Julius Erving is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NBA history.
But Erving’s career began in the American Basketball Association, where he was the league’s best player in the early 1970s. Erving treasured his time in the fledgling league and is working to help promote its history and maintain its legacy.
The most decorated player in the history of the league, Erving and other ABA greats have partnered with Lana Sports to help recreate the iconic ball that was the hallmark of the transformational league.
“The red, white and blue ABA ball was my favorite basketball, and I’m thrilled to be part of bringing it back for another generation,” Erving said.
Erving has been joined by fellow Hall of Famers and ABA/NBA greats Rick Barry, George “The Iceman” Gervin, Spencer Haywood, George McGinnis, Charlie Scott, Bobby Jones, Louie Dampier, Larry Brown and other former ABA players in supporting Lana Sports and its effort to honor the ABA and its players. The ball, which retails for $99, is the only known player-supported product involving former ABA players. A portion of the proceeds go to the Dropping Dimes Foundation, a charity that provides financial and medical assistance to former ABA players in need.
“I treasured my time in the ABA and wish the league received more recognition for its historic contributions to pro basketball and today’s NBA,” said Erving, who was named the ABA’s best-ever player at the league’s 30th anniversary celebration in 1997. “I love the passion Lana Sports brings when it comes to protecting the ABA’s legacy, and how this new ball will benefit my former ABA brothers through the Dropping Dimes Foundation.”
The ABA, which began in 1967 and was absorbed into the NBA in 1976, helped change the way basketball is played with an up-tempo, free-wheeling style that emphasized 3-point shooting and the slam dunk. No one epitomized the high-flying game more than the creative player affectionately known as Dr. J, who won the league’s final three MVPs and averaged 28.7 points per game in his five ABA seasons.
Just as the red, white and blue ball became the most recognized symbol of the ABA, Erving embodied the league’s athletic style of play. He eventually took his acrobatic game to the NBA, where he played for 11 seasons and scored the third-most points of all-time.
Erving collectibles have kept his ABA legacy alive over the years, with his 1972 Topps #195 rookie card, which shows Erving in his Virginia Squires uniform, selling for more than $57,000. He is also featured on one of the hottest selling NBA cards along with 1980 rookies Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
“The colorful ABA ball will forever stand for change, independence and individuality,” said Scott Tarter, an Indianapolis business attorney who founded Lana Sports. “And we couldn’t be more honored to have the tremendous support of so many great former ABA players, led by Julius, one of the signature ambassadors in the history of American sports.”
Lana Sports works to ensure that former ABA players benefit from the value they helped create in the historic league.
“The average player salary during 1970 was only around $35,000,” Tarter said. “Because of the competition between the ABA and NBA, player salaries and franchise values exploded during the 1970s but most ABA players finished their careers before benefitting from that. And they didn’t receive NBA pension or medical benefits, and many are now in need.”
The Dropping Dimes Foundation was created to address that disparity, celebrate the league and “to bring dignity to these former players who so richly deserve it,” Tarter said.
“They not only helped change the game on the court, they represented something bigger,” he said. “They were part of a rebel league that challenged authority and flourished during an era marked by civil rights, gender equality and other social change. They’re part of a genuine brotherhood that, while older and fewer in number, is as strong today as it ever was.”
The ABA ball is made of high-quality composite leather, comes in a special collector edition ABA basketball bag and is a reproduction of the original ABA league ball. It can be purchased at www.lanasports.com.