|No. of teams||11|
|New York Nets (2nd title)|
|Most titles||Indiana Pacers (3 titles)|
The original American Basketball Association (ABA) was a major men's professional basketball league from 1967 to 1976. The ABA ceased to exist with the American Basketball Association–National Basketball Association merger in 1976, leading to four ABA teams joining the National Basketball Association and to the introduction of the 3-point shot in the NBA in 1979.
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The ABA was conceived at a time stretching from 1960 through the mid-1970s when numerous upstart leagues were challenging, with varying degrees of success, the established major professional sports leagues in the United States. Basketball was seen as particularly vulnerable to a challenge; its major league, the National Basketball Association, was the youngest of the Big Four major leagues, having only played 21 seasons to that point, and was still fending off contemporary challenging leagues (it had been less than five years since the American Basketball League (ABL) shut down). 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.
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, pioneered in the earlier ABL.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 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.
The league succeeded in forcing a merger with the NBA in the 1976 offseason. Four ABA teams were absorbed into the older league: the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. As part of the merger agreement, the four teams were not permitted to participate in the 1976 NBA Draft. The merger was particularly hard on the Nets; the New York Knicks were firmly established in their arena, Madison Square Garden, and would not permit the Nets to share dates there. For drawing audience away from the Knicks, the Nets were forced to pay $4.3M to the Knicks organization. The Nets offered league superstar Julius Erving instead but the Knicks declined. The Nets had to settle for an arena in Piscataway, New Jersey and, to meet expenses, were forced to sell the contract of Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Two other clubs, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis, were disbanded upon the merger, with each getting a buyout: the Colonels received a one-time buyout that owner John Y. Brown, Jr. used to purchase the NBA's Buffalo Braves, while the Spirits owners negotiated a cut of the other ABA teams' television revenues in perpetuity. This deal netted the ownership group of the Spirits over $300M through nearly four decades due to a large increase in television revenues. In 2014, the NBA and the Spirits ownership agreed to phase out future payments in exchange for a one-time payment of $500M, making the total value for the deal over $800M.The seventh remaining team, the Virginia Squires, received nothing, as they had ceased operations shortly before the merger. The players from the Colonels, Spirits, and Squires were made available to NBA teams through a dispersal draft; the four teams absorbed by the NBA were allowed to choose players from this draft.
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, other than the Atlanta metropolitan area where the NBA's Hawks franchise relocated from St. Louis in 1968.
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.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.
One of the primary contributions of the ABA to modern NBA was the introduction of the Spencer Haywood Hardship Rule, which would later become the framework for the current NBA draft eligibility system that allows players to declare for the NBA after being one year removed from their high school graduation. [ citation needed ]The origin of the Hardship Rule was a result of the NBA prohibiting players from joining the league until they had completed their four years of college eligibility. The ABA was a league that frequently made up rules on the fly and was willing to push the envelope and determine the implications of the rules later.
In 1969, Spencer Haywood left the University of Detroit as a sophomore and signed with the Denver Rockets.The ABA believed that in extenuating circumstances, such as financial situation or familial needs, players should be able to leave for professional leagues early. While the NBA and NCAA initially contested the rule, after the courts ruled in favor of Haywood playing in the ABA, the NBA followed suit and relaxed the four year rule to allow for players to enter the league if they qualified as a hardship on the basis of “financial condition…family, [or] academic record.” Haywood paved the way for other players to enter the ABA before they had completed their collegiate careers such as George McGinnis and Julius Erving. Today, the one-and-done rule in the NBA can be traced back to the ABA's decision to allow players to leave college early and pursue a professional career before they had completed their collegiate careers.
The ABA pioneered the advent of the now popular NBA slam dunk contest at the ABA All Star game in 1976.The game was held in Denver, and the owners of the ABA teams wanted to ensure that the event would be entertaining for the sellout crowd of 15,021 people. The ABA and NBA had begun to discuss a possible merger, and the ABA owners wanted to establish the viability and success of their league. The Dunk Contest operated as a means of unique halftime entertainment that displayed the style and excitement that the ABA players brought to the game. The dunk contest was held at halftime of the All-Star game and the contestants were Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, David Thompson, Larry Kenon, and Julius Erving. The winner of the contest received $1,000 and a stereo system. Julius Erving went on to win the competition by completing the now famous free throw line dunk.
