The great American game of basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891 using peach baskets in a Massachusetts YMCA–so the story goes anyway. But in yet another case of American culture traveling far and wide, the game swiftly made its way to Europe as one of the YMCA counselors left to work in Paris, France. There the young transport set up some fruit baskets of his own at the Paris Y, where the parquet floor became an early precursor to the now famous parquet floor in the Boston Garden. The first basketball game in Paris took place in 1893, just two years after the first American game, according to AltaObscura. Some support poles run through the middle of the Parisian court, but that’s just all the better for practicing the pick and roll.
It took more than a hundred years, but France paid back its cultural debt. Two of the most riveting players on last year’s NBA champion San Antonio Spurs hail from France. Frenchmen Tony Parker and Boris Diaw have made basketball’s journey to Paris a round-trip affair.