If you ask former ABA players, executives and fans about the various sportswriters who gave the ABA proper coverage, the name "Jim O'Brien" is invariably mentioned first. For virtually the entire span of the ABA (1967-1976), Jim O'Brien covered the league for both the New York Post and The Sporting News. For many basketball fans across the country, Jim's weekly columns in The Sporting News provided the only available national media coverage of the red, white and blue league.
During the ABA's existence, Jim authored several editions of "The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball," and edited several leading basketball magazines. In 1972, Jim combined many of his best interviews with ABA players, and published the softcover book "ABA All-Stars." This book was available at several ABA arenas. In fact, in the HBO Special on the ABA, the book may be seen (briefly) on sale at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis. The above biographies are from "ABA All-Stars" and are reprinted here with Jim's permission.
During the past four years, many ABA fans have written to this web page asking whether Jim is still writing about the ABA. He does not currently have any plans to write a book strictly about the ABA. However, in 1999, he published a brand new book called "Hometown Heroes -- Profiles in Sports and Spirit." This book contains profiles of 40 of the finest athletes from Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and northern West Virginia. The book includes extensive pieces on two ABA players: Connie Hawkins and Billy Knight. There are also six to eight photos from the ABA Reunion in Indianapolis (Jim attended the Reunion and reacquainted himself with many ABA personalities). "Hometown Heroes" is 432 pages long, with over 225 photos (it also contains profiles on the likes of Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Jim Leyland, Curtis Martin, Armon Gilliam, Johnny Lujack, Johnny Majors, Sam Huff, Jerry West and John Havlicek). So if you liked Jim's ABA coverage of the past, give this book a try. It is available at $29.95 (including shipping), by sending check or money order to: James P. O'Brien -- Publishing, P.O. Box 12580, Pittsburgh, PA 15241. If you order the book, Jim encourages you to include a note as to how you would like the book signed by the author.
Besides "Hometown Heroes," what has Jim been up to? In the last eight years, Jim has published eight books, including "We Had 'Em All the Way -- Bob Prince and his Pittsburgh Pirates," "Keep the Faith -- the Steelers of Two Different Eras," "Remember Roberto -- Clemente Recalled by Teammates, Family, Friends and Fans," and "Maz and the '60 Bucs -- When Pittsburgh and Its Pirates Went All the Way." In 1997, Jim was presented the Bob Prince award. He was inducted into the western chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Currently, he writes a column for The Almanac and The Valley Mirror.