Basketball in Springfield
Basketball’s opening chapter unfolded in Springfield, Mass. in 1891, when Dr. James Naismith invented the sport at the school which eventually became Springfield College. A physical education instructor at the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Naismith was encourage by Dr. Luther Gulick – the institution’s athletic department head – to devise a game that would fill the void between the fall football and spring baseball seasons.
Despite having only a two-week window with which to work, Naismith introduced “basket ball” and its initial set of 13 rules to his class in December of 1891. The framework for Naismith’s invention was drawn from a child’s game known as “duck on a rock,” with the object being to knock a “duck” off the top of a large rock by tossing another rock at it. Naismith’s 18 person class played its first game on December 21, 1891, and word of the exciting new sport quickly spread.
Naismith was in attendance when his creation became an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games in Berlin, and his name is attached to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Located off I-91 in Springfield, just minutes from the Armor’s home arena at the MassMutual Center, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame began enshrinements in 1959 and has 316 members through the 2011 inductions.
Just over a century after its inception, basketball returned home on a professional level with the announcement of an NBA Development League team in Springfield on March 31, 2009. The team then held a contest to choose a name, and on June 20th the Armor unveiled their name, logo, and colors. The winning name drew inspiration from the famous Springfield Armory, which was founded by George Washington in 1777 as the Continental Army’s arsenal and went on to become a very important and innovative institution throughout American history. Today, the Armory is a National Park, with a museum featuring the largest gun collection in the world.
After the inaugural announcements, the Springfield Armor began preparations for the season by naming Boston Celtics' alum Dee Brown as the first coach in team history and selecting Marcus Campbell with the first pick in the 2009 NBA D-League Expansion Draft. The team made history on November 27th, 2009, when they held their “Opening Knight” game in front of 3,490 fans. With three seasons now under their belt, the Springfield Armor are prepared to take the court again in 2012-13 in their second season as the exclusive NBA D-League hybrid single affiliate of the Brooklyn Nets.