What’s the ABA?

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The American Basketball Association (ABA) was a successful basketball league that merged with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1976. The ABA introduced advances such as the 3-point line and slam dunk competition, and had high-caliber players including Julius Erving and George Gervin. Four ABA teams were absorbed by the NBA.

The American Basketball Association (ABA) was a basketball league that formed in 1967 and was eventually successful enough to merge with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1976. The ABA – also the name of a league of basketball that began in 2000 – has been credited with a string of advances that have made their way into the NBA.
The American Basketball Association comprised 12 franchises: Anaheim Amigos/Los Angeles Stars/Utah Stars;
Houston Mavericks/Carolina Cougars/Spirits of St. Louis; Dallas Chaparrals/Texas Chaparrals/San Antonio Spurs; Denver Rockets/Denver Nuggets/Indiana Pacers; Kentucky Colonels/New Orleans Buccaneers/Memphis Pros/Tams/Sounds; Minnesota Muskies/Miami Floridians/The Floridians; New Jersey/New York Nets Americans; Oakland Oaks/Washington Capitals/Virginia Squires; Pittsburgh Pipers/Minnesota Pipers/Pittsburgh Condor; Conquistadores/Sails of San Diego. Of these 12, four financially successful teams were absorbed by the NBA: the New York Nets (later New Jersey), the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs.

The American Basketball Association has been successful, despite a lack of national television coverage, largely due to its open style of play. Players who signed with ABA teams were often the high-caliber, athletic players who fit more into the ABA style than the NBA. Some of the biggest stars in the association – many of whom became celebrities in the NBA after the merger – were Julius Erving, Billy Cunningham, Rick Barry, Connie Hawkins, David Thompson, George Gervin, George McGinnis, Spencer Haywood, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and Moses Malone.

The American Basketball Association is also credited with creating the 3-point line, which later became a staple of all levels of basketball and which helped open up the game and make it more fun. In its final season of 1976, the American Basketball Association introduced slam dunk competition to its All-Star Game. The NBA didn’t start its own slam dunk competition until 1984, but it has become one of the league’s most popular events. The ABA also used a red, white, and blue basketball, but failed to catch on anywhere else.

While financial woes ultimately doomed the American Basketball Association, its level of play helped force a merger with the NBA. In the league’s later years, the ABA began winning ABA games against the NBA that once dominated the old league. In the first year after the merger, nearly half of the NBA’s All-Stars were former ABA players.

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