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.