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.


Brown, Kim (1996). The FIrst Dominant Big Man.


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.