Welcome to Kansas, The Cradle of Basketball

QUESTION What do Paul Pierce, Wilt Chamberlain, Dean Smith and the Fathers of Basketball have in common?


No state or city in the world can boast the basketball heritage of Lawrence, Kansas.

James Naismith, the Father of Basketball, invented the game in Massachusetts. He then brought it to the University of Kansas in 1898. According to his grandson, “We have a saying in the Naismith family:  basketball was born in Massachusetts, but it grew up in Kansas.”

Kansas is the Cradle of Basketball and the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, is the fulcrum. As KU’s first basketball coach, Naismith directly impacted his Jayhawks, but also many other programs in the state. Anywhere in the world it was played, the nascent game was often chaotic and brutal, but not in Kansas. This is where the inventor’s authority was paramount in the game’s correct development. When it came to the maturation of basketball, there was no place like Kansas. Even so, the wider world of basketball needed Naismith’s influence to guide the game well beyond this home on the range. He would soon acquire an indispensable ally.

Enter Forrest C. “Phog” Allen, a player on Naismith’s 1905 team. Allen was destined to be one of the first and one of the greatest basketball coaches. At KU, he cultivated the game with novel concepts of offensive plays and defensive strategies. Allen drove the game forward with key rule supervision and establishing the National Association of Basketball Coaches. His unrelenting appeal propelled basketball into the Olympics. In 1940, he launched the NCAA basketball tournament. 

Naismith, impressed with his student’s leadership and success, pronounced Phog Allen ​the Father of Basketball Coaching.

The Cradle of Basketball is the place the two “parents” of basketball called home and where they spent their long careers advancing the game. James Naismith’s original rules of basketball were purchased by alumnus David Booth in 2010 and donated to the University of Kansas. They are now permanently displayed next to renowned Allen Fieldhouse. How fitting that the Rules have finally returned to the Cradle of Basketball.


ANSWER They are all part of the Cradle of Basketball. Others who rocked the Cradle at Kansas: Adolph Rupp, John McLendon, Frosty Cox, Ralph Miller, Clyde Lovellette, JoJo White, Lynette Woodard, Larry Brown, Roy Williams, ​Mario Chalmers, Andrew Wiggins, Danny Manning, John Calipari, Bill Self…