|InsideHoops NBA [Home]
||Feb. 12, 2004
ABA History - The
Original American Basketball Association
This is about the original American Basketball Association
Related: Info on the new, current
Related: Year-by-year original ABA
champions and award-winners.
The ABA, a former professional basketball league, lived
for nine seasons (1967-1976). At the time of its inception, the NBA only had 10
teams. NBA expansion was needed but, due to enormous financial demands, wasn't
happening. So, the ABA was formed.
The ABA had major style. The basketball was wild, with
patriotic red white and blue colors, as thought of by George Mikan, the first
ABA commissioner. The players were wild as well, showcasing cool moves, fashionable
(often ridiculously so) clothes and a bad attitude (in a good way). Many NBA stars
first played in the ABA - Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Connie Hawkins, Artis Gilmore,
George Gervin and Dan Issel, to name an impressive handful.
Other ABA stars were: Rick Barry, Spencer Haywood, Bobby
Jones, Maurice Lucas, Billy Cunningham and Steve Jones. The ABA coaches list includes
such stars as Larry Brown, Hubie Brown, K.C. Jones, Lou Carnesecca, Al Bianchi
and Doug Moe.
The ABA brought cool nicknames: Bad News. Slick. Dr. J.
The Iceman. Fatty.
The American Basketball Association had all the flair
everyone wanted the NBA to have. ABA games were more wild. Lots of running. Fast
breaks everywhere. The ABA had runners and gunners - guys would fly up and down
the court, attacking the basket one minute and firing 3-pointers the next (yes,
the ABA had the 3-point basket while the NBA did not). The 3-point line tended
to force defenders to step out and guard respectable outside shooters, opening
up the lane for drives. The NBA only had the two-point shot, so defenses tended
to huddle closer to the basket, encouraging outside shots and not allowing as
much to develop close to the basket. Also, there was no fouling out in the ABA.
So, while NBA stars would sometimes be forced to sit down due to foul trouble,
ABA stars were on the court as much as their bodies and coaches would allow.
ABA basketball was fun basketball.
The NBA, however, had all the money. And therefore, it
could advertise, bringing fans and media coverage. The ABA lacked funds, and therefore
lacked the means to draw fans and receive the attention it deserved.
The ABA was definitely not as good as the NBA when it
was first created. Occasional ABA vs. NBA games were played, and NBA teams dominated.
Over time, the quality of the ABA talent pool increased dramatically. While it's
no longer a big deal for current NBA teams to draft high school players, NBA teams
never did that years ago. ABA teams did, and therefore got the jump on a lot of
talent that would have gone to the NBA if given the choice. In the later years
of the ABA, ABA teams usually beat NBA teams in inter-league competition.
Despite the rise in quality of the American Basketball
Association teams as time went on, the NBA still had all the fame and fortune.
The ABA was struggling. The league managed to prove itself in many ways - competitive,
exciting games, and top notch basketball stars, but it was unable to prove itself
as a business. The logical solution - merge with the NBA.
The ABA - NBA merger took place in 1976, with four successful
ABA teams - the San Antonio Spurs, New York Nets, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers
- joining the NBA. The rest of the ABA shut down for good.
Almost half of the players in the first NBA All-Star game
after the merger were former ABA players.
Now see the players and championship teams.
Right here:Year-by-year original ABA champions