For those of us who recall the old ABA—the American Basketball Association—we remember the flashy style of play, the three-point line, the advent of the slam dunk contest at its All-Star Game in 1976 and Julius Erving winning it.
We remember players such as Spencer Haywood and Artist Gilmore and George Gervin and David Thompson. We remember the Indiana Pacers, the Kentucky Colonels, the Virginia Squires and the Anaheim Amigos.
But most of all, we remember the ball. The red, white and blue ball.
Well guess what. The original ball is making a comeback.
In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the ABA/NBA merger, Lana Sports is offering the “RSS Official” ABA basketball for the first time so a new generation of youth can play with the iconic ball.
It can be purchased for $99 (plus shipping) at lanasports.com. A portion of the proceeds go to help former ABA players in need of medical or financial assistance
Made with quality synthetic leather, the colorful ball is made for indoor or outdoor play, or for autographs and display. Maybe get two, one for playing and one for displaying, because how can you resist not finding a hoop and shooting that ball and watching the colors spin into a blur?
“I love the rotation on this beautiful ball and so will today’s players,” former ABA player George McGinnis told SCD via Scott Tarter of Lana Sports. “It will take you back and make you feel like an ABA All-Star.”
Added another former ABA player Louie Dampier, “It was always special for me to see the spin of the red, white and blue ball as it came through the net on a three-pointer in the ABA. It’s really great seeing Lana Sports bring the original ball back in honor of the league and to help former players.”
The Dropping Dimes Foundation was established for that reason. It raises funds with donations and by selling merchandise such as the limited-edition set of ABA player cards, featured in these pages in 2020. There are 160 hand-drawn and colored sketches of the players from the original teams, including one for Les Powell, who signed to play but never did; he was killed serving in Vietnam.
The ball is the latest fundraising effort and it’s endorsed by original ABA Hall of Famers, including Rick Barry (HOF ’87), Larry Brown (HOF ’02), Louie Dampier (HOF ’15), Bobby Jones (HOF ’19), Bobby “Slick” Leonard (HOF ’14) and George McGinnis (HOF ’17). Plus, ABA stars like Jimmy Jones (six-time ABA All-Star), Mack Calvin (five-time ABA All-Star), Bob Netolicky (four-time ABA All-Star), Larry Jones (four-time ABA All-Star), Cincy Powell (two-time ABA All-Star), Chuck Williams (two-time ABA All-Star), Brian Taylor (two-time ABA All-Star), Charlie Williams (two-time ABA All-Star), Jim Eakins (ABA All-Star) and Darnell Hillman (“Dr. Dunk,” the inaugural 1977 NBA Slam Dunk champion).
“The American Basketball Association was responsible for changing professional basketball forever and helped make the game more exciting for the fans,” Barry said. “The league’s trademark red, white and blue ball was symbolic of that change. Thanks to Lana Sports, the ABA ball is back, and a new generation of fans can now enjoy the unique basketball that captured the eyes and imagination of millions of fans. I am proud to have been a pioneer of the league and excited to join other former ABA players in being a part of bringing the history of the league and its innovative ball back to life.”