At the London 2012 Games, Basketball will feature both men’s and women’s events. Both competitions will comprise 12 teams.

600 Basketballs will be used during the competition.
The original Basketball hoops were not bottomless nets, but peach baskets with bottoms. An official had to use a ladder to retrieve the ball after every score.
The modern basketball is 24cm in diameter, while the hoop has a diameter of 46cm.
The tallest player in modern Basketball is Yao Ming of China, who stands at a massive 7’6” (2.29m).
In Berlin 1936, the first official Olympic Basketball tournament was held outdoors on courts made of sand that turned to mud in the rain.
There was an exhibition Basketball tournament at the St Louis 1904 Olympic Games, but only a few American club teams competed.

Key facts

Venues: Basketball Arena; North Greenwich Arena (finals)
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Sunday 12 August
Gold medals up for grabs: 2
Athletes: 288 (144 men, 144 women).

Basketball: a history of the sport

Basketball is usually considered an American sport, but it was actually invented by a Canadian churchman called James Naismith.

He wanted to create a game that could be played indoors during the winter, as a way of keeping his students at the YMCA in shape.

Today, basketball is played worldwide, with players from more than 30 countries strutting their stuff in the American National Basketball Association (NBA) – the world’s leading professional league. 

For more information on the history of the sport, visit the IOC website.

Basketball at the Games

The US men’s team has dominated Olympic Basketball.

For 36 years after Basketball entered the Games as a full medal sport at Berlin 1936, the question was always who would win silver.

Then, at Munich 1972, the Soviet Union won a tight gold medal match, beginning a rivalry that lasted until Barcelona 1992.

At Barcelona, professional players took part for the first time, and an all-star NBA ‘Dream Team’ won gold.

Women’s Basketball – first held at the Montreal 1976 Games – has not been so one-sided, although the United States and Russia still dominate.

How to play – and win

At the Olympic Games, Basketball is played on an indoor court by two teams of five players.

The aim is to score points by shooting the ball into your net (or ‘basket’), which sits on a backboard 3.05 metres (10 feet) above floor level.

The players move the ball around the court by bouncing it along the floor and throwing it to one another. Games consist of four 10-minute quarters with teams changing ends at half-time.

Jargon buster

  • Slam dunk: When a player jumps to the level of the basket and slams the ball down into the net with one or both hands.
  • Downtown: The area outside the ‘three point’ semi-circle.
  • Time-out: A one-minute break, called by the coach to talk tactics.
  • Live ball: A ball in play.
  • Assist: A pass that leads directly to a basket scored by a teammate.

~ by superbowlnyc on January 30, 2011.

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