The ABA: Basketball's Savior

By NBA News
Nov. 04, 2017


Hey guys, NBANews here with a blog, and it's going to be 🔥. In this blog, I will be explaining the history of the ABA and then how it saved basketball. I'm not gonna make the intro too long, so let's get into it
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Introduction
The American Basketball Association was founded on February 1st, 1967. This league was the main competitor to the NBA, and it was a major one. The main goal of the ABA was to merge with the NBA, and there's a reason for this. NBA teams were very expensive, but ABA teams were less than half the price. The ABA commissioner promised people they would merge with the NBA, so people would by an ABA team in hopes that they would merge, so they could own an NBA team at a cheap price and make huge profit. But, the ABA did way more than that, and changed the game of basketball for the better, and possibly even saved it.
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🔥Chapter 1: ABA History 🔥
💍Part 1💍
The Early Y
ears


The ABA would start out as a small basketball league, at least no where close in popularity as the NBA. They would begin with 11 franchises in different parts of the USA. Those 11 franchises were, The Anaheim Amigos, Dallas Chapparals, Houston Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Kansas City(unnamed originally), Kentucky Colonels, Minnesota Muskies, New Orleans Buccaneers, New York Americans, Oakland Americans, and the Pittsburgh Pipers. The NBA only had 10 teams at the time, which meant they were not reaching a large portion of the US, and this is where the ABA saw an opening. They would locate their teams to areas where the NBA was not reaching. There would be a difference with this league and the NBA. Firstly, they would be the first league to institute the three-point line, they would use a 30 second shot-clock, and they would end up using the classic red, white, and blue colored ball. The ABA would switch to the common 24 second shot-clock soon though. A lot of the ABA's franchises were regional such as the Virginia Squires and the Carolina Cougars(both are original teams but relocated) meaning they would play games in multiple stadiums around their state, so more people would be able to watch the ABA and enjoy seeing basketball in person. The first commissioner of the ABA was NBA HOFer and legend George Mikan. He is credited with the ideas of having a red, white, and blue ball, and the idea of adding a 3 point line. The red, white, and blue ball would soon go on to be associated with the flashy play of the ABA, the threes, dunks, and fast breaks. Something I found kind of funny was when Artis Gilmore was asked why he chose the ABA over the NBA, he answered "because I liked the colors of the ball". With the 3 point line, it was established over 10 years earlier than the NBA established it. The ABA would go after and get four of the best NBA referees by promising to pay them more money than the NBA was. They would also try and attract players to the ABA by promising higher salaries. A lot of the earlier games involved a high volume threes, and a lot of dunking. There was a huge lack of defense, causing it to be similar to today's all-star game. Back then, the NBA was very slow-paced and boring to watch with not a lot of action. In the beginning, the ABA was not the most successful league, as players recall many stories of being able to look up, and count the number of people in the stands. These teams were working to better the league together, and would make many sacrifices to merge with the NBA. The first year of the ABA in the 67-68 season, would include 78 games for each team. Oakland would defeat Anaheim 134-129 in the ABA's inaugural game in front of 4,828 fans. The Pittsburgh Pipers would be the first ABA Champs with a record of 54-24, with having the MVP of that year, who was Connie Hawkins. The next season, two teams would relocate. The Pittsburgh Pipers would go to Minnesota, becoming the Minnesota Pipers, and the Minnesota Muskies would relocate to Miami to become the Miami Floridians. That year, Oakland would end up capturing the title. In the beginning of the next season, the Pipers would relocate back to Pittsburgh, the Oakland Oaks would move to Washington to become the Washington Caps, and the Houston Mavs would go to Carolina to become the Carolina Cougars. That year Spencer Haywood would win MVP, but he tried to go into the NBA after his sophomore college season, but they would not let him, as he was too young, so he declared for the ABA. That year, the Pacers would start an ABA dynasty and win their 1st of 3 titles in the ABA. In the 1970-71 season, the Virginia Squires would draft a man by the name of Julius Erving out of the University of Massachusetts. This year the Utah Stars would win the chip.
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🔥Chapter 1 🔥
💍Part 2💍
Working Towards a M
erge


