When you mention professional basketball, any fan will immediately point to the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA has undoubtedly grown into a global league, with the best talent from around the world. However, just a few decades earlier, there was another professional basketball league that challenged the NBA’s status as the top league, known as the American Basketball Association (ABA).
What 11 teams played in the ABA? During the ABA’s launch in 1967, there were 11 teams: the New Jersey Americans, the Anaheim Amigos, the New Orleans Buccaneers, the Dallas Chaparrals, the Kentucky Colonels, the Houston Mavericks, the Minnesota Muskies, the Oakland Oaks, the Indiana Pacers, the Pittsburh Pipers, and the Denver Rockets. By the ABA’s final season in 1975-1976, only 9 teams remained. During the 1976 NBA-ABA merger, 4 ABA teams merged with the NBA.
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Which ABA team was the most successful during the ABA’s existence?
The answer for “most successful” ABA team depends on the metric that defines success. The team that won the most ABA Finals were the Indiana Pacers, with 3. The team with the best winning percentage were the Kentucky Colonels, with a .602 record over 9 seasons.
Which ABA teams changed locations and/or names?
Most ABA teams changed locations and/or names throughout the history of the league, mostly due to financial constraints and logistical barriers. Only the Indiana Pacers and the Kentucky Colonels retained their original names and locations. The following franchises who changed their names and cities are listed below:
- New Jersey Americans
- New York Nets
- Anaheim Amigos
- Los Angeles Stars
- Utah Stars
- New Orleans Buccaneers
- Louisiana Buccaneers
- Memphis Pros
- Memphis Sounds
- Memphis Tams
- Baltimore Hustlers
- Baltimore Claws
- Dallas Chaparrals
- Texas Chaparrals
- San Antonio Spurs
- Houston Mavericks
- Carolina Cougars
- Spirits of St. Louis
- Minnesota Muskies
- Miami Floridians
- Oakland Oaks
- Washington Capitals
- Virginia Squires
- Pittsburgh Pipers
- Minnesota Pipers
- Pittsburgh Pioneers
- Pittsburgh Condors
- Denver Rockets
- Denver Nuggets
Why did ABA teams change location so often?
The ABA, much like any other new league, featured much instability during its founding years. The biggest reason was that they faced competition from the already established NBA, which at the time were considered the only major professional basketball league in the US. In turn, the ABA were unable to sign a national TV contract, suffering from lower viewership. The ABA also played in smaller, less suitable stadiums, which led to lower ticket sales and other issues for the team. Therefore, many team owners changed locations often (and sometimes their team name too) to rejuvenate interest and fandom. In fact, 8 out of the 11 initial teams changed the location of the franchise at least once, and 3 teams changed locations at least three times.
Which ABA teams merged with the NBA?
A merger with the NBA was the goal of the ABA since the league was founded. Negotiations were well underway since the early 1970s, with support from both NBA and ABA owners and executives. By 1976, when the merger finally came to fruition, only 4 of the initial 11 franchises merged with the NBA. These 4 franchises were the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, and the New York Nets (renamed as the New Jersey Nets after merger).
What happened to ABA teams that did not merge with the NBA?
During the finalization of the merger with the NBA, only 6 of the 11 initial ABA teams still existed; the other 5 had folded prior to the merger. The NBA had a deal to only accept 4 ABA teams, so 2 of the ABA teams were bought out by the NBA, and their players were placed in a “dispersal” draft for NBA teams to acquire their rights. The 2 ABA teams that were bought out were the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis (originally known as the Houston Mavericks).
Which notable players played in the ABA?
While the ABA was an inferior league compared to the NBA when it came to talent, some ABA players transitioned very well to the NBA. Some former ABA players who went on to become NBA Hall of Famers include Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, Louie Dampier, George Gervin, Rick Barry, and David Thompson, among others.
Did any ABA teams ever make a comeback?
ABA teams that folded prior to the merger did not make a comeback, although NBA franchises were founded in cities where there were previously ABA teams. For example, the Chapparels played in Dallas at one point, which is now home to the Mavericks.
Why did ABA teams want to merge with the NBA?
One of the reasons the ABA was founded was to eventually merge with the NBA. Investors were wooed by the project by the fact that a team in the ABA was considerably cheaper than an NBA team, and in a planned merger, investors would be able to make considerable financial gains (by being able to own an NBA team at much lower than the usual investment cost). ABA teams were also faced by financial instability, so some even tried to join the NBA prior to the merger. To put it concisely, merging with the NBA was always the goal for ABA teams.
Did the ABA add teams after their initial 11 teams?
After the founding of the ABA, only one further team was founded: the San Diego Conquistadors. The Conquistadors were founded in 1972, and changed their name to the Sails before they ended up folding in 1975. While the ABA lasted for not even a decade, it’s had a major impact in shaping the NBA as we know it today. The ABA made it clear what the NBA was missing, which is why the merger was mostly amicable. Formerly ABA franchises continue to exist and prosper in the NBA, while some players from the ABA found stardom in the NBA once the switch was made. It’s hard to disagree when it is said the NBA owes the ABA for some of its success.