October 5, 2013: ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series has touched on many sports stories and topics, but never the ABA - until now.
Catch "Free Spirits" on the ESPN flagship network this coming Tuesday, October 8 at 8PM ET. Free Spirits tells the story of the Spirits of St. Louis - from the emergence and antics of all-star Marvin Barnes, to their rookie radio play-by-play announcer Bob Costas, the team's incredible 1975 playoff upset of the defending champion New York Nets, and the unbelievable financial deal that the Spirits' owners made at the time of the ABA/NBA merger in June 1976 (otherwise known as the "Best Deal in Sports").
October 4, 2013: Sadly, all-time ABA center Zelmo Beaty died on August 27, 2013.
After jumping to the ABA from the St. Louis Hawks, Zelmo (above, # 31) anchored the middle for the Utah Stars during their glory days in the ABA. He helped carry the Stars to their sole ABA Championship in the 1970-71 season. In January 1976, after his departure from the Stars, Zelmo stepped into a very difficult coaching position with the Virginia Squires. He was the Squires' sixth coach that season, and brought some class to a very precarious situation. Zelmo will always be remembered for his toughness and professionalism.
After Zelmo's passing, the best tribute I read came from Stefan Fatsis, writing for Slate Magazine. Zelmo, you will be missed.
While this honor came far too late for Roger to enjoy with his family, they and ABA Pacers fans are surely happy that both he and Mel Daniels have now received the ultimate honor in basketball. Hopefully, Slick Leonard will join his players in the Hall, and Louie Dampier is still waiting patiently in the wings.
Lloyd "Pinky" Gardner was the longtime medical trainer for the ABA's Kentucky Colonels. In 1976, when the ABA finally gave up the ghost, Pinky saved a variety of Colonels uniforms, photos and historical items from the trash. He also happened to save some unforgettable memories of the team and the league itself.
If you're interested in the history of the Kentucky Colonels and the ABA, you must check out the book Pinky has written along with co-author Gary P. West. This book was no small effort to complete - it has 352 pages of interviews, memories, and photos, mostly centering around the Colonels franchise. You'll get inside first-hand information about Louie Dampier, Ziggy, Penny Ann Early, John Tong, Mike Storen, Darel Carrier, Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore, Hubie Brown, and just about every other personality connected with the team from 1967 to 1976. Pinky's year-to-year memories are especially interesting. They demonstrate all the highs and lows of working for a pro basketball team in a struggling league. Overall, the book provides hours of fascinating material for any fan of the Colonels or the ABA. 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.
Most of you ABA and Denver Nuggets fans know that David Thompson's autobiography "Skywalker" was published in 2004. It's a great read. However, many of you may not be aware of the amazing David Thompson documentary film ("Skywalker - The David Thompson Story"). The film was produced by Rick Clemens at TriMotion Films. It aired on the College Sports Television cable network earlier this year, but is now available on both DVD and VHS. If you are an ABA fan, or just a Denver Nuggets fan, you should see this documentary. There lots of ABA photos (some from Remember the ABA). There are a few ABA video clips. You will also see numerous post-merger photos and video clips of D.T. (with the Nuggets) slamming dunks home over helpless opponents. They really searched the archives for these - many of the photos have never been published before. And, most of the video clips have not been seen since they originally aired the 1970's.
Larry Berman was the official photographer for the New York Nets during their later ABA years (1974-1976). His Erving and other Nets photos (several of which are used on this web site) are absolutely spectacular. If you're looking for an 8x10 print of Dr. J, or various other ABA stars (including Moses Malone, George McGinnis and Artis Gilmore), check out Larry's Erving/ABA photo galleries at www.bermansports.com. Larry has some special price rates available for Remember the ABA visitors.
I've uploaded a few ABA game action screensavers (Dampier/Erving, McGinnis, Issel/Beaty) and four Remember the ABA promotional posters (Big Hair, Pittsburgh Condors, John Brisker, and Only in the ABA) to the ABA Discussion Group page. The promo posters were recently created by the Cramer-Krasselt ad agency on a pro bono basis (thanks to David Yang and Michael Herlehy).
In 2000, Remember the ABA was nominated for a "Webby" Award in the category of best sports web site. Four other sites were nominated in the same category: espn.com, foxsports.com, quokka.com, and sportsjones.com (pretty stiff competition). Thank you to all of you who have helped to place this site in such elite company (you know who you are!).
The famous slam dunk contest held at halftime of the 1976 ABA All-Star Game was one of those serendipitous decisions that was typical of the ABA, a maverick league that seldom planned anything too far in advance. It was an act born of desperation, but desperate times demand desperate measures. And the ABA was in decidedly desperate times. Read all about the dunk contest in Michael Murphy's comprehensive article about the ABA: "The ABA Way"
In honor of San Antonio's 1999 appearance in the NBA Finals, the CNN/SI web site posted a color photo essay on the red, white and blue league. Each of the photos (11 of them) appeared in Sports Illustrated from 1970 to 1976. Check out Artis Gilmore dunking in the Pittsburgh Civic Arena against John Brisker and the Condors.