As I've stated before, the ABA was working towards a merge. This is when the NBA finally saw them as a threat to their league, and tried to work for the league. The players didn't want a merge. The NBAPA would file a lawsuit against the NBA which would be formally named Robertson Vs. NBA. I'll go into more detail later, and explain everything. This lawsuit would last for a whole 6 years. Another thing the ABA would have to do to merge with the NBA, is to get good players so they can get credibility. They did this by grabbing soon to be ABA superstar Connie Hawkins, because he was banned from the NBA because of a point-shaving scandal, and they also got two more NBA legends in Artis Gilmore and Dr. J. Then, perhaps the biggest signing at the time, was when Rick Barry, an NBA legend, made the decision to switch leagues and join the ABA. The ABA would attract younger players by giving them an opportunity to play for their hometown team, so they could stay close to home. Another problem was the fact that most of the time in the early years, the ABA players would play on glorified high school courts, and players recall one night, a game played in Miami, that the referee set the ball down on the court when a team called timeout, and it rolled down to the other end of the court because the court was going down hill. Another game in Miami, the players said was played in a hangar, sometimes the arenas would not have air conditioning, so it would get very hot and humid, so they would open the doors, and on a windy night it would affect the trajectory of the ball. But, that night it was raining, so they had to stop the game because 1 half of the court was super wet from all the rain. Another ABA game, a coach recalls, was that in between timeouts, the refs would have to come out with huge mallets to hammer the boards of the ground back into place, because they were falling out. One night, the players were about to play above an ice skating rink, and the ballboy came out and told them "The temperature on the floor is only 10 degrees Fahrenheit." Then the players recall seeing a whole sheet of ice on the hardwood. They ended up having to play on it, and a player recalls whenever someone would try to take a layup, they would slide 10 feet. Then, in June of 1970, NBA officials voted 13-4 on the ABA merger. The GM of the Seattle Supersonics threatened to move his team to the ABA if the NBA did not accept this merger. He would also move it to Los Angeles to directly compete with the Lakers. The NBA would want to merge with the ABA, but a lawsuit would stop them. That year in the 1971-72 season, the Pacers would go on to win it all, winning their second of three titles, with Artis Gilmore winning MVP. In the 72-73 season, the Pacers would once again win the ABA Championship, with Billy Cunningham winning MVP. The next year, Dr. J would win his first ABA Championship with the Nets.
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🔥Chapter 1🔥
💍Part 3💍
A Huge Obst
acle


The players would proceed to be against it after all the owners voted in favor. This lawsuit would soon become known as Robertson vs. National Basketball Association. This lawsuit prevented the ABA from merging with the NBA, or at least tried to temporarily stop it. It proved to be an insurmountable obstacle until it was ruled by judges. In 1972, U.S. Congress came very close to allowing terms for a merger, even though the NBAPA suit was still going on. The ABA would hire a new commissioner by the name of Mike Storen, in hopes he could enact a merger between the leagues, with his ultimate goal being that. Storen was going to try to use the same tactics the AFL used to merge with the NFL. The NBA and ABA would soon begin to play exhibition matches against each other, to encourage a merge between the players. In the 1971-72 season, the ABA and NBA faced off in an All-Star Game, with the NBA winning by a narrow margin of 125-120. Then, ABA teams would play NBA teams in exhibition games. The first such game was played on September 21st,1971 with Kareem Abdul Jabaar's Bucks facing off against the Dallas Chaparalls. The Bucks would prevail in a close 106-103 victory. Eventually, the ABA would establish itself as the better league. In 1973, they went 15-10 against NBA teams, 16-7 in 1974, and 31-17 in 1975. Every time the ABA champions would play the NBA champions the ABA would win. The NBA coaches would try to downplay these games and say they didn't give their star players full minutes, but in reality if you looked at the box score you would see that they played their star players 35 to 40 minutes each game. The ABA's popularity would skyrocket with these games, as in 1976 CBS sought out to televise a nationally broadcasted playoff between the ABA and NBA. Before the 1975-76 ABA season, two of the ABA teams tried to apply for the NBA and join, those teams were The Denver Nuggets and The New York Nets. The move stirred up some bad-blood in the ABA and the team's were forced to stay. In 1976 four teams would collapse, those teams being, Virginia, Memphis, Utah, and San Diego. This would set up for the ABA merger, with only 6 teams left. The NBA would only accept 4 ABA teams, so then 2 would have to be folded. Those two teams would end up being the Kentucky Colonels, despite having the sixth best attendance in professional basketball(NBA included) and the St. Louis Spirits. The ABA Owners did get cash for it though. The Kentucky Colonels Owner got 3 million dollars, which he then used to buy the Buffalo Braves for only 1.5 million dollars, which were an NBA team at the time. The Spirits Owners(they had two) received 2.2 million combined, and 1/7 of the television revenue for all 4 ABA teams going into the NBA. The NBA exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, causing them to make huge profit. They receive about 2% of the NBA's TV revenue to this day. The four ABA teams accepted were The Indiana Pacers, The New York Nets, The San Antonio Spurs, and The Denver Nuggets.
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🔥Chapter 1🔥
💍Part 4💍
Results of the ABA Me
rger


