Hoopla! The inventor of basketball returns -- via hologram

A holographic version of Dr. James Naismith makes a cameo appearance to talk hoops during the NBA's tech summit.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

The inventor of basketball made a guest appearance at an NBA event on Friday, scoring a swish 125 years after he created the sport.

Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian educator who developed hoops as a wintertime sport while teaching in New England, popped up as a hologram in Toronto during the NBA's All-Star Technology Summit. A 3D-esque image of Naismith holding a basketball stepped out of a vintage photo and shared his thoughts on the game he pioneered in 1891.

He even chatted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

"I thought [my students] might like it," Naismith's hologram said of the sport. "But I couldn't imagine how the world would love it."

"So true, Dr. Naismith," Silver replied.

Naismith's holographic appearance is the latest in the increasingly popular practice of using computer-generated images of departed celebrities at concerts and events. Fans at the popular Coachella music festival went crazy in 2012 when a hologram of the late rapper-actor Tupac Shakur took the stage next to fellow rhymers Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Two years later, a hologram of pop superstar Michael Jackson sang and danced during the Billboard Music Awards.


Basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith stands in a field carrying a ball and a peach basket.

© Bettmann/CORBIS

To tip off it's All-Star Game festivities, the NBA paid a techie homage to Naismith, who went on to found the University of Kansas basketball team after developing the game in Springfield, Massachusetts, using peach baskets for hoops. His premise was simple: shoot a round ball in the opposing team's peach basket. Naismith would eventually see the game evolve into an official sport in the Olympics in 1936 before his death in 1939.

The NBA, whose teams face a trade deadline on Thursday, is now a global phenomenon. Stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard are known around the world.

Obviously, basketball has become more technologically advanced since Naismith invented the game. NBA games are played in fancy arenas with Jumbotrons showing scores and highlights. There's a 24-second shot clock above the backboard, and referees use instant replay to determine the outcome of key plays during the game. Teams also use tech to assess player development and help treat injuries.

We've come quite a long way since those peach baskets.

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