Any time Julius “Dr. J” Erving is in your town, it’s a time for giving thanks.
Erving and many other basketball greats will visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 7 as part of the American Basketball Association’s 50th reunion celebration. Although it was short-lived, the American Basketball Association (ABA) carries an important legacy to all who love basketball, seeing as several of the game’s greats played in the league.
Many of these greats will make their way to Indy as a part of this special reunion event, including former Pacers legend George McGinnis and legendary Pacers coach Slick Leonard, Julius Erving, Spencer Haywood, Dan Issel, George Gervin, and Artis Gilmore. NBC announcer Bob Costas will serve as master of ceremonies. During the program, the list of the ABA’s all-time 50 greatest players will be announced, as voted on by a media panel.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Dropping Dimes Foundation, an Indianapolis-based charity that assists former ABA players, coaches, and team employees in need of financial or health care assistance. Those who plan on attending can expect to experience a retro ABA All-Star weekend feel in Downtown Indianapolis. A VIP reception will be held Friday, April 6, and an online auction is being organized where ABA memorabilia will be available. An autograph session, open to the public, is being planned for April 7 before the official reunion. Tables and individual tickets are on sale now.
Legendary Pacers coach Slick Leonard, who coached the Pacers to three ABA championships, looks forward to honoring a unique league with unforgettable players and personalities who left a mark on pro basketball history.
“(The ABA) was just a hell of a lot of fun, a hell of a lot of fun,” said Leonard in a news release. “And I’m telling you this reunion will be more of the same. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
The ABA, which began in 1967 with the Pacers and 10 other teams, lasted nine seasons. It ended in 1976, when the league disbanded and four franchises were absorbed into the NBA – the Pacers, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets, who have since relocated to Brooklyn.
The ABA was beset with financial problems from start to finish, competing with the more-established and stable NBA. But the talent and excitement of ABA basketball was undeniable. With its signature red-white-and-blue basketball, the ABA was innovative and flashy, featuring the 3-point shot and an All-Star slam dunk contest before the NBA implemented them. The league featured Hall of Fame players like Erving, Issel, David Thompson, Moses Malone, Rick Barry, and three former Pacers players who made the Hall of Fame – McGinnis, Roger Brown and Mel Daniels.
For more information on this historic basketball event, be sure to visit the official Dropping Dimes Foundation website.