In the following months there was a dispersal draft to decide which teams got what players from the Colonels and Spirits. I'm only going to include the notable picks. With the first pick, the Chicago Bulls selected former ABA MVP and Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore. With the second pick, the Blazers would select Maurice Lucas. With the fifth pick, the Trail Blazers would select Hall of Famer and Legend Moses Malone. The Spurs would then take Louis Dampier, who would become an all-star. In next years all-star game 10 of the 24 players selected were from the ABA. The Denver Nuggets would win their division for 2 straight years, and miss the third one by just one game. They would do that despite not ever coming close to winning an ABA title. There were many results in play due to the ABA merger, the first being the 3 point line. This would allow players to make baskets worth more, and opened up the opportunity for ties or wins in late game situations. This has become a staple in today's game, and it's impossible to imagine basketball without a 3 point line. Another thing they added was a slam dunk contest, which the ABA instituted the contest in 1976. The first dunk contest produced one of the most famous dunks of all-time, with Dr. J's free throw line dunk. The NBA now used the ABA ball as money balls in the three point contest, with the red, white, and blue pattern. The ABA had a way faster pace of play, and this carried over into the NBA, the ABA's pace cause what the game is today to be like this. Lastly, when the leagues merged, the NBA changed the rule to allow college underclassmen to be drafted.
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🔥Chapter 2: How the ABA Saved Basketball🔥
💍Part 1💍
The Three Point
Line


The three point line is crucial to today's game, it is arguably the most important shot in today's game. The three is such a crucial part in today's game, because it is such a golden age for shooters, some being Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver. Before the merge, Red Auerbach called the three point line a joke, and said it was not real basketball. This really decreased the chances of there actually being a three point line without a merger. The most important aspect of today's game gone. It's at least the most exciting part of today's game, as who does not enjoy watching Steph Curry knock down three after three, and who doesn't enjoy making a three. Threes have changed the game for the better, as it has increased scoring by a fair margin. The three point line was not utilized by many teams at first although. The 1982-83 NBA champions Lakers, only made 10 three pointers..... all season. It took a whole decade for NBA teams to begin to average 2 threes a game. Now, NBA teams average almost 10 threes per game. Now, the three point contest is one of the biggest attractions at All-Star weekend.
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🔥Chapter 2🔥
💍Part 2💍
Play T
empo


The NBA used to be very low scoring, at least before the ABA merger. A former Denver Nuggets Head Coach Doug Moe was quoted saying, "The NBA now plays our(the ABA) style of basketball". He was mostly right. In the 1975-76 season, teams would average about 104 ppg with roughly 91 shots attempted and making only 45% of those shots. But, in the 1976-77 season NBA teams would average almost 107 ppg on 92 shots attempted, while making 46 percent of those. Now you might say to yourself, three points per game is not that much, but it's over 5000 points per season. Also, something significant is the two teams to lead the league in scoring, the Spurs and Nuggets, were ABA teams. The Spurs averaged 115, and the Nuggets almost 113. The next year, scoring would go up again, and teams would average 108.5 points per game. Then in the 1978-79 season, the average for teams ppg was an astonishing 110, and the Spurs averaged a monstrous 120 points per game. In the 1981-82 season, the Denver Nuggets would average 126 points per game, but not win the title. This goes to show how much the ABA's tempo, and high scoring teams went on to affect the whole NBA, and even change it possibly for the better. Now, if it was not for the ABA's fast paced game like we have today, there would not be many fast breaks, and not as much scoring. The NBA would most likely be less fun to watch because it would be a defensive dominant game with not a lot of scoring and flashy dunks and plays. This would mean the NBA would not be making as much revenue and not as many people would want to watch the games, and the NBA would not make a lot of revenue. They would then not have the money to do all the stuff, such as pay players super max contracts, or have the funding to host promotions.
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🔥Chapter 2🔥
💍Part 3💍
The Dunk Con
test


