American Basketball Association

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History of the ABA

The original ABA was formed in 1967 and lasted 10 seasons prior to merging four of its teams into the NBA. The lead attorney for the ABA during the merger was one of the Indiana Pacers Co-Founders and Commissioner of the ABA, Dick Tinkham, an Indianapolis attorney. Opposing counsel was David Stern, who was later to become the NBA Commissioner.

The original ABA did not have national television, national radio and today’s digital media. What it did have was the mystique of the ABA- featuring it’s red, white and blue ball, 3 point shots, wide open style of play including slam dunks (and the introduction of the first Slam Dunk Competition), and a remarkable group of players. The ABA produced some of the greatest players of the 20th century- Dr J, George Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Connie Hawkins, Dan Issel, Roger Brown, David Thompson, Mel Daniels, Moses Malone, Marvin Barnes and many others. In fact, 50% of the NBA All Star team in the first year of the merger were ABA players.

Dick Tinkham and Joe Newman decided to bring back the ABA in 1999, after the original ABA had been dormant for nearly 30 years. This time, to avoid the lack of profitability of the ABA in the past, they decided to improve the business model by making it more affordable to own a team by reducing the operating costs, cost of travel and venues, as well as forming strong bonds with communities and encouraging family friendly entertainment. They kept the exciting rules and style of play, and the result is that the ABA is now one of the largest professional sports leagues in the US, with over 70 teams competing for the Championship this season, across 10 divisions. Their community work with Fast Break for Reading, Bullies are Cowards, Proud to Serve America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and have made major impacts in cities throughout the US.

Today, the ABA has nearly 1000 players competing at the professional level, over 200 coaches and over 200 officials. It is made up of former NBA players, NCAA Div 1 and 2 players, McDonalds All Americans, international players, and is the platform for sending off many players to international teams.

The ABA will continue to grow as it continues to form valuable ties with basketball governing bodies, and grows its number of teams. Network coverage is set to broaden, as is the fan base and merchandising. Big things are in store for the ABA, and the red, white and blue ball is set to be around for a long time to come.

ABA League Facts

  • Professional Basketball League with over 70 teams
  • Signature red, white, and blue basketball
  • Instituted 3-point shot and slam dunk competitions
  • NBA teams that started in the ABA include:  San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, and Brooklyn Nets (formerly in New Jersey)
  • NBA All-Stars that played in the ABA:  Julius “Dr. J” Irving, Artis Gilmore, Christian Laettner, George “Iceman” Gervin
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ABA Game Rules

  • The ABA has unique rules  which allow for a faster pace leading to a higher scoring and more exciting event.
    • Guard driven league results in 48 minutes of high paced action
    • Half-Court violation: the ABA is 7 seconds opposed to 8 seconds in the NBA to get across the half-court line. If an ABA team is not successful in getting over the half-court line within 7 seconds it results in a turnover which initiates the 3D light
    • When the 3D Light is on: 2 pt. shots = 3 pts. | 3 pt. shots = 4 pts. | a half-court shot = 5 pts.
    • (6) Six Fouls leads to a technical foul and the ball | a player in the ABA cannot foul out of the game, but after six fouls it results in a technical and the opposing team gets the ball. The team that has the player with six fouls has the choice to keep that player in the game or take him out due to the fact that if he fouls again they would receive not only the foul but also a technical foul.
  • The ABA has two conferences. The BLUE conference is made up of teams that play 20 or more games during the regular season. Being in the BLUE conference a team is allowed to compete in the playoffs and championship. The RED conference is made up of teams that play 19 games or less during the regular season. The RED conference allows the teams to grow at their pace and one day move to up to the BLUE conference to compete in the playoffs and championships. * The executive committee can vote a RED conference team to compete in the playoff’s due to unforeseen circumstances.