Just like the American Football League was created to compete with the established NFL in 1960, the American Basketball Association was born for one reason – to compete against the NBA. And just like the AFL, the ABA introduced new wrinkles to set its’ game apart from the NBA, among them the red, white and blue basketball the league used. The athletic players who played in the ABA brought the art of dunking the ball to a new level, especially Julius Erving (above,right), who earned the nickname “Dr. J”. The ABA also is responsible for 2 innovations that carried over into the NBA when the leagues merged – the 3-point field goal and the slam dunk contest at the All-Star game. The ABA signed star players to large contracts, and wound up with a lot of the biggest stars of the era including Erving, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issell, George Gervin, David Thompson, Marvin Barnes, Maurice Lucas, Connie Hawkins, Rick Barry and Moses Malone. The league is probably most remembered for their wide open style of play, colorful players, wild promotions to attract fans and the huge Afro hairstyles worn by many of their players. When the two leagues decided to make peace, four of the ABA teams were absorbed into the NBA – the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and New York (now New Jersey) Nets. All four of these teams have been among the strongest franchises in the NBA over the years, and without a doubt created a lot of new energy and excitement for the game of pro basketball when they entered the league. Like the old AFL, the ABA still has a cult following of people who remember the league fondly. Check out the website www.remembertheaba.com for more info about the league.
ABA – Afros, Dunks and A Colorful Ball