The NBA Is Finally Taking Care Of Old ABA Players

The league and the players association will be funding a pension for the former players.

The National Basketball Association as a business has done its best in trying to wipe out the existence of the American Basketball Association’s nine years of life. But the NBA of today looks like the ABA which was in business between 1967 and 1976 and ceased to exist after the NBA took in four franchises, Denver, Indiana, New York and San Antonio. The NBA gladly accepted ABA owners’ money to join the league and certainly welcomed players like Julius Erving into the fold. Twelve of the 24 1977 NBA All Star Game players were from the ABA. The ABA introduced an entertainment-All-Star Game concept, borrowed the three-point play from the defunct American Basketball League which lasted a bit less than a year and a half. But the NBA never acknowledged the ABA record book and never took care of ABA players as in giving them a pension.

The NBA along with the National Basketball Players Association were shamed into taking care of ABA players, some of whom had spent some time in the NBA, and they are now going to get a modest pension and some health benefits. The NBA board of governors will send $24.5 million to about 115 former American Basketball Association players, who played three or more years in the ABA or parts of three seasons in the ABA and NBA but never qualified for a pension. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the players and team governors “felt a need to act on behalf of these former ABA players who are aging and, in many cases, facing difficult economic circumstances. These pioneers made meaningful contributions to help grow the game of professional basketball and we all believe it’s appropriate to provide financial recognition to this group for their impact.” What Silver didn’t say is that an Indianapolis-based group begged the NBA for help for eight years. Better late than never.

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Julius Erving hugging Bobby Jones, two former ABA players.