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Did the NBA buy the ABA?

No, the NBA and the ABA merged with each other in 1976. Before that, they were rivals, fighting for players and fans. The merger was done to increase the popularity of basketball in the United States, make it more financially sound and bring all the best players together in one competition.

“I’m so happy I can’t feel my arms”

After 3 decades, the ABA ceased to exist, the league is still remembered in many people’s hearts. In the following article, we will have a look at how the situation unfolded.

How did ABA operate?

In 1967, the NBA had ten teams and the rules were very strict for those wishing to join the league, in particular, the entry fee was $1.5 million, while the profits of the teams were far from the current ones. As a result, businessmen in several cities decided to create an alternative professional basketball league that could rival the NBA, with an eye to merging the leagues some time later.

The first commissioner of the ABA was the famous player of the Minneapolis Lakers, George Mikan. The ABA clubs managed to win the fight over the NBA for several high-class players.

The differences between NBA and ABA

The ABA had rules different from the NBA rules: teams were given 30 seconds to attack instead of 24 in the NBA, and in the 1967/1968 season a three-point zone was introduced, which appeared in the NBA only twelve years later. Also, the ABA officially used a multi-coloured (red-white-blue) ball, while the NBA played a standard orange ball. Another important difference from the NBA was the presence in the ABA of regional teams such as the Virginia Squires and the Carolina Cougars, who played their home games at the sites of different cities in their states.

How did the negotiations begin?

Negotiations to merge the ABA and the NBA began in the summer of 1970, but as a result of a lawsuit by Oscar Robertson against the NBA, in which he demanded more rights for the players, the court postponed the merger. The existence of the ABA has contributed to the growth of competition between clubs and, as a result, the salaries of players. In 1976, the merger was finally carried out, but many ABA clubs by this time had already ceased to exist due to lack of funding. Only four clubs moved to the NBA: the New York Nets, the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, and the San Antonio Spurs. Of the association’s eleven teams, only two of them, the Indiana Pacers and the Kentucky Colonels have never changed their name or location during the nine seasons of their existence. In addition to them, the Denver Larks / Rockets / Nuggets club, which was originally planned to be founded in Kansas City (Missouri), has never changed its home base, but then had to be transferred to Denver due to the lack of a suitable arena.

In addition to the four clubs that joined the NBA as a result of the league merger, eight more teams survived that later inherited their roots in the old league and transferred them to the new one: Dallas, Miami, Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans, Houston, Charlotte and Utah. In 2001, during the move of the Vancouver Grizzlies, Louisville, Kentucky, the former home of the Kentucky Colonels, was considered as one of four finalists for the club’s new location, but Memphis was ultimately selected.

Who were the initial Commissioners?

Former Minneapolis Lakers player George Miaen became the first ABA commissioner to introduce the concept of the three-point line and the league’s trademark red, white, and blue. Mikan retired in 1969. Dave DeBusschere, a two-time NBA champion with the New York Knicks, became the league’s last commissioner before the NBA merged with the NBA in 1976, serving as vice president and general manager of the New York Nets in the 1974/1975 season.

Are there contenders for expansion?

Louisville is now a top contender for the next expansion or relocation of the NBA, with the city’s new 22,000-capacity CFS Yam Center, which far exceeds the capacity of Freedom Hall, the former home arena. “Colonels” (16,600 fans). In 1999, a new league was created, which received a similar name. This league also uses a multi-colored (red-white-blue) ball, but unlike the original ABA, it does not feature players of such a high level as in the NBA, in addition, the games of the teams of the new league do not take place in large arenas, and are not broadcast on TV.

Indiana Pacers – the most successful team in the ABA

The Pacers remain the most successful club during the ABA period. They won the championship title 3 times and in the last season, they also ended the season with a championship. We should note that after they moved to the NBA, they had some problems because of the financial problems, but they quickly stood on their feet.

The same progress that they had in the ABA did not continue in the NBA. In fact, they did not make it to the NBA Finals until 2000, when they had Reggie Miller in the lineup. Also the Pacers lost twice against the Miami Heat in 2013 and 2014, thus not going to the Finals. The successive period can be called as reorganization, because the team drafted numerous youngsters in the roster.