On December 21, 1891, James Naismith of the YMCA, published rules for a new game, asking his class to play a match in the Armory Street court: 9 versus 9, using a soccer ball and two peach baskets. The peach baskets were closed, and balls had to be retrieved manually, until a small hole was put in the bottom of the peach basket to poke the ball out using a stick. Only in 1906 were metal hoops, nets and backboards introduced, along with the soccer ball being replaced by a Spalding ball, similar to the one used today.
The first professional league was founded in 1898. Six teams took part in the National Basketball League, and the first champions were the Trenton Nationals, followed by the New York Wanderers, the Bristol Pile Drivers and the Camden Electrics. The league was abandoned in 1904. In the 1920s and 1930s, Eastern Basket Ball League (founded in 1909), Metropolitan Basketball League (founded in 1921), and American Basketball League (founded in 1925) were the most important leagues. The NBL was founded in 1935 later merged with the BAA, which later became the NBA.