Big Game, Small World
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O N E : Almonte, Ontario
PHOTO BY: NAISMITH MUSEUM & HALL OF FAME, ALMONTE ONTARIOIt’s fairly well-known that basketball was invented by a Canadian. It’s less well-known that the first NBA game took place in Toronto, in 1946—and that every paying customer received, gratis, a lump of coal.

I begin the book with a pilgrimage to Doc Naismith’s birthplace in Almonte, about 30 minutes outside Ottawa. Since my visit, the Naismith Foundation has moved to Almonte’s old Town Hall, where director John Gosset looks forward to welcoming visitors.

To come up with basketball’s original 13 rules, Naismith was inspired by a children’s game called "duck on a rock." It involved knocking a stone off a large rock by pelting that stone with smaller ones. Pictured here is the original rock on which Naismith placed his childhood ducks.

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TWO: LITHUANIA

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