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 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, New Orleans, Memphis, Minnesota and Charlotte all had an ABA team before the NBA arrived.
| Anaheim Amigos|
Los Angeles Stars
|Anaheim Amigos||1967–1968||Folded, 1975 |
NBA relocated New Orleans Jazz to Utah as Utah Jazz in 1979.
|Los Angeles Stars||1968–1970|
| Dallas Chaparrals|
San Antonio Spurs
|Dallas Chaparrals||1967–1970||Joined the NBA, 1976, as San Antonio Spurs |
NBA added a franchise in Dallas (Mavericks) in 1980.
|San Antonio Spurs||1973–1976|
| Houston Mavericks |
Spirits of St. Louis
|Houston Mavericks||1967–1969||Folded, 1976 (NBA buyout) |
NBA relocated San Diego Rockets to Houston as Houston Rockets in 1971.
NBA added a franchise in Charlotte (Hornets) in 1988.
|Spirits of St. Louis||1974–1976|
|Indiana Pacers||Indiana Pacers||1967–1976||Joined NBA, 1976, as Indiana Pacers|
| Kansas City |
Denver Larks /Rockets /Nuggets
|Kansas City (unnamed)||1967||Joined the NBA, 1976, as Denver Nuggets|
|Kentucky Colonels||Kentucky Colonels||1967–1976||Folded, 1976 (NBA buyout)|
| Minnesota Muskies |
|Minnesota Muskies||1967–1968||Folded, 1972|
NBA added a franchise in Miami (Heat) in 1988.
NBA added a franchise in Minnesota (Timberwolves) in 1989.
| New Orleans /Louisiana Buccaneers |
Memphis Pros /Tams /Sounds
Baltimore Hustlers /Claws
|New Orleans Buccaneers||1967–1970||Folded, 1975|
NBA relocated Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans as New Orleans Hornets (now New Orleans Pelicans) in 2002.
NBA relocated Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis as Memphis Grizzlies in 2000.
| New York/New Jersey Americans|
New York Nets
|New York Americans||1967||Joined NBA, 1976, with name changes to reflect move to New Jersey (1977) and currently Brooklyn Nets (2012).|
|New Jersey Americans||1967–1968|
|New York Nets||1968–1976|
| Oakland Americans/Oaks |
|Oakland Americans||1967||Folded, 1976 (prior to merger)|
NBA relocated San Francisco Warriors to Oakland as Golden State Warriors in 1971.
NBA relocated Baltimore Bullets to Washington as Capital Bullets (now Washington Wizards) in 1973.
| Pittsburgh Pipers /Pioneers /Condors|
|Pittsburgh Pipers||1967–1968||Folded, 1972 |
NBA added a franchise in Minnesota (Timberwolves) in 1989.
|San Diego Conquistadors /Sails||San Diego Conquistadors||1972–1975||Folded, 1975|
NBA operated in San Diego from 1967 to 1971 with the San Diego Rockets (now the Houston Rockets) and from 1978 to 1984 with the San Diego Clippers (now the Los Angeles Clippers).
|San Diego Sails||1975|
|Year||Western Division finalist||Games||Eastern Division finalist||Playoffs MVP|
|1967–68||New Orleans Buccaneers||3–4||Pittsburgh Pipers||Connie Hawkins C, Pittsburgh|
|1968–69||Oakland Oaks||4–1||Indiana Pacers||Warren Jabali G, Oakland|
|1969–70||Los Angeles Stars||2–4||Indiana Pacers||Roger Brown F/G, Indiana|
|1970–71||Utah Stars||4–3||Kentucky Colonels||Zelmo Beaty C, Utah|
|1971–72||Indiana Pacers||4–2||New York Nets||Freddie Lewis G, Indiana|
|1972–73||Indiana Pacers||4–3||Kentucky Colonels||George McGinnis F/C, Indiana|
|1973–74||Utah Stars||1–4||New York Nets||Julius Erving F, New York|
|1974–75||Indiana Pacers||1–4||Kentucky Colonels||Artis Gilmore C, Kentucky|
With the ABA cut down to seven teams by the middle of its final season, the league abandoned divisional play.
|1975–76||New York Nets||4–2||Denver Nuggets||Julius Erving F, New York|
For more information, see ABA All-Time Team.
