Beyond the NBA: Exploring Basketball Cultures around the World


Sports have the power to bring people together, Basketball is not any different in this aspect. Whenever the game fever rages, people forget every difference and enjoy the game together. From music to advertisement, fashion to literature, basketball culture influences life in every aspect. Though now embraced by people of all nationalities, basketball is very much an American game.

History of Basketball and How It Evolved as a Culture

 Everything amazing starts with a person passionate about making a positive change or adding value to the lives of the people, basketball was initiated with the same intent. In 1891, a 31-year-old physical education instructor by the name of James Naismith wanted to create an outdoor activity that was physically challenging but very easy to understand. [1]

The Game

historical sketch of women playing basketball

The trainer at YMCA Training School, James was adamant about keeping the players active and not letting the weather decide their fate, so he instructed the helper to provide him with two boxes. Though the helper could not find boxes, he had peach collecting baskets, which he brought.

So, started the game of basketball, from the old peach baskets nailed tightly to the railing on both sides. Unfortunately, the first game was played with so much zeal that most of the players were beaten black and blue, something that James did not foresee.

The Game Gained Fame in America

 Basketball popularity was not overnight, similar to its rules that were developed with time.  But basketball’s importance was immediate and soon it became an important sport in American colleges. By 1946, NBA was formulated as an establishment that became a multibillion-dollar company within a century. Though the game was popular in sports and academic institutions as it became a means to acquire accolades, it gradually became a part of American culture.

The Basketball Went International

Basketball sport is popular among youth

Although basketball is an American game, it soon became famous by the US doughboys during World War I. Many connected it with modernity and America and with YMCA teachers/instructors traveling the world, the game also started to gain fame in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America.

Though it was adored by people of other nations, it was not until 1936, that it was played as an official sport on international platforms. Berlin Games introduced it as a sport in 1936 as it was established as an international sport by FIBA (Fédération International de Basketball). In the true sense, London Games (1948) was when basketball was entirely accepted as a game worth giving global recognition. [2]

 Starting from half-bushel peach baskets to becoming the second most favorite sport, basketball has come a long way but it is not a game anymore, it has become a culture in itself.

Countries Where Basketball Is a Popular Sport:

Countries Where Basketball Is a Popular Sport

Originated from the USA, basketball is now played worldwide, while some enjoy it as a hobby others see it as a professional sport. For many countries it was not so popular unless their countries won accolades in it during the Olympics, an example of this is Argentina [3]

Below is the list of countries rated according to the popularity of basketball and the reason for this popularity. [4]

Ranking Country Reason
1 USA The country where it all started has a popular league, NBA. Furthermore, the college and university leagues add to the popularity of the game.
2 Philippines For Filipinos, basketball is not just a recreational activity but they play it on the professional level as well. After the country was introduced to the game in the 20th century by the Americans, there is no turning back for the natives. One can understand their love for the game by the fact that their men’s national team made it to the third in the FIBA world cup, the only Asian country to make it this big in the sport.


The country has its own league by the name of PBA (Philippine Basket Association.

3 Australia The fact that many Australian players are part of the NBA highlights the country’s interest in the sport. As per the survey, every third of Australians likes basketball. [5]
4 Canada Although the creator of the game was in fact Canadian, basketball is an American game, but the success of the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Championship made Canadians fall in love with the game. It is one of the most played games in colleges and universities.
5 Iraq Sport has a way to reconnect people with each other and make them forget about the turmoil of the world for a time being. Torn by wars and unrest, Iraqis find happiness in the game. They have two major leagues in the country, Iraqi Premier League and Iraq Basketball Association.

Other countries where basketball is played with all the zeal is China, Croatia, Lebanon, Brazil, Russia, Lithuania, Serbia, Italy, France, Greece, and Spain.

