Balling is not a hobby or a pastime. Balling is a way of life. From the threads to the culture, basketball is easily the coolest sport in the country. And while the off-court antics and press conference interviews are enough to keep any sports fan satisfied, it doesn’t hurt that this game is so damn fun to watch.
What other sport has drama like basketball? What other game has built legends like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, or Steph Curry? Yeah, that’s what we thought.
The NBA is the biggest basketball league, period. While international leagues offer players a chance to tour the world, the truth is, if you wanna play ball in the States, you wanna be drafted into the NBA. For high school and college players, that’s the dream. But not too long ago, players had other options.
The American Basketball Association stretched from 1960 through the mid-1970s as a part of multiple efforts to infringe on the NBA’s dominance. This effort actually extended across major professional sports and leagues, but basketball was widely considered to have the best shot for disruption, considering the NBA’s relative youth.
The league had only 21 seasons under its belt by 1960. The ABA played a slightly different game than the NBA at the time, opting for a longer shot-clock and including the three-pointer shot we all know and love today. Yes, that’s right, the NBA did not always honor a three — that rule got incorporated in 1979.
The ABA eventually merged with the NBA in 1976 but not before leaving an impressive mark on professional basketball. Beyond the three-pointer, the ABA also gave us the Slam Dunk Contest, the framework for the NBA draft, and some major teams like the Indiana Pacers, the New York Nets (now of Brooklyn), and the Utah Jazz.
Not every ABA team made the final cut in the merger, though, as you may be familiar with. The Kentucky Colonels, the Spirits of St. Louis, the Pittsburgh Condors, and the New Jersey Americans are all gone but hardly forgotten.
Other minor and major leagues have popped up here and there, including the International Basketball Association, the World Basketball League, and the Continental Basketball Association. None had the staying power of the NBA, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of repping for a throwback.