Basketball Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


5 Conversations

Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. Naismith was looking for a game that students could play indoors during the winter, and after nailing a peach basket up at each end of the gym, basketball was born. Since then, basketball has become a firm favourite in the United States, and popularity has been growing rapidly worldwide.

Organised games of basketball include five players on the court for each team, and at least one referee, who has the task of calling fouls. Teams score points by shooting the ball in the basket, which is usually worth two points. Players who are fouled are given free throws, worth one point each. Free throws are taken from a specific distance, and the opposing players are not allowed to defend the shot. Many leagues also award three points when a shot is taken from a long distance away from the basket. In addition to shooting, other skills displayed include passing, rebounding missed shots, and blocking attempted shots.

Organised basketball can be found at every level of ability in the States, from elementary students playing in park district leagues, to high school and college students playing for their schools, to the professionals playing in the National Basketball Association. But you don't have to join a league or be a world-class athlete to play basketball...

Pickup Basketball

While organised games have ten players on the court at once, a pickup game can include as few as two players1. Sometimes a pickup game will even involve an odd combination of players, such as three players against two. The term 'pickup' refers to the manner in which games are sometimes started. You might go to the local gym with a few friends and 'pick up' some additional players to get a full team. Then you have to 'pick up' a game by finding another team to play. Often a group of players will just choose up sides and start playing.

Full Court Pickup Basketball

When a pickup game is played with only a few players, they usually play half court, meaning both teams take turns shooting at the same basket. But when there are eight or ten players involved, the game is usually played full court, where there is a basket at each end of the court. Full court pickup basketball is an excellent way to get exercise, due to all the running from one basket to the other. In order to get the most out of full court pickup basketball, you should get a good pair of basketball shoes.

Player Types

You should learn to recognise the different types of players commonly found playing Pickup Basketball.

  • Average Joe
    Average Joes are everywhere in pickup basketball, and are so ordinary you probably won't even notice them. They are not that tall, but not very short either. They have some basketball skills, but nothing extraordinary. In other words, Average Joes are rather average.

  • Superstar
    Superstars can do everything, and do it well. They can shoot, pass, rebound, block shots, and play in defence. They generally have a good amount of organised basketball experience, sometimes all the way up to college level. If you want to win a game at full court pickup basketball, pick yourself up a Superstar.

  • Track Athlete
    These players have unlimited amounts of energy. They can run up and down the court all day long, and never even break a sweat. Most of the time, track athletes do not have the slightest natural ability for basketball, but they can keep going.

  • Rookie
    Rookies have almost no experience, and sometimes have not even held a basketball. They generally have no idea what to do, so they either run all over the court trying to look useful, or stand in one place looking lost. Exercise extreme caution when throwing the ball to a rookie.

  • Manic Defender
    These players are completely uninterested when their team has the ball, but live to play in defence. Manic defenders will immediately pounce on whoever has the ball. Their method involves waving their arms, jumping up and down, and guarding the ball so closely that you can almost taste what they had for lunch. Be very afraid.

  • Gigantor
    Gigantors are big. While some gigantors are tall, they all weigh more than two normal players put together. Some can play basketball pretty well, but most of them just try to bulldoze their way to the basket. Only a fool would stand in the way of a gigantor.

  • Heart-Attack-Waiting-To-Happen
    These players are a medical emergency in progress. There is a lot of running in full court pickup basketball, and a 'heart attack waiting to happen' is just not up to the task. They are not necessarily overweight, but they are not used to exercise. They spend the first minute of the game running hard from one end of the court to the other. For the rest of the game they stand in one spot, bent over, gasping for air, praying they won't pass out.

  • Trash Talker
    Trash talkers are arrogant masters of insults. They only play basketball for an excuse to put down the other players while singing their own praises. Trash talkers are usually decent players, but many are better at talking than at playing. When not playing basketball, Trash talkers can be found on school playgrounds, taunting small children.

  • Whiner
    Whiners are never ever wrong, at least in their own minds, and express their feelings loudly. They are convinced that the other team fouls them every time they have the ball. If an opponent scores against them, they blame their teammates. Bring earplugs if you have to play with a whiner.

  • Lollygagger
    These players spend their time at one end of the court. Lollygaggers appear to be normal players at first, but soon stop running and stay at the offensive end. They will claim that this gives them a better chance to score and help their team, but it really just allows them to avoid exercise.

  • Kung Fu Master
    A rare breed, Kung Fu Masters are a threat whenever they have the ball. They tend to drive towards the basket like any other player, but as they jump in the air to perform a layup, kung fu masters stick a knee, or sometimes a foot, up in the air. This usually means a blow to the chest, chin, or middle portion of the unsuspecting defender.

  • Rocket Arm
    Rocket arms love to pass. Unfortunately, they pass the ball as hard as they can, even if no one is looking. This results in a lot of missed passes, many bruises, and the occasional black eye.

  • Injury Magnet
    These players cannot play for more than five minutes without getting hurt in some manner. Jammed fingers, sprained ankles, and broken limbs are common occurences for injury magnets. They are also the victims of the more unusual injuries, such as taking a knee in the stomach from a kung fu master, or a pass in the face from a rocket arm.

1Known as a game of one-on-one.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Edited by

h2g2 Editors

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more