NBA 3-Point Line History: How it Changed the Game

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Are you curious about how the NBA 3-point line came into existence? Do you want to know why it is needed? If either of these questions speaks to your curiosity, you are in the right place.

Night after night, we watch NBA players shoot from the three-point line. We get excited as we remember watching players like Steph Curry, Ray Allen, Kyle Korver, and other 3-point legends shoot from this infamous line. However, this line was only introduced a small number of years ago.

This article will go in-depth about the history of the 3-point line. We will include an abundance of information like how far it is and who invented it. We will also give NBA history as far as who holds the most 3-point shots in NBA history.

Sit back and enjoy reading this rewind through NBA history.

Why was the 3-Point Line InventedWhy was the 3-Point Line Invented?

The three-point line was invented because it was said to give smaller players a better chance at scoring. It was also stated that it makes the games more enjoyable to watch. This was the notion presented by the ABA’s commissioner George Mikan. 

The three-point line was first thought of as a gimmick, something to get the fans going and get them excited for the game. However, the players and coaches had a hard time accepting the change. This ultimately meant changing the way that players play and covering a larger span of the court. Some coaches simply wanted them to leave the game alone. 

The 3-point line is nothing like it once was. In the beginning, it was used as an attraction to get people aroused at the game. Coaches also saw it as a weapon that they could use when they were losing or in trouble. Within its first season of use, players used no more than three shot attempts a game.

The three-point line is now a staple in professional basketball. Basketball fans sit on the edge of their seats whenever a shot is hit from the infamous line. It creates excitement in arenas and homes like never before. 

Who Invented the 3-Point LineWho Invented the 3-Point Line?

When talking about who invented the three-point line, basketball history gets hazy. There are several stories about the 3-point line’s creation and where it originated from. One thing is for sure; it was not invented initially with the game of basketball. 

Before its mainstream adoption by the NBA, the 3-point line was used in the American Basketball League. It’s first use being in 1961. However, this time was short-lived due to the ABL’s short life. Soon after, the ABA, the American Basketball Association, started to use the 3-point line again. The ABA’s introduction forced players and coaches to think about basketball differently. 

When was the 3 Point Line Introduced in The NBAWhen was the 3 Point Line Introduced in The NBA?

Even with the NBA’s mergers with the ABA, in the beginning, they were firm with their intentions of not including the 3-point line and sticking to NBA traditions. The NBA later came around in 1979. The three-point line was first introduced in the NBA during the 1979-1980 season. 

When was the 3 Point Line Introduced in The NBA

This also happened to be the rookie season of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The first game in which a 3-point shot happened was October 12, 1979. This shot was made by Chris Ford, who belonged to the Boston Celtics at the time. 

When was the 3 Point Line Introduced in The NCAAWhen was the 3 Point Line Introduced In The NCAA?

The 3-point line was first introduced into the NCAA in 1987. It made its debut during Division I Men’s basketball. It was approximately 19 feet and 9 inches from the middle of the basket. The 3-point line distance was later pushed back to 20 feet and 9 inches. Its latest move will take place in 2020 to 22 feet and 1.75 inches. 

Slowly but surely, the 3-point line became a staple on basketball courts across the globe and has revolutionized the way that basketball is played. 

How Far is a 3-Point Line from BasketHow Far is a 3-Point Line from Basket?

This may be the question which you are most curious about. The three-point line can vary depending on the league that you play for or where you are playing. The 3-point distance on the NBA court is an area that has “parallel lines 3′ from the sidelines, extending from the baseline and an arc of 23’9” from the basket’s middle. You will notice that the NBA and its subsequent G league have the most significant distance from the basket in comparison to other leagues.

The 3-point line has seen significant changes over the years. Each league boasts a different size basket. Women’s NCAA basketball’s 3-point line sits at a 19-foot, 9-inch line.

The FIBA, Fédération Internationale de Basketball, uses a three-point line, which is 22.15 feet from the hoop.

What's the Difference Between College and NBA 3- Point LineWhat’s the Difference Between College and NBA 3-Point Line?

Each league tends to have a different measure from the basket to the 3-point line. This distance has been tested and changes by several leagues over the years, including the NBA. Many coaches attest these distance changes to freedom of movement and not want to crowd the basket. 

The NBA and the NCAA have notable differences in their court sizes and the dimensions on the court. Several of their rule differences include things like game time, the shot clocks, fouls, and of course, the three-point line. 

This is ultimately a point of contention when players begin the transition to the professional league. The NCAA 3-point line sits at 22 feet, 1¾ inches from the court’s basket. This is at the centermost point. It is 21.7 and 7/8 inches from the corner of the court. 

