No other city in the United States can boast an array of basketball history like Lawrence. Although the game was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas is where the game of basketball “came of age.” That’s why we’re often called the “Cradle of Basketball.”
The University of Kansas has the only college basketball program founded by the inventor of the game, James Naismith. His original “Rules of Basket Ball” are displayed in the DeBruce Center, a unique facility that explores the rich history of basketball. Right next door is the legendary Allen Fieldhouse (the loudest places in all of sports to watch a game) and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics which honors the greatest athletes in University’s history, including Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce and many more.
With three NCAA National Championships, it’s safe to say that Lawrence is embedded in basketball history.
For a little history:
Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball on December 21, 1891 to fill the need for an indoor winter sport. In 1898, he brought the sport to the University of Kansas, becoming the school’s first basketball coach. The court in Allen Fieldhouse is officially James Naismith Court.
Forrest C. “Phog” Allen became KU’s second basketball coach when he replaced Naismith in 1908. Allen served for 39 seasons at KU. To date beloved Phog Allen is the fourth most successful coach in the history of college basketball and KU’s winningest coach of all time. He was instrumental in the movement to bring basketball to the Olympic games. While Naismith is often called “the father of basketball,” he reportedly coined Allen the “father of basketball coaching.” It is in reference to this beloved coach that his statue stands in front of the Fieldhouse that bears his name and Jayhawk fans warn opponents to “Beware of the Phog.”
To include a little Round Ball in your visit, we recommend the following itinerary:
Download & print the Cradle of Basketball Itinerary
Basketball fans, want more?
- Listen to the recently discovered, only known audio recording of James Naismith from a 1939 radio broadcast, as he describes the creation of the game.
- Wilt Chamberlain, also known as Wilt the Stilt and The Big Dipper, was a student athlete at KU. See the induction ceremony, as his jersey is hung among the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, along with those of other basketball greats who haled from old KU.
- Some of the game’s most successful coaches and players have a connection to KU’s basketball tradition, thus the term “Cradle of Basketball.”
- Coaches: James Naismith, Phog Allen, Adolph Rupp, John McLendon, Dean Smith, Dutch Lonborg, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self are among them.
- Players: Clyde Lovellette, Wilt Chamberlain, Jo Jo White, Danny Manning, Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, Andrew Wiggins and more.
- The official Cradle of Basketball website.