Basketball Importance in a Culture

The rage and zeal of the game

Sport has an aura to unite communities, create diversity and promote social integration. Similarly, basketball culture is all about people who are enthusiastic about the game and want to understand its technical details and rules and learn either as a sportsperson or through peers. From teaching everyday life skills like leadership qualities, team building, or positive communication to being a complete mind and body exercise, basketball is not treated only as a sport now. [6]

Basketball Without Borders

In 2001, FIBA and NBA initiated a global program whereby players from all across the globe would gather and impart their skills to the worldwide talent found in every region. So far, more than 3900 campers belonging to 134 countries have benefitted from the initiative. [7] This global outreach program is a fantastic opportunity for upcoming basketball enthusiasts to catch the eye of the worldwide organization who are the forerunners of the sport. If you are one talented basketball player, research how you can participate in this amazing opportunity.

The Influence of Basketball Over the Cultures

What started as a mere game has gone beyond the court lines. From pop culture to music, fashion to literature, basketball and its craze is apparent in all of Americans’ and even international people’s life. The players are not considered as just sportspersons, but they represent the culture of the community they belong to; therefore, their influence can impact even social causes as well. From Michael Jordan, and LeBron James to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the sport celebrates diversity and promotes cultural integration, making it the second most liked global sport.

What makes the game all the more unique is how it influences social justice, community participation, and the players’ involvement with their communities. They are more than just cultural icons or sportspersons, they regularly raise their voice over social atrocities, inequality, and social injustice, ensuring that their position can help bring a positive change.

Basketball and Fashion

Sneakers and their popularity due to basketball game

The basketball players are considered style icons as well, with mostly preferring to be clad in designer wear, they have become a symbol of athletes with style. However, that was not always the case. Their casual, freestyle inspired hip hop culture was not liked by David Stern who was the commissioner at the time. The baggy pants and oversized tees that are so popular now were once frowned upon for being too casual.

The Stringent Fashion Rules

The commissioner, with his strict dress code policy in 2005 tried to ban the fashion followed by the athlete, so he did not allow anyone to wear sunglasses, shorts, sleeveless shirts, or heavy jewelry like chains. He tried to make them follow the business dress code, which was too formal or corporate-like to fit an athlete off the court. He was so adamant about changing their fashion sense that he fined anyone who dared to voice their opinion or did not follow the rule, the reason why David West, Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson, and Paul Pierce had to pay $10000 every time they did not go with the atrocious dress code.

From Being Questioned to Becoming the Style Icon

While the rules regarding out-of-courtroom dress codes were bizarre, a fun fact about basketball players is that many were determined to change the fashion game for good. From being questioned about their styles to becoming the fashion divas everyone wanted to follow, basketball players have shown how you live life on your terms and do what you think is good for you, not relying on rules to dictate your freedom. Soon their free-spirited style caught the eye of Aime Leon Dore, Eric Emanuel, and John Elliot and it forever changed the street style of America. [8]

From printed shorts to colorful jerseys, sweatpants to hoodies, and sneakers with neon hues or black-gray tones, taking inspiration from LeBron, the fashion game was suddenly about colors and free expression. Some basketball players who are considered fashion gurus for their styles are LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul.

The Game and the Movies

The hoop that matters

 It is a well-established fact that basketball is very much an American game, no wonder then that the sport is always celebrated in movies and shows in one way or another. From highlighting social ills that can become a part and parcel of many sports as highlighted in Basketball diaries, to exhibiting how a sport can bring determination in people and that every individual is talented and only needs to be guided as shown in The Air Up There, the media has utilized the potential of the sport in shedding light on all things that matter.

Any basketball fan should take time out to watch these fantastic flicks related to basketball, not only are they entertaining, you will learn a trick or two or will be socially more aware with respect to the sport and society. [9]

1- White Men Can’t Jump

2- Blue Chips

3- Coach Carter

4- Space Jam

5- Hoop Dreams

6- Above The Rim

The Hip-hop and Basketball Connection Since Time Immemorial

Music and basketball players have an unspoken relationship, mainly hip-hop. Hip-Hop is the music of free-spirited people and fun, no wonder basketball players resonate well with it for having a larger-than-life attitude toward lives.

