The United States has given much to the world, the telephone, the airplane, the microprocessor and much much more. While not ranking amongst the pantheon of great American inventions, we have also given the world the sport of basketball. What does that have to do with hardwood flooring? Just take a look at the court the next time you go to a basketball game. It is a hardwood floor and with March Madness upon us that hardwood floor now takes center stage.
We hopefully all know the story. While teaching at the Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 Dr. James Naismith needed something to keep an unruly class of young adults busy during a long, cold New England winter. What he developed he called Basket Ball, using a soccer ball and peach baskets. One of the great sports of the world was born!
Seeing its popularity amongst his students Naismith spread the game around YMCAs of the United States and brought it with him when he was hired at the University of Kansas as a physical education instructor. He founded that university’s basketball team in 1898 and played against mostly YMCA teams but the sport was growing quickly. Twenty-seven schools competed during the 1898-1899 season, the first year of collegiate basketball, with the top team being Bloomsburg (PA) University. Naismith finished his nine year career at Kansas with a record of 55-60, ironically the only coach in the Jayhawk’s history with a losing record.
Basketball courts began springing up all over the world. The oldest court in the world is at the YMCA in Paris, France, built in 1895. The wood, Hungarian oak, at this court is in excellent condition to this day but the glue that holds it down is coming undone. Maple has become the industry standard and can be found on all NBA courts and most major college courts. It’s hardness produces a consistent bounce for dribbling and its tight grain offer no space for dirt and soil to go. It is exceptionally durable and requires little maintenance to be performed. This wood can come in random lengths, as a continuous strip, or for those Celtics fans out there, as parquet.