FIBA History

Although Dr. James Naismith is recognized for inventing the game of basketball in December 1891, it wasn't until June 18, 1932, in Geneva, Switzerland that an international federation concerned with just basketball was formed.

Then, less than three years later on February 28, 1935, the International Basketball Federation (FIBB) was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) helping clear the way for men's basketball to become part of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games.

Actually, the first international body to claim jurisdiction over the sport of basketball was the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), which in 1926 formed a special commission to govern all ball games played with the hands, such as field-handball, court-handball, volleyball and basketball.

Two years later during the Games of the IXth Olympiad held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the IAAF invited representatives from various national associations to consider the forming of an independent body to govern all ball games played with hands. Representatives from 10 countries met in Amsterdam on August 4, 1928 and decided to form the International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF).

Although the IAHF Technical Commission for Basketball was created to direct and control the game of basketball, it never once met. Six years after being formed, the IAHF Technical Commission for Basketball was dissolved and on September 1, 1934 the IAHF renounced its international control over basketball to the International Basketball Federation (FIBB).

The forefather of today's FIBA, the establishment and recognition of FIBB was no easy task.

After several failed attempts to establish an independent international federation for just basketball, the first International Basketball Conference was held June 18, 1932. It was at this conference that FIBB was formed with eight national basketball associations among the original founders of FIBB -- Argentina, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Switzerland.

As the popularity of basketball grew, so did the number of FIBB's member nations. By the end of 1934, Austria, Belgium, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the United States had joined, raising FIBB's membership number to 17 nations. By the time of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, FIBB's membership had expanded to include 32 nations, 23 of which sent basketball teams to the first Olympic basketball competition in Berlin.

While FIBA's membership and its international rules have changed over the years, perhaps the biggest change within FIBA occurred April 8, 1989. At an extraordinary FIBA World Congress in Munich, West Germany, FIBA's membership voted overwhelmingly (56-13) in favor of open competition, eliminating the distinction between amateur and professional and making all players eligible for FIBA competitions, including players competing in the NBA.

Consequently, for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, USA Basketball assembled a men's Olympic team of monumental abilities. Tagged the "Dream Team," the USA Olympic team consisted of 11 NBA players and one collegian. The U.S. squad not only grabbed the world's attention, but the Olympic gold medal as well.

The abbreviation FIBA, was originally derived from the french term Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur. The word Amateur was dropped in 1989 after the distinction between amateurs and professionals was eliminated, The "A" in FIBA was however left and FIBA is now recognized as standing for International Basketball Federation.

The Federation headquarters moved to Munich in 1956, then returned to Geneva, Switzerland in 2002. Patrick Baumann was named in 2002 as the FIBA Secretary General. The growth of international basketball has continued and in 2008 FIBA boasted of 213 member nations.

FIBA itself is divided into five regional zones: FIBA Africa (consisting of 53 National Federations), FIBA Americas (consisting of 44 National Federations), FIBA Asia (consisting of 44 National Federations), FIBA Europe (consisting of 51 National Federations), and FIBA Oceania (consisting of 21 National Federations).

USA Basketball is a member of the FIBA Americas Zone, formerly known as the Confederation of Pan American Basketball Associations (COPABA).