So they tell me it's 35 years now since they put the ABA in the ground -- God rest you, Billy Paultz, and Zelmo Beaty, too -- and so again I go digging through the back hall closet for my little red-white-and-blue beauty. A Pacer Ball, we used to call it, but officially it was an American Basketball Association Ball. And it was the best basketball ever made.
Nothing was quite like the sight of an ABA ball spinning red-and-white-and-blue-and-red-and-white-and-blue against a blue afternoon sky on the outdoor courts, and nothing was quite like the ABA, either. It had Paultz, aka the Whopper. It had Zelmo. It had Fly Williams and Marvin "Bad News" Barnes playing on the single most psychotic team in history, the Spirits of St. Louis, and Darnell Hillman and Artis Gilmore vying for the title of World's Tallest Afro.
The ABA brought the 3-pointer to basketball, and also personality. Dr. J learned to fly there, but not before the Hawk, Connie Hawkins, flew first. Mel Daniels and Roger Brown and Freddie Lewis and George McGinnis made the Pacers royalty. George Gervin became the oddest-looking scoring machine in history in the ABA. And who could forget the Anaheim Amigos, the Dallas Chaparrals, the Virginia Squires, the Oakland Oaks?
Those were the days. And, to remember them, here's a little ABA quiz for your entertainment, courtesy of ESPN.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll take my Pacer Ball and go shoot a few. Billy Keller for three!