The American Basketball Association and the Contributions it Made to Professional Basketball The American Basketball Association had a short and wild life, yet it made great contributions to professional basketball. It increased the level of talent, changed the way the game was played, and produced some of the greatest stars to ever play the game. It also caused an increase in player salaries and turned pro basketball into a financial institution. The ABA was a place for untapped talent to emerge. Many players proved themselves in the ABA while the National Basketball Association rejected them.
This greatly increased the talent level throughout professional hoops. At the same time of the creation of the ABA, the NBA only had 120 players, which meant that many worthy players were not getting the chance to play (Sachare 178). With about 90 players in the ABA, they got their chance. The ABA started to draft college players to compete with the NBA. Because both leagues wanted the best players, the ABA made a rule which said that the draftee did not have to be a college graduate.
The NBA had a rule which said that the draftee must have graduated from college. As a result, many college stars began to go straight into the ABA before graduating. One which did this was Moses Malone, he was the first player to come straight out of high school into professional sports (Pluto 435). This was a revolutionary event in the history of professional sports. Now days, most college stars go to the pros without graduating. The ABA had a style of its own.
Newsweek once described them, “Sex, drugs, platform shoes, sideburns, slam dunks, midnight franchise shifts, million dollar deferred-payment player contracts, the three-point shot, Dr. J, Marvin (Bad News) Barnes, LaVerne (Jelly) Tart,and Pat Boone. Pro sports the way they oughta be!” (Pluto 465) They were the complete opposite of the NBA. The NBA was traditional and boring to watch. They played a much slower paced game than the ABA, who had an up tempo, fast paced game.
The ABA made innovations such as the three-point shot, the tricolored ball, the defensive press, and most importantly, the fast break (Pluto 70). They were the pioneers which made today’s game what it is. The defensive press and the fast break were attempts at creating an up tempo game, and they worked. They all helped to sell tickets which enabled the ABA to survive for the nine years that they did. The ABA and the NBA were always competing which brought about many new and exciting aspects to the game of basketball.
The ABA created some of the greatest players ever. Players like Julius Erving and Moses Malone were the soul of the ABA. At its end in 1975, they introduced all of the great accomplishments and innovations into the NBA which made the combined league even greater. With the tradition of the NBA and the flair of the ABA, a new league was created which would become the greatest sports institution in the world. During the first combined season of the NBA, four of the top ten scorers and ten of the twenty-four all-stars were from the ABA.
The first combined finals had five starters from the ABA (Sachare 186). The contribution which the ABA made to professional basketball was amazing. It gave it creativity along with history. The NBA may not have survived without the combination of the ABA. In essence, the ABA was the NBA’s savior, and made huge contributions to the talent level and the history of the game. The ABA was a league which made great contributions to professional basketball by increasing the talent level, producing some great innovations like the three-point shot which is still used today, and producing some of the greatest players ever.
The NBA of today was made from the ABA of old, and even though it had such a short life, it was one of the most important aspects in the history of professional basketball. Bibliography Brown, Kim (1996). The FIrst Dominant Big Man. HTTP: http://www.nba.com/nbaat50/mikan.html. Kirshenbaum, Jerry. “ABA Milestones”.
Sports Illustrated 17 May, 1993:15. Meely, Cliff. Personal Interveiw. 16 December, 1996. Pluto, Terry. Loose Balls.
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Inc., 1990. Sachare, Alex (Ed.). The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. New York: Villiard Books, 1994. .