Life in the USA
Basketball is a truly American game. Physical education instructor Dr. James Naismith invented a rough version of the game for his students in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. That city is now the site of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Naismith himself was instrumental in helping basketball spread to American colleges and high schools. During the twentieth century, as a set of standard rules developed, professional basketball grew in popularity to become one of the nation's most popular spectator sports. Americans, both male and female, often enjoy playing basketball on a recreational basis, sometimes as members of organized leagues. Although casual basketball games may take place outdoors, organized basketball is largely an indoor sport. Basketball is a quick-moving, high-scoring game, using five players on each side.
A number of professional basketball stars are extremely highly paid, earning handsome fees for endorsements and advertising in which they show off their athletic prowess, often seeming to defy gravity itself. Most, but not all, successful basketball players are tall. A few short players, notably 5 foot 4 inch Muggsy Bogues, have been able to use their natural athleticism and speed to make up for their lack of height.
The National Basketball Association (NBA), formed in 1949, regulates men's professional basketball. The 30 NBA teams play a regular season of 82 games between November and April, followed by a series of playoffs to determine a champion. The NBA has the following structure:
Nearly every high school in the United States, no matter how small, has a basketball team. For many areas away from the large cities, high school basketball is a major spectator sport. The states of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky are particularly well associated with a near hysterical devotion to high school basketball, but virtually any American community may succumb.
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