First Basketball Hoop Higher Than Ten Feet?

by Conor on February 25, 2010

First Basketball Hoop

Today we released a reference article describing the “Origin of the Hoop“. The most interesting parts include the fact that the backboard was originally created to fend off fans, and the accompanying image of the first “basket.”

What I found strange about the image is that the basket almost surely must be higher than ten feet. Look at the doors behind the basket. Doing some basic measurements on the picture, the basket is just slightly over two doors length high. That means that those doors had to be less than five feet tall to make that basket ten feet high.

There is nothing in the original rules saying that the basket has to be ten feet high. Most articles written just declare that the first hoops were ten feet high, but I think it the official height decision must have come a few years later.

Based on my understanding of door heights from that era, I would estimate that the first basket rim was actually between 12 and thirteen feet high. I wonder how much that would have changed the evolution of the game had the hoop stayed at that height?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd February 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I love old pics of old gyms like this. The rim does look a little high. I think it looks like it may be about 11 feet high or so though. I think the angle of the photo and the reflection off the windows make it look higher. To me it looks like the rim is attached to the track above – which I assume is level or even slanted down slightly- which puts it six inches or so above the windows. The windows looke like they are 3-4 feet above the door. The door I am guessing is 6′ 8″- a common hieght for door openings. Or perhaps I just don’t want to see it much higher than that because it would mean any chance to dunk- even a golf ball- would never have been possible for me. Great job on the redesigned website by the way.


Aaron January 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Interesting observation. One thing I would add Is that since the doors are not immediately under the hoop, perspective will make them seem smaller than they truly are. The further back, tha smaller he appearance. One thought would be to measure the ball and use it as a reference (in ignorance, I ask, would it have been a 29.5″ ball?). Since it appears to be right under the hoop the dimensions ought to be correct. Just another way to consider measuring. I love the idea of making a court and ball for adults proportionate to what a standard ball and rim height are for average kids. Maybe a 31-32″ ball 20″ or so rim and a larger court. Add your 13′ rim height and see how the game changes. Would be fun to see made and played.


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