Basketball History

NAIA & Kansas City in Basketball

Excerpts from's article, Today I Learned: Basketball in KC (03/07/2017)

Basketball in Kansas City is more than just another sport—it’s a regional pastime. Take, for example, James Naismith, innovator and inventor of basketball in 1891 and University of Kansas’s first coach. The Jayhawks played their first actual game in KC in 1899 against a YMCA team called the Tigers (no relation to Mizzou) at 8th and Wyandotte. The team featured Pete Allen (younger brother of Forrest “Phog” Allen) and a one Jesse James Jr., son of the infamous outlaw himself, who was said to have played a “rough and at times very ungentlemanly game.” Regardless of its roots (and James Jr.’s aggressive play), basketball has thrived in KC for more than 100 years.

The sport took off in the area soon after its creation, thanks in part to the arrival of the NAIA’s National College Basketball Tournament. Kicked off in 1937, the competition is college basketball’s longest running tournament. KC saw its fair share of history, as well. In 1957, Tennessee State became the first historically black college to win a national college basketball championship. Twenty-three years later, the NAIA became the first collegiate association to hold championships for women’s athletics. Read the full article.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO


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