Since 1891, when James Naismith wrote 13 rules for a game he named "basket ball" at a Springfield, Mass., YMCA gym, the rims have always been 10-feet high. However, the average height for males at the period was 5-foot-6. Dwight Howard slammed a 12-footer with a two-handed dunk in the 2009 game. The record is 14 feet by the legendary Bill Russell.
The NBA has always been a relatively small league, so it's not surprising that many of its greatest players have been small forwards or shooting guards. In fact, only five men have scored more than 20,000 points since the NBA began tracking statistics in 1950: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James. (West, Baylor, and James are still playing.)
And yet, the big man has always had a place in the NBA. From the beginning, coaches have looked to build strong teams around centers who could score inside against smaller lineups and defend the basket against bigger players. In the 1950s, Dolph Schayes and Ralph Sampson defined the terms "crowded lane" and "3-point shot," respectively. In the 1980s, Moses Malone and Shaquille O'Neal dominated both ends of the court. Today, people look to names like Howard, Andrew Bynum, DeMarcus Cousins, David Robinson, and Tim Duncan for guidance on how to build successful teams.
The average NBA player is now 6-foot-7. So if you add 1 foot to each side of the court, you get about 20 feet from top to bottom.
These days, basketball courts are usually made of hardwood or concrete and are usually the size of a school playground. They can be open or enclosed. Enclosed courts contain four walls with a roof above them, while open courts have no wall on three sides of the playing area (except for nets at either end) so that spectators can watch the action.
The term "hoop" refers to the circular metal frame that supports a net inside an enclosed court. There are actually two hoops: One is located under the basket where balls rebound off of it back into play; the other is called the backboard and it's used by coaches from the sidelines. Both are required by law to be transparent so that players can see where the ball is going.
There are only 12 men's basketball teams in the NBA and each one has an average roster size of 5 members. This means that individually, each player averages about 20 percent of the team.
10-foot-high rims Since 1891, when James Naismith wrote 13 rules for a game he termed "basket ball" at a Springfield, Mass., YMCA building, the rims have always been 10-foot-high. So over time, the rims would need to be raised.
In 1998, the NBA changed the size of its court from 50 feet by 20 feet to 40 feet by 25 feet, with the goal of making the game more appealing to fans. The change required all baskets to be raised 10 inches, which makes winning balls harder to come by but also makes them look more impressive when they do.
A standard basketball rim is 7 inches wide and rises about 3/4 inch for every foot it extends. So a 10-foot-high rim would weigh about 70 pounds, while a 15-foot-high one would weigh about 105 pounds. That's not much more than a standard pool table, and since rings are usually made out of wood, they would get banged up after a few games.
In addition to being heavy, rims take up space that could be used elsewhere on the floor. A coach might want to move them if he feels like his players are getting bored with the same old shots. Or he could just use them as a place to throw spitballs at hecklers...
The rim height was later standardized, although in 1954, the NBA increased the hoop to 12 feet for one game in an attempt to minimize George Mikan's supremacy, the 6' 10" great who ruled his period (he ended up scoring less than his average on the season). The old standard was lowered to 10 feet 4 inches in 1958.
As far as we know, the NBA has never lowered its rims again.
However, there is evidence that some teams have been lowering their rims over time. In 2001, San Antonio's Michael Finley complained about a lower rim in his house basketball court, saying it made shooting difficult. The Spurs had not changed their position since he moved into it almost 20 years earlier.
In 2009, Atlanta Hawks center Al Jefferson said that his new team was playing with a 9-foot rim because other teams were going down too. He claimed that this was common practice among big men in the NBA and that it benefited them by making it harder to shoot jumpers.
This doesn't mean that you should buy a low basket to play in small courts or that teams are doing it on purpose. It just means that you should be aware of how high your rim is before you purchase equipment for home use.
The NBA basketball hoop stands 10 feet tall. When James Naismith, the man credited with creating basketball, created the game's original regulations, he fixed the height of the basketball rim at 10 feet. The hoop height has stayed constant for many, many years (almost 125 years).
During this time, the technology used to build basketball courts has improved greatly. The plastic mesh that covers most modern basketball hoops is designed not only to look good, but also to allow air to flow through it to keep the ball dry and prevent injuries due to sweating. The metal pole supporting the netting on which the balls rest is usually painted black to help it show up in dark court surfaces.
There are two methods used to determine how high a basketball goal should be installed on a court. The first method uses the free-throw line as a guide. If you measure from the floor to the center of the top of the backboard, then add 1 foot to that number, you will have an estimate of how high the goal should be installed.
As long as there are no changes made to the court surface or other objects placed on it (such as a backboard) that would affect the measurement, using the free-throw line as a guide is a quick way to determine goal height.
The second method requires that you measure the distance between the foul lines on the floor and the top of the backboard.