The ABA first introduced a Dunk Contest at their All-Star game in 1976 in hopes of saving and reviving the league, as many ABA teams were going bankrupt as a result of not being able to pay players. This was the jolt the ABA would need and they were partially right. Dr. J won this contest with his world famous free throw line dunk. Now, besides last year's dunk contest, the contest is always the most fun part of all-star weekend other than the game itself. The epic duels that go on each year. From Jordan vs Wilkins, when in the Finals of he 1988 NBA Dunk Contest Wilkins would do a two handed windmill dunk, and earn a forty-five. But then Jordan would come back the next round to win by earning a perfect fifty. The 2000 dunk contest was one of the best of all-time with Vince Carter. From the reverse windmill to the epic dunk he threw down where he stuck his whole arm through the rim miraculously without getting hurt. We had the moment in 2008 when Nate Robinson jumped over and dunked on Dwight Howard in the contest. Very recently, we have had duels between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine that have been amazing. We would lose all these iconic moments, and a lot of fun on all-star weekend had it not been for the ABA.
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🔥Chapter 2🔥

🔥Part 4🔥

💍Allowing Underclassmen To Be Drafted💍


The NBA would originally have a rule that college underclassmen could not be drafted until they were done with college. This means it would make for 23 and 24 year old rookies, which meant they were al

most at their prime. The ABA however would welcome college underclassmen, and even let them play for their hometown team. But, when the leagues merged, this changed. The NBA would finally let players not done with college, and even right after high school to declare for the NBA. Imagine if LeBron would've had to go to college, he probably would not have went to the Cavaliers, and might not be the same player he is today. But that's a what-if for another day. This rule definitely has helped the NBA in many ways. Firstly, the players are younger when they come into the NBA, giving them time to develop into star players. Secondly, because of that time to develop, the NBA has way less busts, since players would be considered busts if they spent all four years in college and did not perform up to expectation. We would have more players like Kris Dunn and maybe Buddy Hield that would be considered busts early in their career and not really given a chance to do anything.
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The Current ABA

The current ABA was started up by Joe Newman and Richard Tinkman. Tinkman was an executive owner of the Pacers from the original ABA. The ABA began to play games in 2000, with eight teams. They would position these eight teams in big markets, and try to get retired NBA players and local college basketball players, at least this was their main recruitment focus. Before the 2002-03 season, the league would stop all operations to reorganize themselves and relocate. Now, they would focus on getting as many teams in medium sized cities as possible. The only ABA rule was if you could pay the franchise fee of 10,000 at the time, whether you could pay to keep the team up or not, they would accept you. As a result of this, over 350 folded teams as of the summer of 2014. I personally thought the number of original ABA franchises folded was a lot, but this is a huge amount of franchises closing to limited funding. In the 2004-05 season 37 ABA teams would end up playing games that season. This seems like a huge number, but at one time the ABA had over 50 teams playing in the ABA. In 2007, a lot of teams did not have much funding, and would fail to travel for road games. One of these incidents was when the Rochester Razorbacks could not travel to play the Wilmington Sea Dawgs due to weather. The league wanted Rochester to forfeit this game. Instead, they would withdraw from the ABA. They were the defending champs at the time, so it would be as if the Warriors withdrew from the NBA. The Owners would see this instability, and the frustrated ones would create their own leave called the PBL(Premier Basketball League). In the 2007-08 season, almost 20 teams folded in just the first five weeks of the season. A small number of games were played that year, as only 35% of the scheduled games were played. After the 2007-08 season, the Halifax Rainmen left the league, despite having the best attendance in the league. In the 2009-10 season, the ABA had to cancel several playoff games due to not being able to travel. The league failed to launch a 2011-12 season, but said they had big plans for the next season. Yet, the next it would fail to launch, and it would then finally come back in the 2014-15 season. As you can see the new ABA is not very rich, and needs funding in order to travel for games, and needs money to keep franchises alive. In conclusion, the ABA has changed the game of basketball for the better, and may have saved the NBA and basketball as a whole.
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🔥💍Conclusion💍🔥
Thanks for reading! Hopefully this can get me to front page, if you read this whole thing you a real one! Smash the like button if you enjoyed!Until next time NBANews out. Also, if you read to the end, you're an
OG.