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Monday, March 05, 2012

Deron Williams Did Not Set Nets' Single Game Scoring Record

On Saturday night, Deron Williams scored a career-high 57 points in New Jersey's 104-101 victory at Charlotte. That is the most points an NBA player has scored in a game since Kobe Bryant dropped 61 points on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden--but, contrary to what you may have read or heard, Williams did not break the Nets' franchise single game scoring record. The Nets franchise began in the ABA in 1967 when they were known as the New Jersey Americans. After the 1967-68 season they changed their name to the New York Nets and after the 1976-77 season they changed their name to the New Jersey Nets. During nine ABA seasons the Nets won two ABA titles (1974 and 1976) and that second championship run featured one of the greatest single series performances in pro basketball history as Julius Erving led both teams in scoring (37.7 ppg), rebounding (14.2 rpg), assists (6.0 apg), steals (3.0 spg) and blocked shots (2.2 bpg) in the 1976 ABA Finals. During the previous season, Erving scored a career-high 63 points in a 176-166 quadruple overtime loss to the San Diego Conquistadors, one of the 48 regular season games in which Erving scored at least 40 points during his ABA/NBA career.

Erving still holds the Nets' single game scoring record as surely as Joe Namath's 4007 passing yards in 1967 for the then-AFL New York Jets remains the Jets' single season record in that category. Unfortunately, the NBA has been engaged in Orwellian-style historical revisionism for decades; James Silas once lamented to me that the Spurs' record book does not acknowledge that he scored more than 10,000 points in his career even though the team gave him a commemorative ball at the time that he reached that milestone achievement. Silas mentioned this to me several years ago, so I just checked the Spurs' 2012 Media Guide online to see if anything as changed but in the former players section the Media Guide inexplicably does not include Silas' first season with the franchise--when he scored 1071 points for the team then known as the Dallas Chaparrals--and it segregates Silas's ABA Spurs points from his NBA Spurs points without listing a combined total (there is a section of the Media Guide that briefly discusses the Spurs' ABA history and lists the team's ABA statistics but that history and those numbers are artificially separated from the rest of the team's statistics and history).

No matter how much the NBA, the Elias Sports Bureau and complicit media outlets try to deny the real history the truth cannot and should not be buried: ABA statistics exist and they should be fully acknowledged by the NBA just like the NFL fully acknowledges AFL statistics. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is finally recognizing ABA legends like Mel Daniels and Artis Gilmore so the next step is for the NBA and its four former ABA franchises (Pacers, Nets, Nuggets and Spurs) to proudly and fully acknowledge ABA history and ABA statistics.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:05 AM



At Monday, March 05, 2012 4:19:00 PM, Anonymous Michael Joseph said...

It is a shame that the NBA doesn't pay any real respect to the ABA. The ABA is treated like the freak brother that is locked in the attic by his parents so that nobody knows he exists, and whenever somebody mentions him, they quickly change the subject.

It is entirely possible that the ratings boom the NBA experienced in the 1980s (which saved the league from folding) would have never happened if they hadn't merged with and adopted the playing style of the ABA. Classic revisionist history.

At Monday, March 05, 2012 5:16:00 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

It's a real travesty that the NBA somehow discredits and forgets all that had happened in the ABA. Before reading your blog regularly, I never knew just how great Julius Erving was as a complete basketball player and how dominant Artis Gilmore was as well.

I think it would look great on Adam Silver once he becomes the NBA commissioner to somehow reincorporate the ABA stats and merge them with the NBA stats.

It's inexcusable for David Stern and main media outlets to not give credit to the ABA and its success.


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