On February 17, 1968, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s permanent location opened in Springfield, Massachusetts to honor and commemorate the league’s most talented players.
The museum was originally housed at Springfield College in Massachusetts, a stones throw away from where the sport made its debut.
The Hall of Fame’s namesake, James Naismith is sited as the game’s creator. It was first played after he taught 18 young men the rules at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield in 1891.
In 1936, basketball was included in the Berlin Olympics. The National Association of Basketball Coaches pooled funds, allowing Canadian born Naismith to attend the gold medal round, he later said seeing his brainchild played on the international stage was the proudest moment in his life. The United States defeated Canada 19-8 for the gold medal.
Each year several thousand visitors passed through the Hall’s doors and the location was quickly outgrown. Eyes were set on creating a world class museum and educational center for everything basketball.
In 1979, the Hall hosted the Tip-Off Classic, kicking off the college basketball season. Matches featuring programs such as Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Indiana, and Kansas.
The popularity of the sport has grown immensely over the decades along with the masses making their pilgrimage to the Hall, forcing it to relocate in 2002.