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(updated September 20, 2017)

ABA Team Histories & Fan Memories

We Changed the Game - 1967-1976We've been blessed by a spate of great ABA books lately. We Changed the Game is another book about the Pacers by Bob Netolicky (an original Pacer), the late Richard Tinkham (co-founder and legal counsel for the ABA Pacers), and Robin Miller (beat writer for the ABA Pacers with the Indianapolis Star). If you've wondered how a championship team can be built in a new league, in a location no one expected, and with a coach and players who landed in the Hall of Fame, We Changed the Game gives you all the answers. But the book approaches the Pacers from a unique and unusual "insider" perspective. It isn't a collection of press clippings. Instead, it conveys the direct memories of the players, coaches, trainer, front office personnel, gameday workers, and writers, all of whom made up the extended Pacers ABA Family.
You'll get the true story of how the Pacers almost ceased to exist after the 1968-69 season (and only got a reprieve by overcoming their 3-1 playoff deficit to the Kentucky Colonels). You'll also get some backroom detail on how Market Square Arena was planned and built, despite the franchise's financial issues. And, coming full circle, you'll read the inside details of the "Save the Pacers" Telethon of 1977, where the Pacers once again needed saving after they entered the NBA.
And, the true "Family Members" certainly don't hold anything back - you'll read some "colorful" off-the-court stories that can't be repeated in polite company. And who would expect anything less from Neto, who owned and operated "Neto's in the Meadows" - a nightclub where anything could (and did) happen far into the night after the final buzzer sounded?
The book is 176 pages and has a surprising number of ABA/Pacers historical photos and documentation - if you're a Pacers or ABA fan, you won't soon forget the colorful (and "off-color") stories found here.
A 16-page sample of the book (including the full chapter listing, the Preface, and Chapter 1) can be viewed here.
The book can be purchased from Amazon here, or directly from Hilton Publishing here. But no matter where you buy a copy of the book, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Dropping Dimes Foundation - this is the 501(c)(3) charitable organiztion that provides grants of financial support to former ABA players who face severe financial hardship. All in all, a great book and a great cause.

If you can identify any of the pro basketball players and coaches pictured above and to the left (click on them to see if you're right), then you remember the "red, white and blue" league: the defunct American Basketball Association.

The ABA existed from 1967 to 1976 -- for nine full seasons. During that time, the ABA fought a bitter war with the established National Basketball Association (the NBA) for players, fans, and media attention. In June 1976, the two rival pro leagues finally made peace. Four of the strongest ABA teams (the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs) joined the NBA and survived. The other remaining ABA teams (the Kentucky Colonels, the Spirits of St. Louis, and the Virginia Squires) vanished, along with the ABA itself.

However, the ABA is still vividly remembered by its loyal fans. The ABA was the "outlaw" league with the psychedelic red, white and blue basketball, outlandish promotions, and huge afros. It was the "lively" league that adopted the three-point shot -- the exciting "home run" of basketball -- as its own.

The ABA was the "frontier" league that successfully brought (or returned) modern professional basketball to hoops-crazy cities like Indianapolis, San Antonio, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Charlotte/Greensboro, Louisville, Norfolk, and Denver. ABA franchises succeeded and even thrived in these locations.

The ABA was also the league without any business sense. The ABA placed unstable franchises in cities like Pittsburgh, Memphis, Miami, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Houston, Baltimore and Anaheim. For various reasons, these teams struggled to survive. Eventually they disappeared or relocated, leaving their few fans with some strange and indelible memories.

During the course of its existence, the ABA featured dazzling above-the-rim players like Julius ("Dr. J") Erving, Connie Hawkins, George ("Ice") Gervin, David Thompson, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, Roger Brown and Dan (the "Horse") Issel. Each of these electric stars first played professional basketball in the ABA -- with young legs and few limitations. The "frontier spirit" of the ABA also led to a group of memorable characters. The ABA had a coach named "Slick" and players named "Whopper," "Fatty" and "Goo." And, who could ever forget Marvin "Bad News" Barnes, "Mr. Excitement" Wendell Ladner, Warren Jabali, and Babe "Magnolia Mouth" McCarthy? But all of these brilliant ABA artists went on stage in front of notoriously small crowds. Most ABA teams had serious attendance problems and almost no national or local television coverage.

As a result, the colorful history of the ABA is almost entirely word-of-mouth. The purpose of this web site is to preserve this history, and provide a much needed space for ABA fans to share their favorite memories. This web page is actually a "collaborative" work--all of the photos, uniforms, and memories on this page have been contributed by various ABA fans across the country. If you would like to help in any way, please click here to find out more.

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Larry BrownWillie WiseDan Issel"Pogo Joe" CaldwellDarnell HillmanArtis GilmoreJulius "Dr. J" ErvingBilly KnightDavid ThompsonJulius "Dr. J" Erving