|*||Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame|
|Connie Hawkins *||Pittsburgh Pipers||70||1875||26.8|
|Rick Barry *||Oakland Oaks||35||1190||34.0|
|Spencer Haywood *||Denver Rockets||84||2519||30.0|
|Dan Issel *||Kentucky Colonels||83||2480||29.9|
|Charlie Scott *||Virginia Squires||73||2524||34.6|
|Julius Erving *||Virginia Squires||71||2268||31.9|
|Julius Erving* (2)||New York Nets||84||2299||27.4|
|George McGinnis *||Indiana Pacers||79||2353||29.8|
|Julius Erving* (3)||New York Nets||84||2462||29.3|
|Mel Daniels *||Minnesota Muskies||78||502||711||1213||15.6|
|Mel Daniels* (2)||Indiana Pacers||76||383||873||1256||16.5|
|Spencer Haywood*||Denver Rockets||84||533||1104||1637||19.5|
|Mel Daniels* (3)||Indiana Pacers||82||394||1081||1475||18.0|
|Artis Gilmore *||Kentucky Colonels||84||421||1070||1491||17.8|
|Artis Gilmore* (2)||Kentucky Colonels||84||449||1027||1476||17.6|
|Artis Gilmore* (3)||Kentucky Colonels||84||478||1060||1538||18.3|
|Swen Nater||San Antonio Spurs||78||369||910||1279||16.4|
|Artis Gilmore* (4)||Kentucky Colonels||84||402||901||1303||15.5|
|Larry Brown *||New Orleans Buccaneers||78||506||6.5|
|Larry Brown* (2)||Oakland Oaks||77||544||7.1|
|Larry Brown* (3)||Washington Caps||82||580||7.1|
|Bill Melchionni||New York Nets||81||672||8.3|
|Bill Melchionni (2)||New York Nets||80||669||8.4|
|Bill Melchionni (3)||New York Nets||61||453||7.4|
|Al Smith||Denver Rockets||76||619||8.1|
|Mack Calvin||Denver Nuggets||74||570||7.7|
|Don Buse||Indiana Pacers||84||689||8.2|
|Ted McClain||Denver Rockets||84||250||2.98|
|Brian Taylor||New York Nets||79||221||2.80|
|Don Buse||Indiana Pacers||84||346||4.12|
|Caldwell Jones||San Diego Conquistadors||79||316||4.00|
|Caldwell Jones (2)||San Diego Conquistadors||76||246||3.24|
|Billy Paultz||San Antonio Spurs||83||253||3.05|
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 similar caliber to the NBA, nor does it play games in major arenas or on television as the original ABA did.
The Brooklyn Nets are an American professional basketball team based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The Nets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The team plays its home games at Barclays Center. They are one of two NBA teams located in New York City; the other is the New York Knicks. The club was established in 1967 as a charter franchise of the NBA's rival league, the American Basketball Association (ABA). They played in New Jersey as the New Jersey Americans during their first season, before relocating to Long Island, New York, in 1968 and changing their name to the New York Nets. During this time, the Nets won two ABA championships. In 1976, the ABA merged with the NBA, and the Nets were absorbed into the NBA along with three other ABA teams, all of whom remain in the league to this day.
Julius Winfield Erving II, commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American former professional basketball player. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential basketball players of all time and the greatest ABA player of all time, Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season.
The Virginia Squires were a basketball team based in Norfolk, Virginia, and playing in several other Virginia cities. They were members of the American Basketball Association from 1970 to 1976.
George F. McGinnis is an American former professional basketball player who played 11 seasons in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). He was drafted into the ABA from Indiana University in 1971.
Maurice Lucas was an American professional basketball player who played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was a four-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977. He was named to the ABA All-Time Team.
The 1977 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1976–77 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. The Western Conference champion Portland Trail Blazers played against the Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers, with the 76ers holding home-court advantage. Their four regular season meetings had been split evenly, 2–2, with neither side winning away from home. The series was played under a best-of-seven format.
The 1976–77 NBA season was the 31st season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Portland Trail Blazers winning their first NBA Championship in franchise history, beating the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the NBA Finals.
Larry Joe Kenon is an American former professional basketball player.
