American Basketball Association

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American Basketball Association (ABA)
American Basketball Association (shield).gif
Logo ABA
SportBasketball
Founded1967
No. of teams11
CountryUSA
ContinentFIBA Americas (Americas)
Ceased1976
Last champion(s)New York Nets (2nd title)
Most titlesIndiana Pacers (3 titles)
 
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American Basketball Association (ABA)
American Basketball Association (shield).gif
Logo ABA
SportBasketball
Founded1967
No. of teams11
CountryUSA
ContinentFIBA Americas (Americas)
Ceased1976
Last champion(s)New York Nets (2nd title)
Most titlesIndiana Pacers (3 titles)

The original American Basketball Association (ABA) was a major-league professional basketball league founded in 1967. The ABA ceased to exist with the ABA–NBA merger in 1976.

League history[edit]

The original ABA was founded in 1967, competing with the well-established National Basketball Association, until the ABA–NBA merger in 1976. According to one of the owners of the Indiana Pacers, its goal was to force a merger with the more established league. Potential investors were told that they could get an ABA team for half of what it cost to get an NBA expansion team at the time. When the merger occurred, ABA officials said their investment would more than double.[1]

Ultimately, four ABA teams were absorbed into the older league: the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. Two other clubs, the Kentucky Colonels, and the Spirits of St. Louis, were disbanded upon the merger. A third, the Virginia Squires, had folded less than a month earlier, missing out on the opportunities that a merger might have provided.

The ABA distinguished itself from its older counterpart with a more wide-open, flashy style of offensive play, as well as differences in rules - a 30-second shot clock (as opposed to the NBA's 24-second clock, though the ABA did switch to the 24 second shot clock for the 1975-76 season) and use of a three-point field goal arc. Also, the ABA used a colorful red, white and blue ball, instead of the NBA's traditional orange ball. The ABA also had several "regional" franchises, such as the Virginia Squires and Carolina Cougars, that played "home" games in several cities.

The ABA also cleverly went after four of the best referees in the NBA: Earl Strom, John Vanak, Norm Drucker and Joe Gushue, getting them to "jump" leagues by offering them far more in money and benefits. In Earl Strom's memoir Calling the Shots, Strom conveys both the heady sense of being courted by a rival league with money to burn—and also the depression that set in the next year when he began refereeing in the ABA, with less prominent players performing in inadequate arenas, in front of very small crowds. Nevertheless, the emergence of the ABA boosted the salaries of referees just as it did the salaries of players.

The freewheeling style of the ABA eventually caught on with fans, but the lack of a national television contract and protracted financial losses would spell doom for the ABA as an independent circuit. In 1976, its last year of existence, the ABA pioneered the now-popular slam dunk contest at its all-star game in Denver.

One of the more significant long-term contributions of the ABA to professional basketball was to tap into markets in the southeast that had been collegiate basketball hotbeds (including North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky). The NBA was focused on the urban areas of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. At the time, it showed no interest in placing a team south of Washington, D.C.

Commissioners[edit]

NBA great George Mikan was the first commissioner of the ABA, where he introduced both the 3-point line and the league's trademark red, white and blue basketball.[3] Mikan resigned in 1969. Dave DeBusschere, one of the stars of the New York Knicks championship teams, moved from his job as Vice President and GM of the ABA's New York Nets in 1975 to become the last commissioner of the ABA and facilitate the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.[4]

Teams[edit]

Of the original 11 teams, only the Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers remained for all nine seasons without relocating, changing team names, or folding. However, the Denver Larks/Rockets/Nuggets, a team that had originally been assigned to Kansas City, Missouri, moved to Denver without playing a game in Kansas City due to the lack of a suitable arena. In addition to the four surviving ABA teams, eight current NBA markets have ABA heritage: Utah, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, Memphis, and Charlotte all had an ABA team before the NBA arrived.

List of ABA championships[edit]

YearWestern Division championGamesEastern Division championPlayoffs MVP
1967–68New Orleans Buccaneers3–4Pittsburgh PipersConnie Hawkins C, Pittsburgh
1968–69Oakland Oaks4–1Indiana PacersWarren Jabali G, Oakland
1969–70Los Angeles Stars2–4Indiana PacersRoger Brown F/G, Indiana
1970–71Utah Stars4–3Kentucky ColonelsZelmo Beaty C, Utah
1971–72Indiana Pacers4–2New York NetsFreddie Lewis G, Indiana
1972–73Indiana Pacers4–3Kentucky ColonelsGeorge McGinnis F/C, Indiana
1973–74Utah Stars1–4New York NetsJulius Erving F, New York
1974–75Indiana Pacers1–4Kentucky ColonelsArtis Gilmore C, Kentucky

With the ABA cut down to seven teams by the middle of its final season, the league abandoned divisional play.

