Basketball in Germany?
Enlarge image Basketball fans at the Bundesliga Playoffs (© picture alliance / dpa) Basketball is becoming increasingly popular in Germany. This is due in part to Germany’s most famous player, Dallas Mavericks’ forward and NBA 2007 MVP Dirk Nowitzki, as well as the eighteen professional German teams that are drawing new fans to the sport.
The first basketball games were played using a soccer ball and two peach baskets as goals, according to the thirteen rules developed by creator Dr. Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. This new sport was designed to be a game of skill and it became immensely popular in the US.
Enlarge image German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki in action during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. (© picture-alliance/ dpa) The International Basketball Federation was founded in 1932, but Germany was not among the first eight European nations. The Germans first joined the game in the 1950s. This is how they made their start in the game, according to the website of the German Basketball Federation (Deutscher Basketball Bund):
“Germany first appeared in the European basketball scenario in the 1951 Eurobasket (European basketball championships) held in Paris, where they finished 12th among 18 teams. Until the 1990 reunification of Germany, basketball in West Germany never met with any spectacular success. The East Germans never had any interest for the game.
“In a stunning turn of events Germany won the 1993 European Championship on home ground and was also elected Team of the Year by the national press. This sparked new enthusiasm for the sport in the country which gradually waned due to lack of infrastructure and professionalism. Interests were renewed when a lanky Dirk Nowitzki went on to become a superstar with the Dallas Mavericks. He raised basketball in Germany to new standards by facilitating a bronze medal in the 2002 World Championships.”
Additional highlights in German basketball history include the victory at the European Championship of 1993, which took place in Germany; the silver medal at the 2005 European Championships; and the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championship.
Enlarge image Brose Baskets Bamberg's Casey Jacobsen is greeted by fans at the semifinal of the Bundesliga Playoffs. (© picture alliance / Eibner-Presse) The German Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), which was founded in 1939, is the highest level basketball club competition in Germany. It is comprised of eighteen teams that compete for the title of national champion. While the Bayer Giants Leverkusen remain championship record holder with 14 titles, Brose Baskets Bamberg took the title in 2010. Having already won in 2005 and 2007, this marks their third national championship win. The team previously won the Champions Cup, achieving the "German double" for the first time in league history. Brose Baskets forward Casey Jacobsen, an American who previously played for the Phoenix Suns and Stanford University, was named MVP in 2010.
The American connection to basketball in Germany is still quite strong. Many teams recruit professional basketball players from American universities, and a number of Germans also attend university and play at the college level in the US.