Basketball background: Texas A&M student has a legal goal

March 18, 2019

by Rick Mauch, FWBP Contributor
Originally published in the Fort Worth Business Press
Republished with permission

Lora NaismithLora Naismith, Texas A&M University School of Law student, great-great-granddaughter of Dr. James Naismith

What's in a name? Well, when your great-great grandfather invented one of the most popular games on the face of the planet, a name can make folks take notice.

Such is the case with Lora Naismith, 23. Yes, her great-great grandfather is the man who invented basketball, Dr. James Naismith.

"I have never been particularly good at basketball, never been very coordinated," Lora Naismith said. "But I did play when I was 7 in a small church league. However, I enjoy watching the sport and playing in a non-competitive setting — like HORSE."

Naismith, from Corpus Christi, is hoping to make her fame in the realm of law. She is a student at the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth.

"I went to Texas A&M University for my undergrad degree [bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Spanish]. I took a year off from school to work and travel [backpack through Europe], and during that year I started digging into what I really wanted to pursue," she said. "I found my love for research and helping people would be an ideal skill set for a legal career, and after meeting with several lawyers, professors and professionals in various fields I decided law school was something I wanted to pursue.

Lora Naismith IP quote"Texas A&M School of Law here in Fort Worth was a good choice for me because it was in Texas so I could stay close to my family, and they have one of the best intellectual property programs in the nation."

Naismith is particularly interested in international intellectual property law.

"I love traveling and experiencing new places and cultures, and I am fascinated by how all of the different types of law in different countries work in relation to other countries," she said. "As for intellectual property, I think both the concept of non-tangible property and the ownership of ideas are interesting, and it seems like a big puzzle to solve. Who gets what and why?"

Naismith said that while she was not adept at basketball, the sport does have a strong history in her family.

"Because of the relation, all of my cousins have played basketball at some point in their lives, and we’ve played a couple of Naismith vs. Naismith pickup games when we all get together for holidays," she said. "Since my grandfather retired, he’s been going to more events centered around basketball and has acted somewhat as the spokesperson for the family."

And though she's never considered herself a sports fan, she has recently been drawn to professional basketball, thanks to her younger brother.

"He would tell me to say my favorite team is the Spurs, but I’m going to have to say my favorite professional team is the Dallas Mavericks," Naismith said. "My family was recently invited to the game between the Mavericks and the Beijing Ducks, which was the first preseason game this season.

"My grandpa was presented with a signed jersey as my family watched courtside. We then got to see the locker room and I even high-fived Mark Cuban."

naismith family
Photo courtesy of Lora Naismith
Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, practicing with his wife Maude in 1928.

Naismith did her homework on her great-great grandfather when she was younger — literally.

Lora Naismith basketball quote"I actually did a research project on the invention of basketball when I was in middle school, and I certainly had an unfair advantage when it came to sources," she said with a chuckle. "The story of how basketball was invented was akin to a bedtime story when we were with my grandparents."

James Naismith was born in Canada in 1861 and worked as a university sports coach. He moved to the United States in 1891 and wanted to create a game that could be played indoors during the harsh winters in Massachusetts. He was inspired by a game he played as a child called duck on a rock, which was basically throwing stones at another elevated stone to try to knock it off while others guarded it.

Dr. James Naismith
Photo courtesy of Lora Naismith
Dr. James Naismith

For goals he nailed up two peach baskets on opposite sides of an indoor gymnasium, 10 feet off the ground. He wrote the original 13 rules and modified them after a few games were played. They have been modified even more since then. He later earned a medical degree but continued coaching college basketball as the sport grew in the early 20th century.

Naismith also offered a few fun facts about her famous great-great grandfather.

"He preferred rugby to basketball, and he was only 5-11," she said.

"The original rules sold for over $4 million in auction, and they were donated to the University of Kansas. The proceeds went to a humanitarian organization, the James Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

"The first time basketball was played in the Olympics was in 1936 in Berlin, and Dr. James Naismith threw the ball to begin the game."