Basketball was invented in December 1891 in Massachusetts by the Canadian professor at Springfield College, James Naismith. In a short time, the game evolves to its current form. The dribble quickly becomes an essential element, the number of players per team is reduced from nine to five and the value of a scored basket goes from three to two points. A leather ball larger than the soccer ball originally used by James Naismith was used, and fishing baskets (each ball had to be retrieved manually) gave way to nets suspended from metal hoops.
Tokyo 2020 will be marked by another stage in the evolution of this sport with the arrival on the program of three-on-three (3 × 3) basketball in addition to the traditional version.
The men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will each have 12 teams of 12 players, but only five players per team will compete on the court at the same time. The teams are divided into two groups of six for the first round of the tournament. They get two points for each victory and only one point for loss. The top four teams from each group then advance to the quarterfinals for the knockout rounds.
Since Barcelona 1992, professional players, including those of the National Basketball Association (NBA), have the right to participate in the Olympic Games. In contrast, international rules differ from NBA rules in some important respects. First, each quarter game is ten minutes (two minutes less than in the NBA). In the event of a tie at the end of the match, the game is extended for as many periods of five minutes as necessary to determine the winner. The international playing surface measures 28 m long by 15 m wide, slightly smaller than that of the NBA (28.65 m by 15.24 m). The international three-point line describes an arc at a distance of 6.75 m from the basket against 7.24 m in the case of the NBA. In both cases, the height of the basket remains the same at 3.05 m.
The men’s and women’s 3 × 3 tournaments will each have eight teams of four players, but only three players per team compete against each other on the field at the same time.
3 × 3 basketball is played on a surface representing half of a normal court, i.e. 11 m long and 15 m wide. There is only one basket that the two teams will shoot towards. There is no legal surface type, so a 3 × 3 match can be played
on concrete, asphalt, existing or temporary grounds, as long as this surface is playable and the safety aspect of the players has been taken into account.
Each 3 × 3 match consists of a single 10-minute period, so a match can be completed in 20 minutes. However, a team will win a game if it scores 21 points before the time is up. In the event of a tie at the end of regulation time, an overtime will follow. The first team to score two points in overtime wins.
In 3 × 3 basketball, teams have 12 seconds to shoot for a basket, which is half of the 24 seconds allowed in the traditional version. Field shots allow you to score one or two points depending on the shooter’s location, either inside (one point) or outside (two points) of the arc.
Canada at the Olympics
Canada won only one Olympic medal at Berlin 1936, the year basketball was introduced to the Olympic program. In the final against the United States, the rain transforms the clay on the tennis court on which the game takes place into mud which makes it difficult to dribble and prevent many points from being scored. The Americans win 19-8, leaving the silver medal to the Canadians. It was James Naismith who presented the medals that year. The women’s event was added to the 1976 Montreal Olympic program, and Canada’s best result in that event was a fourth place finish in Los Angeles 1984.