What's the Difference Between College and NBA 3-Point Line

The NBA has the furthest 3-point line of any league, making it the most challenging for some players. However, if you are coming from the NCAA, there are several rule changes for you to get accustomed to outside of this one. Though it will be new at first, players will adapt just as they did at lower levels of their careers. 

How Did the 3-Point Shot Become So PopularHow Did the 3-Point Shot Become So Popular?

Many people thought he the introduction of the 3-point line was nothing more than a quick gimmick to fill seats. It brought something entertaining to the game. However, behind the scenes, coaches and players were not happy. 

No one could have guessed that the game of basketball would be played or structured the way that it is today. Throughout the years, it has evolved, making it more entertaining and also making it more challenging. It has forced players to change the way they think on the court and how they use it strategically. 

Older players like Louie Dampier from the ABA league were a small player, only coming in at 6 feet. He knew that he needed to be able to make long-range shots. As a smaller player, he could not be expected to shoot over larger players. Therefore, he made quick shots from long range. During his second and third seasons in the ABA, he was able to score 199 and 198 three-pointers. This further polarized the three-point line.

How exciting is it to watch your favorite player sink a basket at the back of the court? Your insides scream as you anticipate if it’s going to go in or not. When the ball goes in, the crowd erupts with joy. Three-point shots are a fantastic sight to see in all games. 

Teams like the Harlem Globetrotters thrive on the theatrics of basketball. They make these 3-point shots for the sheer enjoyment of the viewers. They are also even talking about putting in a 4-point line.

The players can feel the adrenaline pumping through the crowd, and it only makes them want to shoot more. Players like Steph Curry and Clay Thompson are known for shooting three-point shots, and people come from far and wide to see them play. 

Who Holds the Most Number of 3-Points in Basketball HistoryWho Holds the Most Number of 3-Points in Basketball History?

As the three-point line begins to get more popular, coaches began to use it as a strategy, rather than a weapon on the court. We now see players not only using it more frequently but attacking it ferociously. Having the highest number of 3-point shots is now a record that a rookie player can aspire to beat if they are that good at hitting shots from this line. 

Ray Allen, a 1996 round 1 draft pick to the Milwaukee Bucks, holds the record for the highest number of 3-point shots made. He has made 2,973 three-pointers in his basketball career. Ray Allen started his NBA career with the Bucks and went on to play with several other teams including the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He ended his NBA career in 2014. 

Coming up behind him is Reggie Miller, who has scored 2,560 three-point shots. Miller retired in 2005 from his NBA Career, which he played entirely with the Indiana Pacers. Though these two have retired, Active player Stephen Curry can take over both records if his seasons continue to progress as they do. 

Who Holds the Most Number of 3-Points in Basketball History

The 3-point line has become a staple in the way that players play basketball. As it has become more popular and players continue to get skilled in making these shots, coaches now realize the impact that it could have on a game. These three-point superstars are changing the way basketball is played; you can no longer stick to the age-old fundamentals. 

In recent years the three-point shot has begun to demand a place on the court. More and more, it is being worked into the offensive strategies of teams. Although Ray Allen may hold the record for most 3-point shots made, that can all change tomorrow in the current basketball climate. 

Wrapping Things Up: Key Takeaways

You’d be lying if you said that you didn’t enjoy watching a basketball player escape from around his opponent to shoot a three-point shot from the back of the court. It’s risky; it’s rapid and its pure entertainment. This is what people thought about the 3-point shot and the 3-point line when it was first introduced into the NBA in 1979.

Though many players and even coaches were opposed, it was a part of the game that would soon stick. These shots were used as a weapon, in the beginning, only pulling the trick out when needed. However, they soon became a staple in the way basketball is played across the globe.

Contrary to what many people may know, the 3-point line has continued to evolve with the game of basketball. For example, NCAA has moved the Men’s three-point line once already, and it was recently moved again for the 2019-2020 season. No distance is set in stone, the NBA and other leagues have moved their three-point lines as well.

The three-point line was a change for not only players and coaches but fans as well. Many individuals who were set in the pure fundamentals of basketball’s original structure had to come to recognize the 3-point line as a staple in the game. It is a staple that has and will continue to win the hearts of people all over the world. 

If you found this post helpful, check out our other posts on basketball FAQ here

> Why Basketball is the Best Sport?

> What are the Basic Rules of Basketball?

> How High is an NBA Basketball Hoop?

> What is the Nature of Basketball?

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