All NBA courts are made of maple wood, which is strong but also flexible, to help players jump and land safely.
Practically everything about basketball – including the ball itself – has changed since that first game at Springfield, Massachusetts, in December 1891. James Naismith, in his first year as a graduate instructor at what was then the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School, thought it would work best to use a soccer ball for his new indoor sport.
The gymnasium in the five-year-old Christian Workers Building, now the site of a McDonald's, had a 49ft x 41ft floor and had been equipped with all kinds of gymnastics equipment – parallel bars and flying rings, plus dumbbells and climbing ropes, according to a 2009 study of the building by Springfield College, which the school became known as in 1954.
And not insignificantly, the gymnasium also had a floor of hard, or rock, maple. From about the mid-1800s onward, maple flooring was popular because the wood was plentiful, so it was also inexpensive, but it was also durable and more stable. Maple flooring is harder than red oak, black walnut, or cherry flooring, and its tight grain made it easier to clean and maintain.
Since it was invented in 1891, almost everything about basketball has changed. But one constant is the maple flooring – hard, durable, and beautiful to look at.