YearWinnerGamesRunners-upPlayoffs MVP
1975–76New York Nets4–2Denver NuggetsJulius Erving F, New York

Prominent players[edit]

For more information, see ABA All-Time Team.[5]

Season leaders[edit]

*Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Scoring leaders[edit]

SeasonPlayerTeam(s)Games
played
PointsPPG
1967–68
Hawkins, ConnieConnie Hawkins*Pittsburgh Pipers70187526.8
1968–69
Barry, RickRick Barry*Oakland Oaks35119034.0
1969–70
Haywood, SpencerSpencer HaywoodDenver Rockets84251930.0
1970–71
Issel, DanDan Issel*Kentucky Colonels83248029.9
1971–72
Scott, CharlieCharlie ScottVirginia Squires73252434.6
1972–73
Erving, JuliusJulius Erving*Virginia Squires71226831.9
1973–74
Julius Erving* (2)New York Nets84229927.4
1974–75
McGinnis, GeorgeGeorge McGinnisIndiana Pacers79235329.8
1975–76
Julius Erving* (3)New York Nets84246429.3

Rebounding leaders[edit]

SeasonPlayerTeam(s)Game
played
Offensive
rebounds
Defensive
rebounds
Total
rebounds
RPG
1967–68
Daniels, MelMel Daniels*Minnesota Muskies78502711121315.6
1968–69
Mel Daniels* (2)Indiana Pacers76383873125616.5
1969–70
Spencer HaywoodDenver Rockets845331104163719.5
1970–71
Mel Daniels* (3)Indiana Pacers823941081147518.0
1971–72
Gilmore, ArtisArtis Gilmore*Kentucky Colonels844211070149117.8
1972–73
Artis Gilmore* (2)Kentucky Colonels844491027147617.6
1973–74
Artis Gilmore* (3)Kentucky Colonels844781060153818.3
1974–75
Nater, SwenSwen NaterSan Antonio Spurs78369910127916.4
1975–76
Artis Gilmore* (4)Kentucky Colonels84402901130115.5

Assists leaders[edit]

SeasonPlayerTeam(s)Games
played
AssistsAPG
1967–68
Brown, LarryLarry Brown*New Orleans Buccaneers785066.5
1968–69
Larry Brown* (2)Oakland Oaks775447.1
1969–70
Larry Brown* (3)Washington Caps825807.1
1970–71
Melchionni, BillBill MelchionniNew York Nets816728.3
1971–72
Bill Melchionni (2)New York Nets806698.4
1972–73
Bill Melchionni(3)New York Nets614537.4
1973–74
Smith, AlAl SmithDenver Rockets766198.1
1974–75
Calvin, MackMack CalvinDenver Nuggets745707.7
1975–76
Buse, DonDon BuseIndiana Pacers846898.2

Steals leaders[edit]

SeasonPlayerTeam(s)Games
played
StealsSPG
1973–74
McClain, TedTed McClainDenver Rockets842502.98
1974–75
Taylor, BrianBrian TaylorNew York Nets792212.80
1975–76
Don BuseIndiana Pacers843464.12

Blocks leaders[edit]

SeasonPlayerTeam(s)Games
played
BlocksBPG
1973–74
Jones, CaldwellCaldwell JonesSan Diego Conquistadors793164.00
1974–75
Caldwell Jones (2)San Diego Conquistadors762463.24
1975–76
Paultz, BillyBilly PaultzSan Antonio Spurs832533.05

Awards[edit]

Succession[edit]

In 1999, a new league calling itself the ABA 2000 was established. The new league uses a similar red, white and blue basketball as the old ABA, but unlike the original ABA, it does not feature players of the same caliber as the NBA, nor does it play games in major arenas nor on television as the original ABA did.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. Villard Books. 1994. p. 180. ISBN 0-679-43293-0. 
  2. ^ Sports Encyclopedia
  3. ^ "ESPN Classic: Mikan was first pro to dominate the post". Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  4. ^ "Dave DeBusschere Bio". NBA.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  5. ^ RememberTheABA.com ABA All-Time Team Page (as selected at 30 year ABA anniversary event)

External links[edit]