James Naismith was the Canadian physical education teacher who invented basketball in 1891. At the time, he was teaching at Springfield College in Springfield Massachusetts. The first formal rules were devised in 1892. Initially, players dribbled a soccer ball up and down a court of unspecified dimensions. Points were earned by landing the ball in a peach basket. Iron hoops and a hammock-style basket were introduced in 1893. Another decade passed before the innovation of open-ended nets put an end to the practice of manually retrieving the ball from the basket each time a goal was scored. In 1959, James Naismith was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (called the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame).
Interesting Fact: U.S. Patent #1,718,305 was granted to G.L. Pierce on June 25, 1929 for the “basketball” used in the game.
(source: About.com Guide)