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New Biography on James Naismith Set To Be Released This Month

The first definitive biography of basketball's inventor. 

It seems unlikely that James Naismith, who grew up playing "Duck on the Rock" in the rural community of Almonte, Canada, would invent one of America’s most popular sports. But Rob Rains and Hellen Carpenter’s fascinating, in-depth biography James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball (October publication/Temple University Press) shows how this young man—who wanted to be a medical doctor, or if not that, a minister (in fact, he was both)—came to create a game that has endured for over a century.

Rob Rains reveals how Naismith invented basketball in part to find an indoor activity to occupy students in the winter months. When he realized that the key to his game was that men could not run with the ball, and that throwing and jumping would eliminate the roughness of force, he was on to something. And while Naismith thought that other sports provided better exercise, he was pleased to create a game that "anyone could play."

With unprecedented access to the Naismith archives and documents, Rains and Carpenter chronicle how Naismith developed the original rules of basketball, coached the game at the University of Kansas—establishing college basketball in the process—and was honored for his work at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin.


"All of us who played, coached or enjoyed watching the game of basketball owe a great debt of thanks to James Naismith for devising a game that gave people the opportunity to play inside during the winter."
—Bob Knight

Naismith was so much more than the inventor of the sport and James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball is a well written documentation of his outstanding attributes as an educator, religious scholar and leader of young people. Naismith lived his entire life without regard for personal glory or financial rewards, but rather for setting examples of integrity and perseverance for all to follow. Everyone who reads this book will have a better understanding of the evolution of the game, but more importantly, they will realize that when we follow Dr. Naismith’s general life principles, we and the game become the real winners."
—Billy Packer

Rob Rains is a former National League beat writer for USA Today's Baseball Weekly and for three years covered the St. Louis Cardinals for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. He is the author or co-author of autobiographies or biographies of Tony La Russa, Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire, Jack Buck, Red Schoendienst and many other sports celebrities.

Hellen Carpenter is the granddaughter of James 
Naismith. For more than forty years she had in her possession more than 300 documents from Naismith’s files which were instrumental in crafting this biography.


The publication will also be available in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Museum Store.


James Naismith: The Man Who Invented Basketball

by Rob Rains with Hellen Carpenter

Foreword by Roy Williams
216 pp. Illustrated
$27.50, Oct 2009