American Basketball Association

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The American Basketball Association ( ABA ) was an American professional basketball league. It existed between 1967 and 1976 parallel to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and consisted of eleven teams. On June 17, 1976, the ABA and NBA merged, with only four ABA teams being accepted into the NBA: Denver Nuggets , Indiana Pacers , San Antonio Spurs and the New Jersey Nets .

Founded by financially strong investors, the ABA survived longer than other competitors of the NBA (e.g. the NBL or the ABL ). Since initially hardly any player from the NBA wanted to change to the ABA, mostly weak players played there, which earned the ABA the reputation of a " minor league ". Because of the colored game ball and the spectacular way of playing young players like Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving , the ABA disrespectfully referred to it as the “Beach Basketball League”.

The ABA was particularly attractive for college dropouts, as the NBA at the time only allowed players to enter the draft whose college year graduated. The ABA did not have this restriction, so players like Erving, Hawkins, Spencer Haywood and George Gervin moved into the professional camp before they even graduated from college. In 1974, Moses Malone , a player straight out of high school , was hired. A few years later, the NBA also relaxed its draft regulations, paving the way for college dropouts like Magic Johnson or Shaquille O'Neal .

One of the few star players who left the NBA and moved to the ABA was Rick Barry . Because of the current contract with the San Francisco Warriors , Barry had to sit out a year before he ran up for the Oakland Oaks in 1968/69 and won the ABA championship. Many college stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elvin Hayes continued to switch to the more popular and better-playing NBA despite attractive contract offers.

In the 1970s, the ABA was more known than ever for its spectacular style of play. Outwardly, one man represented the ABA in a way that only Michael Jordan would later do for the NBA: Julius Erving of the New York Nets. Its popularity was one of the main reasons the ABA lasted so long despite financial difficulties, and why the NBA was keen to merge.

The ABA introduced numerous innovations to the basketball set of rules. This is how the ABA invented the Slam Dunk Contest , which first took place in 1976. Today it is a very popular part of the NBA All-Star Weekend with fans .

ABA champions

1967-68 Pittsburgh Pipers 4-3 New Orleans Buccaneers
1968-69 Oakland Oaks 4-1 Indiana Pacers
1969-70 Indiana Pacers 4-2 Los Angeles Stars
1970-71 Utah stars 4-3 Kentucky Colonels
1971-72 Indiana Pacers 4-2 New Jersey Nets
1972-73 Indiana Pacers 4-3 Kentucky Colonels
1973-74 New Jersey Nets 4-1 Utah stars
1974-75 Kentucky Colonels 4-1 Indiana Pacers
1975-76 New Jersey Nets 4-2 Denver nuggets


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