On this date, 40 years ago the American Basketball Association (ABA) played their final game when the New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-106 in game six of the ABA finals. New York and Denver were joined by the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers in a merger with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1976. The merger brought down the curtain on the ABA after nine seasons.
The ABA was formed in 1967 intent on competing with the more established NBA. The league offered a more wide-open style of play with a 30-second shot clock and originated the three-point arc. The ABA was also known for its colorful red, white and blue basketball.
The ABA debuted in 1967 with the Pittsburgh Pipers, Minnesota Muskies, Indiana Pacers, Kentucky Colonels and New Jersey Americans in the Eastern Division. The New Orleans Buccaneers, Dallas Chaparrals, Denver Rockets, Houston Mavericks, Anaheim Amigos and Oakland Oaks competed in the Western Division. Of the original 11 franchises, only the Indiana Pacers and Kentucky Colonels played every season without relocating to other cities.
Indiana made the most championship appearances (5) and won the most titles (3).
The ABA also tried a new concept in sports franchises with “regional teams”. The regional was not very successful as the Carolina Cougars, Virginia Squires, Floridians failed to develop a consistent fan base due to rotating among several cities.
The most notable players for the ABA were Julius Erving, Rick Barry, George McInnis, Dan Issel, Spencer Haywood and Artis Gilmore.
Although the ABA was entertaining, the lack of a national television contract and increasing financial losses doomed the league.
The San Antonio Spurs are the only former ABA franchise to ever win an NBA title.