We look at key on-the-court battles between the warring NBA and ABA in the latest episode in Over and Back’s Basketball Mysteries of the 1970s with Reinis Lacis (@LamarMatic), host of The Handle podcast.
Known for many legal battles off the court, the ABA and NBA battled often on the court, with two interleague all-star games and dozens of exhibition games throughout the 1970s. We discuss the NBA’s domination of the early games, how the ABA later caught up, how the games were promoted and publicized, different viewpoints on how intense the games really were, the first “Super Bowl of Basketball" between the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and the ABA champion Utah Stars, the Indiana Pacers’ puzzling poor record in exhibition games, an incredible free-throw dunk by Julius Erving that almost no one has seen, Erving playing for the Hawks vs. ABA teams, a game with a combined 119 free throw attempts, a 1975 champion vs. champion matchup between the Colonels and Warriors, a duel between Rick Barry (49 points) and Erving (43), and George McGinnis returning to Indiana for the first time as a Pacer.
We also looked at the matchups of potential “World Series of Basketball” between the ABA vs. NBA champions of each year between 1968-1976: how the Celtics’ defense would have handled Connie Hawkins, if Barry could have sent the Oaks past Boston, how the Pacers and the Knicks would have matched up, if the Stars could slow down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, if the Pacers could have matched up with the Lakers, if Barry could have led the Warriors past the Colonels’ formidable front line of Dan Issel and Artis Gilmore, and if the Celtics would have had a chance to contain the Nets’ Erving.
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