried everything to keep them quiet. We tried playing a modified form of football in the gymnasium, but they got bored with that. Something had to be done.”

He went on to explain how the rules of the game changed over the weeks and years. The interview is the only known audio recording of Naismith.

In the years after he created the game and wrote the rules for it, Naismith earned his medical degree in Denver.

The University of Kansas hired him in 1898, and he became KU’s first athletic director.  He was also the school’s first basketball coach from 1899-1907, and remains the only KU Men’s Basketball Coach with a losing record.

Naismith suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in his home in Lawrence in November of 1939. His death came 8 months after the creation of the NCAA Basketball Championship.

The Original Rules of Basketball are on display at the DeBruce Center at the University of Kansas.

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