A Timeline Of Chicago Basketball

Like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, when we think of basketball in Chicago we think of Michael Jordan.  No offense to MJ, but not only does that ignore the fact that he was a transplant from New York, but also disregards Chicago's rich basketball history that can be traced back before there were fifty stars on the American flag. 

The history and culture were huge factors in bringing up players like Dwayne Wade, George Mikan, Derrick Rose, Kevin Garnett, and many other greats.  Playing ball on the concrete in the summer and the hardwood in the winter made up the majority of their life, and is/was their career.  Though basketball was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, it was definitely adopted and raised in Chicago, Illinois.   


1893: Just a year and three months after the sport was invented, Chicago's first basketball league was formed by a group of YMCA teams.

1895: The Austin High girl’s team competed against college squads without modified rules for girls.  December 18, 1896, they met Oak Park in the first interscholastic high-school basketball contest in Illinois.

January 18, 1896: The University of Chicago competed in their first intercollegiate five-man squad competition.  The final score was University of Chicago 15, University of Iowa 12.

1899: Englewood High formed the first permanent high school boy’s team.

1900-1909: The University of Chicago held and astounding 72-12 record. Basketball’s popularity in Chicago spread like wildfire during this time period.

1926: The Harlem Globetrotters were formed in the south side of Chicago. Originally called the Savoy Big Five, the founder Abe Saperstein changed the name to align his all-black team with the era's hub of African-American culture. 

1944-45: George Mikan, the original “Mr. Basketball,” won NCAA player of the year back-to-back while attending DePaul University. His dominant performances led to the creation of the shot clock, widening the lane from 6 feet to 12 feet, 3 second rule, and goaltending violations.  

1966: The Chicago Bulls were founded and became the city's most enduring pro-basketball team. Past franchises include the Chicago Bruins (1925-31, 1939-42), American Gears (1944-45), Chicago Stags (1946-50) and The Chicago Packers (1961-62).

December 9, 1978: The Chicago Hustle beat the Milwaukee Does in the first-ever professional women's basketball game.                      

January 17, 1982: Dwayne Wade was born on the south side of Chicago, and eventually attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn. Wade became one of the city's premier sports exports as a 3-time NBA Champion and 12-time All-Star.

1991: Michael Jordan led the Bulls to their first NBA Championship. In Jordan's time with the Bulls, he garnered 6 NBA Championships, 5 league and 6 final MVP nods, 10 scoring titles and his very own statue. He also gave the world Space Jam.

2008: Simeon Career Academy alumnus Derrick Rose was drafted first overall by the Chicago Bulls. Rose became the first rookie to win the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend and earned '08 Rookie of the Year and '11 MVP honors. 

2012: Anthony Davis, Chicago's latest hardwood phenom, had a year filled with milestones. He won the NCAA Championship with the Kentucky Wildcats, took home Olympic Gold as a member of Team USA and was picked first overall at the NBA Draft. 

2014: The World Basketball Festival was held in Chicago for first the time, which gave Chicago-born players some more bragging rights. Not that they needed it, with accolades that include two Olympic gold medals, three NCAA titles, 19 first-round draft picks, 24 National Championship rings and 52 All-Star Selections.