The American Basketball Association (ABA) wasn't just another basketball league; it was a vibrant carnival of hoops that introduced a fresh, dynamic approach to the sport. Founded in 1967, the ABA was a rebel with a cause, challenging the staid NBA with flair and innovation. It wasn't just about playing games; it was about putting on a show. The league introduced the three-point line and the slam dunk contest, which have since become staples in basketball culture.

Iconic ABA Players

When you talk about the ABA, you can't help but mention stars like Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, and Julius "Dr. J" Erving. These players didn't just play the game; they were pioneers of a new style of play that combined athleticism with entertainment. Gilmore, with his towering presence and formidable playing style, and Gervin, with his smooth moves and scoring prowess, left an indelible mark on the game.

Teams That Made History

The ABA was home to teams that became legends in their own right. The Indiana Pacers, New York Nets, and Denver Nuggets were among the franchises that not only competed fiercely but also won the hearts of many fans. The Pacers, in particular, were a powerhouse, clinching three ABA championships thanks to players like Mel Daniels and George McGinnis.

The ABA-NBA Merger

In 1976, the ABA and NBA merged, a move that reshaped professional basketball in the United States. This merger wasn't just a blending of teams; it was a fusion of styles. The NBA absorbed four ABA teams: the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, and San Antonio Spurs. This integration brought a new level of excitement and competition to the NBA, thanks to the infusion of ABA talent and innovation.

Slam Dunk! The Legacy of the ABA Contest

One of the most thrilling contributions of the ABA to basketball was the inception of the slam dunk contest. First held in 1976, this event allowed players like Julius Erving to showcase their creativity and athleticism, bringing fans to their feet and adding an extra layer of excitement to the All-Star Game festivities.

Innovations That Changed the Game

The ABA wasn't afraid to experiment. Apart from the slam dunk contest, it introduced the three-point line, a game-changer that added a new strategic dimension to basketball. This innovation forced players and teams to adapt and evolve, influencing strategies even in today's game.

More Than Just a Game

ABA games were more than just sporting events; they were spectacles. With its distinctive red, white, and blue basketball and a more relaxed approach to player attire, the ABA embraced a flashier, more entertaining style of basketball that contrasted sharply with the NBA's more conservative image.

The Cultural Impact

The influence of the ABA extended beyond the hardwood floors of the basketball courts. It impacted pop culture, contributing to a more flamboyant and expressive style of sportsmanship that resonated with the public and media alike. The league's emphasis on fun and entertainment helped to broaden basketball's appeal to a wider audience.

Unsung Heroes

While stars like Erving and Gervin stole the spotlight, other players like Louie Dampier and Dan Issel played crucial roles in their teams and contributed significantly to the league's success. These players, though less celebrated, were vital cogs in their respective teams, helping to elevate the level of competition and excitement in the ABA.

The ABA Today

Though the ABA as a league no longer exists, its spirit lives on in the NBA. The annual All-Star Weekend, particularly the slam dunk contest, keeps the ABA's innovative and fun spirit alive. The league's emphasis on speed, style, and scoring continues to influence how modern basketball is played and enjoyed.

ABA Basketball Players FAQ

Please browse through our frequently asked questions to learn more about ABA basketball players.

What is the ABA Basketball League? 

The American Basketball Association (ABA) was a professional basketball league founded in 1967 that introduced several innovative features to the sport, including the three-point line and the slam dunk contest, before merging with the NBA in 1976.

Which ABA teams joined the NBA?

In the 1976 merger, four ABA teams joined the NBA: the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, and San Antonio Spurs.

How did the ABA influence modern basketball?

The ABA's introduction of the slam dunk contest and the three-point line added new dimensions to the game that are integral to modern basketball. Its emphasis on entertainment and flair also influenced the style and presentation of today's NBA games.

What was the average salary of an ABA player?

The average salary for an ABA player in the 1975-76 season was around $35,000. This pales in comparison to the average NBA player's salary at the time, which was approximately $200,000.

Who is the best player in ABA history?

This is a debated topic, but many consider Julius Erving, also known as "Dr. J," to be the best player in ABA history.


The American Basketball Association was more than just a basketball league; it was a revolutionary force that reshaped the sport. With its bold innovations like the slam dunk contest and the three-point line, it introduced new excitement and flair to basketball. The legacy of the ABA lives on in the NBA, reminding us of a time when basketball was not just a game but a spectacular show.