Though when basketball and hip-hop got connected is not known but back in the 1980s, Kurtis Blow mentioned some basketball players in his song Basketball which intrigued many people for its lyrics. [10] Not only that but the game is often referred to as a medium to come forth and catch the limelight through hard work and determination by not caring about the hindrances. Furthermore, music has a way of inspiring players to keep working harder and be on the way to success through consistency, no wonder many players have songs related to basketball in their playlists that remind them to remain steadfast with their game.

Basketball and Social Causes

One interesting fact about basketball is that 75% of the players are black, yet the sport believes in diversity and cultural synergism, that is why in 2001, NBA and FIBA collaborated to start Basketball Beyond Borders. This initiative was accepted with open arms for promoting real talent and allowing people from all walks of life to be part of it. Not only did this initiative encourage the prospective players to take their game seriously as it now has become all the more competitive, yet far-reaching too with such initiatives.

One thing about basketball worth noting is the players’ engagement in social causes and raising voices for vulnerable communities. The Black Lives Matter movement gained considerable attention as the players have an influence on the people and they ensure that the influence is utilized for positive purposes only. Their strive to go beyond play to make people aware of the social inequality and injustice exhibits how they are not just basketball players but the inspiration for the younger generation as well.

5 Basketball Facts for Every Sport’s Fan

5 Basketball Facts for Every Sport’s Fan

What started as a way to kill boredom, has become the national favourite game for all the right reasons. Here are 5 interesting facts about basketball, that you certainly did not know of.

why the color orange?

 1- Initially, the number of players per team was not decided, though the first time it was played in Springfield, they were 18 in total, nine on each side.

 2- The watches were used by the referees to keep time, but how was it possible without a clock measuring time in seconds back then? [11]

 3- It was not until 1976 that women’s basketball was introduced in the Olympics tournament.

 4- The orange of the ball is for a reason, to allow it to not blend in with the players and easy to be spotte. [12]

 5- The longest basketball game ever played was 78 minutes. It was played on 6th January 1951 by Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians. [13]


The game has ruled and is ruling the hearts of many within America and abroad too, the reason why it is part of many school/college sports as well. One of the fun facts about basketball for kids is that until 1976, slam dunks were not allowed, reason? [14] Well, they did not want the players to get injured often.

While the sport is now a multimillion-dollar business, basketball is not a game anymore, it has become a culture embraced by people from every region, accepting it for uniting communities and showing how players are more than just sportspersons. From black lives matter to social disparity, the sport has become a medium to highlight the social ills that are often tried to be shoved under the carpet by society, but not anymore.


[1] Here’s the history of basketball—from peach baskets in Springfield to global phenomenon. (2021, March 27). National Geographic.

[2] Basketball culture: Discover the phenomenon that’s more than just a game! (2023, June 9). Basketball Mentality.

[3]Sportsver Team. (2021, August 26). 15 countries where basketball is popular (Worldwide!). Sportsver.

[4] Basketball popularity. (n.d.). Topend Sports | The Sports Fitness, Nutrition and Science Resource.

[5] (n.d.). Online Registration & Sports Management Software – GameDay.

[6] Ojeagbase, S. (2023, June 8). Basketball’s global reach: Exploring the growth and popularity of the sport worldwide. Complete Sports.

[7] (n.d.). Homepage -.

[8] Projects, O. (2022, December 5). Basketball’s influence on fashion. OFFSEASON PROJECTS.

[9] Fray, J. (2012, January 26). Ranking the top 10 basketball movies. Bleacher Report.

[10] ‘Like poetry’: How basketball and hip hop are intertwined. (2021, February 5). The Eyeopener | Toronto Metropolitan University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1967.

[11] Taylor, R. (2017, July 6). 7 facts you didn’t know about basketball. Red Bull.

[12] Ferguson, B. (2023, May 30). 23 FUN facts about basketball that will amaze you! Fun Facts About.

[13] 50 interesting facts about basketball. (2022, July 24). The Fact File.

[14] Basketball facts for kids. (n.d.). Kids encyclopedia facts.


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