BOSTON — In an era of short shorts and big afros, the American Basketball Association was a symbol of the 1970s.
The league began in the spring of 1967, characterized by flamboyant players, halftime antics, and a red, white, and blue basketball that one official quipped "belongs on the nose of a seal."
The more outrageous, the better. There were cow-miking contests at halftime, and one coach paced the sidelines in overalls. Team names included the Anaheim (Calif.) Amigos and the Pittsburgh Pipers. One player had a new refrigerator included in his contract.
But the league didn't catch on. The National Basketball Association was doing better, but attendance at ABA games averaged 2,804 the first year. For one game in Houston, only 87 spectators showed up. Teams began to apply to join the NBA. Others folded. In June 1976, the league ceased to exist.
But starting next year, the ABA will be back, says Clyde Smoll, director of league operations. A dozen cities, from New York to Memphis, Tenn., will host teams. Mr. Smoll says that rule changes will speed up the game and reduce the amount of physical contact seen in the NBA.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society