NBA Visits Glasgow
Strathclyde Sport welcomes Jim Naismith, the grandson of Dr James Naismith who invented the game of basketball, as well as a host of current and former Scottish National Team Players, on Saturday to mark a collaboration between basketballscotland and the National Basketball Association (NBA). This collaboration aimed to generate more grassroots basketball through the primary school system. The launch sees the two organisations back the expansion of the “Jr. NBA” league in Scotland and include a second league, as well as the first ever Jr. NBA Wheelchair Basketball league.
Four cities currently host teams in the Jr NBA, with Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow all featuring mini-organisations of current NBA Teams. Plans are to run a second league and to expand into further towns and cities at a further date, bringing the game to more children around the country.
“We are thrilled to announce the first-ever Jr. NBA Wheelchair Basketball League along with the expanded Jr. NBA basketballscotland League and are honoured to have Jim Naismith attend to commemorate this occasion,” said NBA EMEA Associate Vice President, Basketball Operations Neal Meyer. “These leagues allow us to reach even more children around the country, providing them with a fun, competitive environment in which to engage with the sport and learn about the values the Jr. NBA embodies like teamwork, respect and community.”
The Jr. NBA Wheelchair Basketball League will debut with a pilot program of four teams in the 2019-20 season, and will be incorporated within the existing Jr. NBA program, sharing the same Draft and Finals events. The NBA and basketballscotland strive to provide competitions for all athletes and aim to expand competitive opportunities to wheelchair basketball players, ages 9-13.
“We are very excited about the expansion and are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the NBA,” said basketballscotland CEO Kevin Pringle. “The chance to pilot a wheelchair basketball league in Scotland and expand to new regions is a fantastic opportunity to reach more children and ensure the programme is fully inclusive. Having Jim Naismith in Scotland to celebrate the history of basketball in our country and to mark this expansion is an honour. We look forward to continuing to grow basketball in Scotland through the Jr. NBA programme and the possibilities it brings.”
Similar to the NBA, teams will be divided into two conferences and six divisions. The leagues will each run over the course of three months throughout the year, with the top eight teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs. The top two teams from each conference will then meet in the league championship to determine the Jr. NBA basketballscotland League champions.
Jim Naismith, who is of Scottish heritage, is also making an appearance as a special guest at the upcoming Jr. NBA Clinic. The clinic celebrating the announcement will also feature appearances by current and former Scotland National Team players including Kieron Achara and Gareth Murray. They will be presenting Jim Naismith with a personalised Scotland jersey for the occasion. The event will also feature the FIBA Basketball World Cup trophy, known as the Naismith Trophy in honour of the game’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith. This marks the trophy’s first appearance in Scotland, ahead of its trip to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China, beginning in August.
“I am delighted to be in Scotland to help celebrate the continued growth of the Jr. NBA,” said Naismith. “My grandfather intended for his invention of basketball to be a gift to the world. When seeing it used for the joy and benefit of young people, he was delighted. I know he would be very proud to see the opportunities available for the youth in Scotland – a country that he called “home” and cared deeply about.”
Making it Rain
Naismith’s visit to the country coincides with the airing of a new documentary in which he serves as narrator on the untold history of basketball in Scotland. ‘Making It Rain: A Scottish Basketball Story’ will premiere on Sky Sports Action on Wednesday, May 22nd at 6:30p.m. The documentary highlights the country’s deep connection to the sport – from its invention in 1891 all the way through to the National Team’s success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – and features various prominent Scottish and global sporting figures.