James Naismith's Original Basketball Rules: Complete Review of '30 for 30'

Darin PikeContributor IOctober 16, 2012

In its most recent episode, ESPN's documentary series, 30 for 30, takes a look at the birth of basketball and its growth at the University of Kansas. "There's No Place Like Home" follows Josh Swade, a dedicated Kansas Jayhawk fan, and his efforts to raise money to purchase the original basketball rules, penned by James Naismith.

The rules went up for sale at Sotheby's auction house in December 2010.

Swade originally sought help from small donors. With an anticipated auction price of several million dollars, it was an uphill battle for Swade. 

The documentary effort is directed by Maura Mandt, whose team began following Swade shortly after his idea's conception. It reveals the frustration of undertaking such a large fundraising effort in a relatively short time frame.

It quickly became clear to Swade that the initial $10 and $25 gifts he was obtaining wouldn't be enough to reach a seven-figure goal in under a month.

He then turned his attention to major Kansas Jayhawk donors.

The real meat of this documentary is in the highs and lows of convincing donors to help the university obtain an article that won't enhance the athletic program or educational environment. There are some surprising stumbling blocks to overcome, but in the end, a few coaches help turn the tide.

On auction day, Swade's prized possession was sold after an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln. That amazing piece of history took in $3,300,000.

The bidding for Naismith's rules went even higher.

A Duke University alumnus had a similar goal, hoping to donate the document to his alma mater's basketball hall of fame. He was bidding against Swade's primary donor, David Booth. 

Naismith founded the game and popularized it as Kansas University's first head coach. Swade and his backers wanted to ensure his original document ended up in Allen Fieldhouse.

The film references a fear of the rules ending up with a basketball team in Russia. I'm sure at least some of Swade's supporters would have been even more horrified had they ended up in Duke's possession.

This film is a must-see for Kansas faithful and college-basketball fans in general.

The rules will be housed in an expansion of the Allen Fieldhouse. It is expected to open for the 2014 season.