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(updated July 12, 2015)

ABA Team Histories & Fan Memories

Kentucky Colonels - Shots from the SidelinesWhen Lloyd "Pinky" Gardner published his first book about the Kentucky Colonels in 2011, he didn't expect to publish another one. But then he found out that longtime Colonels photographer Mark Gordon kept all of his precious slides and negatives of Colonels action. Pinky's new book is a showcase of over 400 over these photos.
Mark's ABA action photos span the period of the 1970-71 season all the way through the end of the 1975-76 playoffs. They are mostly black & white, but there is a special color section as well. These photos cover longtime Colonels favorites like Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, Louie Dampier, Wil Jones, Wendell Ladner and and Ron Thomas. But they also show fantastic game action of other ABA legends, like Rick Barry, Julius Erving, Mel Daniels, Roger Brown, Marvin Barnes, and Zelmo Beaty. Plus, there are some fantastic locker room, celebration, and background shots from the Colonels' 1975 ABA Finals victory. And, a variety of photos from ABA vs. NBA exhibition games, where the Colonels took on the likes of the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Baltimore/Washington Bullets, and Milwaukee Bucks.
All of the photos are captioned by Pinky to provide some background and history. If you are an ABA fan, "Kentucky Colonels - Shots from the Sidelines" is a gorgeous 224-page coffee table-quality book that you will enjoy from cover to cover. If you want to buy a copy of the book, just e-mail Pinky for purchasing information. Let him know you learned about the book from Remember the ABA. He'll be glad to sell you an autographed copy.

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