The 1976 NBA draft was the 30th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on June 8, 1976, before the 1976–77 season. In this draft, 18 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Atlanta Hawks won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Chicago Bulls were awarded the second pick. The Hawks then traded the first pick to the Houston Rockets before the draft. The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. The New York Knicks forfeited their first-round draft pick due to their illegal signing of George McGinnis whose rights were held by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers, the Golden State Warriors and the Buffalo Braves also forfeited their second, third and fourth-round picks respectively due to their participation in 1975 supplementary draft American Basketball Association (ABA) players who had never been drafted in the NBA. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. Before the draft, 26 college underclassmen were declared eligible for selection under the "hardship" rule. 13 of them withdrew before the draft, leaving only 13 early entry candidates eligible for selection. These players had applied and gave evidence of financial hardship to the league, which granted them the right to start earning their living by starting their professional careers earlier. The draft consisted of 10 rounds comprising the selection of 173 players. On August 8, 1976, the league also hosted a Dispersal draft for ABA players from the Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis, who were not included in the ABA–NBA merger.
The 1975 NBA draft was the 29th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on May 29, 1975, before the 1975–76 season. In this draft, 18 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Atlanta Hawks, who obtained the New Orleans Jazz first-round pick in a trade, won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Los Angeles Lakers were awarded the second pick. Prior to the draft, the Kansas City-Omaha Kings were renamed the Kansas City Kings. Before the draft, 18 college underclassmen and 2 high school players were declared eligible for selection under the "hardship" rule. These players had applied and gave evidence of financial hardship to the league, which granted them the right to start earning their living by starting their professional careers earlier.
The 1972 NBA draft was the 26th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on April 10 and 15, 1972 before the 1972–73 season. In this draft, 17 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Portland Trail Blazers won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Buffalo Braves were awarded the second pick. The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. As a result of last year's supplemental hardship draft, the Cincinnati Royals, the Atlanta Hawks, the Golden State Warriors and the Baltimore Bullets forfeited their first round picks, while the Los Angeles Lakers forfeited their fourth round pick. Prior to the start of the season, the Cincinnati Royals relocated and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. The draft consisted of 18 rounds comprising the selection of 198 players.
The 1962 NBA draft was the 16th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on March 26, 1962, before the 1962–63 season. In this draft, nine NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. In each round, the teams selected in reverse order of their won–loss record in the previous season. Before the draft, a team could forfeit its first-round draft pick, then select any player from within a 50-mile radius of its home arena as their territorial pick. The Chicago Packers, who finished last in the previous season, were renamed the Chicago Zephyrs. The Philadelphia Warriors relocated to San Francisco and became the San Francisco Warriors prior to the start of the season. The draft consisted of 16 rounds, comprising 102 players selected.
The 1973–74 New York Nets season was the seventh season in the ABA basketball New York Nets franchise. The Nets won their first ABA Championship against the Utah Stars.
The 1976 ABA All Star Game was the ninth and final American Basketball Association All-Star Game, played at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado on January 27, 1976. This time, the league abandoned the usual East vs. West format it used from the 1967-68 season onward and instead had the league's first place team at the All Star break face off against a team of ABA All Stars. At the All Star break the Denver Nuggets were in first place, which was convenient as the Nuggets had also been selected to host the game in McNichols Arena. Kevin Loughery of the New York Nets coached the All-Stars while Larry Brown led the Denver Nuggets. This was the second year in a row that Loughery and Brown coached against each other in the ABA All-Star Game.
The merger of the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the National Basketball Association (NBA), after multiple attempts over several years, occurred in 1976. The NBA and ABA had entered merger talks as early as 1970, but an antitrust suit filed by the head of the NBA players union, Robertson v. National Basketball Ass'n, blocked the merger until 1976.
The 1975–76 ABA season was the ninth and final season of the American Basketball Association. The shot clock was changed from 30 to 24 seconds to match the NBA. Dave DeBusschere was the league's new commissioner, its seventh and last.
The 1974–75 ABA season was the eighth season of the American Basketball Association. The Kentucky Colonels won the 1975 ABA Championship after winning the Eastern Division; the Denver Nuggets won the Western Division. Julius Erving and George McGinnis shared the league's MVP award.
The 1975-76 American Basketball Association season saw the Spirits of St. Louis, led by Marvin Barnes, Moses Malone, Ron Boone and Caldwell Jones, drop to sixth place in the ABA, with a record of 35-49. As a result, the Spirits missed the playoffs in their second and final season.
Carl Scheer was an American basketball executive. Over his career, he served as the general manager of the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets. He was also the commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association. He was the first GM in Hornets history and is credited as the inventor of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.