American Basketball Association(1967-76)
The American Basketball Association began as a rival to the NBA in 1967. The ABA hoped the make money in markets that the NBA was not in, however, the ABA did establish teams in the New York (Americans), San Francisco (Oaks) and Los Angeles (Amigos) markets. The ABA set up many of its teams in cities where the NBL, a predecissor to the NBA, had originally been located, such as Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Denver. It had also set up teams were no prior major basketball league had attempted such as in Louisville, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.
The ABA seen almost immediate success as fans liked the fast pace style of basketball that was played and the ABA incorperated new additions to the game such as a three point line. The ABA also frequently incorporated what many would call side attractions to their games. One of the most famous was when the Kentucky Colonels signed a Five-foot-three-inch female jockey named Penny Anne Early. Early would play one minute in a game vs the Los Angeles Stars and become the first and thus far only woman to play in a major professional basketball game
The ABA seen a lot of fludity in its teams locations. Relocation was a constand theme which would bring teams to places such as Salt Lake City, Miami, Memphis, Baltimore, and Richmond. In the decade long run of the ABA only three teams did not relocate; Kentucky, Denver and Indiana. The Nets franchise bounced around the New York area as well but moved New Jersey to New York before going back to New Jersey a year after joining the NBA.
The ABA began seeing financial problems in the mid 1970s due mainly to its rivarly with the NBA. The NBA had more money and more sponsors and was able to attract the best ABA players such as Connie Hawkins, and Julius Erving.
in 1976 the ABA and NBA met to finalize a merge. The New York Nets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs would join the NBA as full members; the Virginia Squires and Kentucky Colonels would accept money and disband. One team, however, fought the merger and would end up getting one of the best deals in history. The Spirits of St Louis, who had announced before the season that they were relocating and becoming the Utah Rockies, wanted to join the NBA as the Rockies but the NBA did not want to take on 5 teams so a bargan was reached. The Rockies/Spirits would disband but they would recived 1/5 of the TV revenue that the 4 teams joining the NBA received. It is estimated that the Rockies ownership has received close to 300 million dollars in TV revenue since 1976.
The ABA's impact on the basketball landscape would be far reaching. Many former NBA cities would recived NBA teams either during the life of the ABA or shortly after its merger. The NBA expanded to New Orleans 3 years after the Buccaneers left and that same New Orleans NBA franchise, the Jazz, would return pro basketball to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1979 when it relocated there. Other future NBA cities that had ABA teams would include Memphis (Pros and Grizzlies), Miami (Floridians and Heat), Minneapolis (Muskies, Pipers, and Timerwolvers), Houston (Mavericks and Rockets), Dallas (Chaps and Mavericks), Charlotte (Cougars, Hornets, and Bobcats), and San Diego (Conquistadors/Sails, Rockets and Clippers). Only a Pittsburgh, Louisville Richmond, St Louis, and Baltimore have not seen an NBA expansion come their way.
Connie Hawkins fight against the NBA |
On October sixth, the NBA lost one of the great pioneers in league history. Connie Hawkins was a four time NBA all-star and former ABA MVP, who's legal battle with the ABA and NBA helped change the landscape of professional basketball.
Few athletes in American history have ever been as victimized by the system as Hawkins was. In 1961, while Hawkins was a freshman at Iowa and ineligible to play on the Hawkeyes varsity team due to NCAA regulations at the time, a humongous college betting scandal erupted and Hawkins was kicked out of school.
The scandal involved 22 different schools and 37 players, but Hawkins was not implicated. The scandal mostly focused on players associated with Jack Molinas, who had escaped the CCNY betting scandal a decade and a half earlier. Hawkins, growing up in New York City, knew many of the players involved and had borrowed $2,000 for school expenses from Jack Molinas, but Hawkins brother had paid Molinas back before the scandal erupted.
The NBA Ghost Team: Utah Rockies|
One of the great anomalies and interesting facts of the NBA revolves around a team that is not even in the NBA, but yet receives a portion of the NBA revenue. It is the rumored ghost franchise of the NBA, also known as the Utah Rockies or Spirits of Saint Louis.
Even some of the most die hard fans have never heard of this franchise and that is because they have never played a game in the NBA. Ever. The Spirits are a semblance of the NBA's old rival, the American Basketball Association. But unlike teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and New York Nets; the Rockies/Spirits never joined the NBA, nor did they disband like the Virginia Squires, Kentucky Colonels or San Diego Conquistadors. Instead they got one the good side of one of the best business deals of the 20th century, and deal that is still making its benefactors a fortune today.
Dr J is one of the greatest players to play in both the ABA and NBA. find out more in this article.