The American Basketball Association (ABA) was a professional basketball league founded in 1967, and eventually merged, in part, with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

League history

The original ABA was founded in 1967, competing with the well-established National Basketball Association, until reaching an agreement of merger in 1976. Ultimately, four ABA teams were absorbed into the older league: the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs. Two other clubs, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis were disbanded upon the merger. A third, the Virginia Squires, had folded less than a month earlier, missing out on the opportunities that a merger might have provided.

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–and use of a three-point field goal arc). Also, the ABA used a colorful red, white and blue ball, instead of the NBA's traditional orange ball. 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.

Perhaps the most significant long-term contribution of the ABA to professional basketball was to tap into markets that had been collegiate basketball hotbeds (North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida) of the southeast. The NBA was focused on the urban areas of the industrial northeast and midwest and showed no interest in placing a team south of Washington, DC.

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.[1] 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 merger of the four ABA teams into the NBA.[2]

List of ABA teams


List of ABA championships

Year Winner Finals Loser Games Finals MVP
1967-1968 Pittsburgh Pipers New Orleans Buccaneers 4-3 Connie Hawkins C, Pittsburgh
1968-1969 Oakland Oaks Indiana Pacers 4-1 Warren Jabali G, Oakland
1969-1970 Indiana Pacers Los Angeles Stars 4-2 Roger Brown F/G, Indiana
1970-1971 Utah Stars Kentucky Colonels 4-2 Zelmo Beaty C, Utah
1971-1972 Indiana Pacers New York Nets 4-2 Freddie Lewis G, Indiana
1972-1973 Indiana Pacers Kentucky Colonels 4-3 George McGinnis F/C, Indiana
1973-1974 New York Nets Utah Stars 4-1 Julius Erving F, New York
1974-1975 Kentucky Colonels Indiana Pacers 4-1 Artis Gilmore C, Kentucky
1975-1976 New York Nets Denver Nuggets 4-2 Julius Erving F, New York

Prominent players of the ABA


First beginning play in 2000 with eight teams, the league is currently in its seventh season.

Following its first two seasons, the league suspended operations in 2002-2003 for reorganization. Expansion occurred prior to the 2004-2005 season, with thirty-seven teams eventually playing that year. The 2006-2007 season saw the cost for a new expansion franchise raised to $50,000.[3] One notable 2006-2007 expansion franchise was the Vermont Frost Heaves, owned by Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff. Also in 2006-2007, former NBA player John Salley was named league commissioner, and Maryland Nighthawks owner Tom Doyle was named chief operating officer.

Following the league's first public offering in 2006, it was reported that Joe Newman was voted out of his position as league CEO.[4] In a form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2007, the ABA Board of Directors stated that Newman was removed as league CEO on January 31, 2007. It went on to state that Newman's actions as league CEO would be reviewed to ensure that they were performed with the Board's permission.[5] The same filing also claimed that Newman and other shareholders plotted to remove Tom Doyle, John Salley, and David Howitt from the Board and elect Paul Riley as its director. Newman denied his removal ever occurred, and continued as acting CEO.[6] The lawsuits were settled in March 2007 with Doyle and Salley's resignations from the league Board of Directors.

The 2007-2008 season has seen nearly twenty teams fold within its first five weeks, and rumors suggest that the remaining teams may leave the ABA to either form their own league, or join other existing leagues. During the 2007-2008 season, the Vermont Frost Heaves posted the league's best record and would go on to win their second ABA title. They are the first team in league history to win two titles and the first to do so back to back.

2007-08 teams

For current regular season standings, see Standings.
For regular season standings of past ABA seasons, see American Basketball Association (2000-) Standings.

Red Conference

Southwest Division

South Division

Blue Conference

Northeast Division

North Division

Central Division

South Division

2008-09 expansion teams

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