“Cool, I own a semi-pro basketball team! Oh wait, nevermind…”
~ABA Team Owner
The American Basketball Association, or ABA, was a major professional league that competed against the NBA until the two leagues merged in 1976. The American Basketball Association, or ABA, is also a semi-pro basketball minor league founded in the year 2000 that is, just, lol.
These are very different leagues. Now, yes, the new ABA was co-founded by Richard Tinkham, one of the co-founders of the original American Basketball Association, and sure, they pay players to play basketball, but otherwise, the similarities stop there. Since its founding, the new and not-really-improved ABA has weathered an NBA lawsuit and the folding of over 350 teams, which is a success rate that you’d expect more from open heart surgery in the 19th century than from viable semi-professional sport franchises.
But this weird, unique, American Basketball Association, for all its nuances, is truly America at its finest. It’s democratic, letting just about any asshole buy their own basketball team…which they often do.
But this one is going to take a bit longer to unpack. Four articles, in fact. One to tell you about the league. One to tell you about the teams. And two to tell you about the comically ridiculous teams that tried, and failed, to become successful franchises in the ABA. Because, oh boy, there are a lot of those. A lot. Let’s dive in to the most insane basketball league ever invented.