The Toronto Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers at Maple Leaf Gardens on November 1, 1946, in what the NBA currently deems to be the first game played in NBA history. Ossie Schectman of the Knickerbockers created the first basket. The Huskies were a minor league team that had only been in Toronto since 1944. Originally known as the Toronto Tommyrotts, they changed their name before the start of the 1946 season.
Maple Leaf Gardens was originally built for the 1926 World's Fair but wasn't completed in time for that event. The venue opened its doors for hockey games starting in 1927 and began hosting basketball matches a year later. The Hawks and Leafs are the two most popular sports at MLG but both teams have also played host to soccer matches, industrial exhibitions, and even a circus ring offield during different periods of time. The last hockey game played at the arena was on April 13, 1995; it was also the last NHL game ever played in Toronto.
The original plan was for the basketball court to be used for football practices until the end of the '46 season when the NFL Toronto Argonauts would move into the stadium. However, due to fan feedback, the Argos cancelled these plans and the basketball court stayed open for games.
There were several other early games that some people claim as the first official NBA match-up.
The inaugural game in the history of the Basketball Association of America (later to become the NBA) was played on November 1, 1946, at Maple Leaf Gardens, between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers. On March 28, 1947, the Huskies played their final game at the Gardens. The club was owned by Doug Young who also owned the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. Although the two sports were not related in any way, they often had many players swap teams so there would be depth on each squad.
Maple Leaf Gardens was a huge success at the box office with over 10,000 fans attending each game. The building was also the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team. When the basketball season ended, the Leafs moved out to allow room for more spectators.
In 1948, the Knickbocker franchise moved to New York City where they became the Manhattan Wildcats. The Huskies continued on as an independent team until they disbanded at the end of the season. However, several former Huskies players went on to play for the founding members of the National Basketball Association: the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Stags, and the Providence Steamrollers. The first official game of the NBA took place on October 9, 1949, with the Chicago Stags defeating the Providence Steamrollers 79-67 at Madison Square Garden.
The first public games were held on March 12, 1892. The Springfield Republican reported on March 12th, 1892, that the first public game of basketball was played at a YMCA gymnasium. The professors competed with the pupils. Around 200 onlookers came to learn about this new sport that they had never heard of or seen before. The boys played for the professors, who were awarded $10 as prize money.
Basketball was originally designed for use by students at universities and colleges. In 1890, Harvard University became the first major college to adopt the sport as official team activity. The first men's basketball game played by a professional team was in 1898 when James E. Sullivan's New York Giants beat the Princeton Tigers 29-8 in front of 3,500 fans at Madison Square Garden. The next year, the first national basketball tournament was held at Chicago's Athletic Club. It featured four teams: Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Cornell.
In 1904, William G. McDonald of Chicago formed the first professional basketball league when he hired several former Harvard players to play for his new team, the Chicago Stags. The team went on to win the first National Basketball Association (NBA) title in 1906. Today, there are two distinct leagues in America: the NBA and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
The YMCA began organizing sports programs for children around the same time as the first basketball games were being played at universities.