Basketball was invented in 1891 by Jim Naismith. He invented the sport for indoors play at YMCA during the Massachusetts winter. The first game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets for goals.
The sport spread from the YMCA to colleges where the first basketball leagues were formed.
As the sport gained popularity at the college level, professional leagues were formed and, in 1936, basketball became an Olympic sport. Today the NBA (National Basketball Association) is one of the most popular professional sports league in the world.
Basketball has had a number of players that have made it popular as a spectator sport including Magic Johnson, Larry bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robinson. Perhaps the most famous and arguably the greatest basketball player of all times is Michael Jordan
Basketball has become popular for a number of reasons:
Basketball is fun to play: Basketball has a very fast and exciting pace to play. Also, each player on the court gets to play both offence and defense and the roles of each player are only loosely defined. Much of basketball easily can be practiced (like shooting or dribbling) with one person making it easy to learn. The sport also is great for one-on-one play all the way to 5-on-5, so you don’t need a big crowd to get a good game going.
Simple equipment: with basketball all you need is a ball and a hoop. Many playgrounds throughout the world (especially in the USA) have hoops making it easy to get a game going with just a ball.
Basketball is an all-weather sport: it is often played outside in parks or in driveways, but is also a winter sport played indoors. So you can play basketball year round.