Denver's Place in Basketball History

10/31/06 – P. 12S; Naismith

Did you know that Denver was the second city in the United States to be introduced to basketball by the game’s founder, Dr. James Naismith?
After graduating with a degree in theology from McGill University, Dr. Naismith pursued a career with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). While studying and working at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, he sought a game to keep a “class of incorrigibles” engaged and active in the winter months. In 1891, Dr. Naismith combined rugby football with an English game of Duck-on-a-rock and basketball was born.

James Naismith in the Denver’s city directory, 1897

James Naismith in the Denver’s city directory, 1897
Dr. Naismith and his family moved to Denver and first appeared in the city directory in 1897. That year, Dr, Naismith was listed as the physical director of the YMCA and resided at 1132 South 13th Street. The following year, he was simply listed in the directory as a student, and is said to have taken a medical internship at Denver General Hospital.
Around 1900, Dr. Naismith moved to Kansas, where he served as part of Kansas University’s physical education staff for nearly 40 years. Dr. Naismith died in Lawrence, Kansas, on November 28, 1939, after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 78 years old. 

Want to learn more about Denver’s rich history? Visit DPL’s Western History and Genealogy Department today!

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