From basketball’s invention in 1891, changes in the sport and in society have sparked contentious discussion over the nature of basketball, as well as over the techniques and tactics that ostensibly best embody and convey that nature. Investigating these discussions, I have identified clusters of recurrent stories, metaphors, and images arising around key events and personalities. In this essay, I analyze, historicize, and offer alternatives to the foundational story in basketball culture: the myth of the game’s creation. To do so, I first employ methods of literary analysis to illuminate the narrative mechanisms by which the myth operates. I then mobilize the historical record to offer a genealogical account of how and why the myth persists. Lastly, I present and argue for the superior value of two alternative models for narrating that origin.


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pp. 37-54
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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