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Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Legacy of the ABA

This year is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the ABA, the league that popularized the three-point shot, the Slam Dunk contest and the concept of players leaving college early to turn pro. The ABA also brought us Julius Erving's incomparable high-wire act, George Gervin's finger roll and four teams that have been part of the NBA landscape for three decades: Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs.

What do you give a league that provided so much--and no longer exists? Recognition. The ABA's history is shrouded in legend, myth and folklore. I don't know if the upcoming Well Ferrell movie that loosely references the ABA will do much to improve that or not but what the NBA and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame should do is assemble a committee--modeled on the one that Major League Baseball formed regarding neglected Negro Leaguers--and acknowedge the contributions of neglected ABA players, including Artis Gilmore, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown and others. Hopefully, that will happen someday. Meanwhile, take a trip down memory lane with David Thompson, Earl Monroe and Maurice Lucas in my NBCSports.com tribute to the ABA:

The Legacy of the ABA

posted by David Friedman @ 3:12 PM



At Saturday, April 14, 2007 3:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a really beautiful article. One of your best that I can remember.

At Saturday, April 14, 2007 5:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article. Recognition has come so late to the ABA, and it makes me a little sad. Basketball isn't kind to its history under the best of circumstances, and the prevailing legacy of the league will ultimately be reduced to a few clips of Irving and Thompson, plus the usual "Loose Balls" tales. But where are the Byron Beck 15-foot hookshots, the Gerald Govans and Julius Keyes types, not to mention uncanny marksmen like Glen Combs and George Lehmann (maybe the greatest pure shooting technician I ever saw)? They don't fit into the popularized picture. I guess those memories will always play in deserted gyms, just like most of the games back in the day. Ah, well.


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