I was listening to a local rock radio station here in Toronto, and they announced that the ABA was coming to Hamilton, Ontario. I perked up a bit because I thought the ABA died out in the late seventies like the progressive rock movement (which died out with awful pop and hair bands of the 80s).
Apparently the re-surge of the ABA came in 2003-2004 as teams around the US opened training camp doors to ex-college players who had found it difficult to make an NBA, D-League or Euro team.
Though the talent may be sub-par compared to the pro-game, there is certainly not a shortage of talent or teams.
The 2007-2008 season had recently got underway with 29 teams eagerly awaiting tip-off. What makes this league so special is their internationalization of teams, and not just players. Teams range from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Tijuana, Mexico to a Bahamian team and a team representing the Asian communities called the Beijing-Aoshen Olympian based out of California.
An indication of the talent level in the league was seen in last year's NBA draft as the Lakers selected Sun Yue, a former Beijing Olympian, in the second round.
I am totally unsure as to how much publicity, or viewership these teams and games receive throughout the U.S (because I live in Toronto) but it seems that the league continues to thrive with another 27 teams looking to come into the league as expansion teams for the 2008-2009 season.
How the league will accommodate over 50 teams in uncertain to me, however for a league to garner so much interest by businessmen, ex-ball players and lovers of the game makes it appear that something is going right.
Could it be differing rules of the ABA juxtaposed to the pro game?
Let's take a look:
The ABA has a 3-D rule where after a turnover 2 point shots are worth 3, while a 3 pointer is worth four. This goes on until a basket is scored where the 3-D is turned off.
Another rule constitutes overtime games, in which a player who has fouled out, may return for OT. If the game is not settled after the first OT, the teams play up to 10 in the second OT, something you may see on the street rather than in a gym.
Finally, the league emphasizes a 'fan-friendly' game where play should emphasize skill over strength, allowing for a faster, more open play ala 'Globetrotter basketball' (without the 'tricks'). Additionally, it is stressed that players will be available for autographs after the game, something that will help fan base.
So will this type of basketball continue to thrive in the future, or will it fizzle out like the defunct leagues of the past?
All I know is that when I heard that radio promotion of the new Hamilton team I immediately looked into it to see what the ABA was all about. It doesn't hurt to have a guy like Chris Childs, former Knick and Raptor, on as the President of the organization to peak one's interest.
I will definitely be checking out an ABA game soon to see why there is so much interest for local markets. However, the jury is still out on if this 'fan-friendly' style of play will hold a candle to the superstars of the NBA.
It can't hurt to have too much basketball can it? I say, any league that promotes the purity and love of the game is fine by me. And if it attracts local, smaller communities to the game than why shouldn't this league succeed?
For that, you can sign me up Chris Childs to be at your team's first game.