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Hoops History in Chicago is Deeper Than the Pizza

By Sponsor in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 8, 2014 5:00AM

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Gothamist staff and Nike.


When many people think of basketball in Chicago, their minds settle on one thing: Michael Jordan. That not only ignores the fact that MJ is a transplant (no offense to the GOAT), it also downplays Chi-town’s rich history of hoops that can be traced to the late 1800s.

This background was a huge factor in bringing Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the USA Basketball National Men's Team to Chicago for the 2014 World Basketball Festival. To celebrate the event, taking place August 14-16, check out these home court highlights.

1893: Just fifteen months after the sport was invented, Chicago's first basketball league was formed by a group of YMCA teams.

This is what a turn-of-the-century ladies basketball team looks like

1895: The Austin High girl’s team competed against college squads and didn’t play under modified rules for girls.

January 18, 1896: The University of Chicago competed in their first intercollegiate five-man squad competition.

1899: Englewood High formed the first permanent high school boy’s team.

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"1906-07 Fighting Illini Basketball team". Via Wikipedia

1900-1909: The University of Chicago held and astounding 72-12 record. Basketball’s popularity in Chicago spread like wildfire during this time period.

1926: The Harlem Globetrotters were formed in the south side of Chicago. Originally called the Savoy Big Five, the founder changed the name to align his all-black team with the era's hub of African-American culture.

1944-45: George Mikan, the original “Mr. Basketball,” won NCAA player of the year back-to-back while attending DePaul University. His dominant performances led to the creation of the shot clock and goaltending violations.

1966: The Chicago Bulls were founded and became the city's most enduring pro-basketball team. Past franchises include the Chicago Bruins (1925-31, 1939-42), American Gears (1944-45), Chicago Stags (1946-50) and The Chicago Packers (1961-62).

December 9, 1978: The Chicago Hustle beat the Milwaukee Does in the first-ever professional women's basketball game.

January 17, 1982: Dwayne Wade was born on the south side of Chicago, and eventually attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn. Wade became one of the city's premier sports exports as a 3-time NBA Champion and 10-time All-Star.

1991: Michael Jordan led the Bulls to their first NBA Championship. In Jordan's time with the Bulls, he garnered 6 NBA Championships, 5 league and 6 final MVP nods, 10 scoring titles and his very own statue. He also gave the world Space Jam.

2008: Simeon Career Academy alumnus Derrick Rose was drafted first overall by the Chicago Bulls. Rose became the first rookie to win the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend and earned '08 Rookie of the Year and '11 MVP honors.

2012: Anthony Davis, Chicago's latest hardwood phenom, had a year filled with milestones. He won the NCAA Championship with the Kentucky Wildcats, took home Olympic Gold as a member of Team USA and was picked first overall at the NBA Draft.

2014: The World Basketball Festival is held in Chicago for first the time, giving Chicago-born players some more bragging rights. Not that they'd need it, with accolades that include two Olympic gold medals, three NCAA titles, 19 first-round draft picks, 24 National Championship rings and 52 All-Star Selections. Damn!

From August 14-16, the 63rd Street Beach House will host the 2014 World Basketball Festival. The venue will hold several Chi-League pro-am and 3v3 games, as well as historical exibits. For tickets to the USA Basketball Men's exhibition game against Brazil's National team on Saturday, August 16, click here.