American Basketball Association

What is the American Basketball Association?

The American Basketball Association, also known as the ABA, was a challenger to the NBA in the late 60s and early 70s. The league’s modern take on basketball was refreshing to new fans who had grown tired of the current state of basketball played in the NBA. Without the success of the ABA and its eventual merger with the NBA, the modern game of basketball would be much different.

The ABA was started in 1967 in order to challenge the NBA as America’s premier basketball league. Many of the teams were located in areas without NBA teams in order to quickly gain support. The ABA was wildly successful due to the many changes it made to the sport. One of the most recognizable signs of the ABA was a red, white, and blue basketball as opposed to the orange basketball used in the NBA. The ABA also introduced the three point line, where if a player made a shot outside that line, it would count for three points instead of two.

Star ABA Players

The star players who chose the ABA over the NBA also helped to attract attention. The most well known ABA player was Julius Erving, more commonly known as Dr. J. His vibrant new style of play incorporated something unheard of at the time: the slam dunk. With this move, Dr. J became a household name.

ABA Merge with the NBA

After a decade, the ABA began to experience serious financial difficulties. Star players such as Dr. J, George “The Iceman” Gervin, Moses Malone, and David Thompson had already or were planning on leaving for the NBA. Eventually, the ABA merged with the NBA, with four ABA teams (the Spurs, Pacers, Nets, and Nuggets) all becoming official NBA franchises. The NBA also adopted the three point line and the fast style of play that had been popularized by the ABA. Today’s game has been greatly impacted by this, with the three point line and Dr. J’s slam dunk becoming synonymous with today’s form of basketball.