NBA TV Celebrates "The Last Night of the ABA"
Posted Jun 7 2006 2:05PM
Special looks back at last ABA Finals on June 14
NEW YORK, June 7 – NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour television network, will look back at the final performance of the American Basketball Association when The Last Night of the ABA premieres on Wednesday, June 14, at 8 p.m. ET. Featuring interviews with Hall of Famers like Julius Erving, George Gervin, and Dan Issel, who were some of the league’s greatest stars – revolutionary figures who helped transform the game – this half-hour special looks back 30 years to the 1976 ABA Finals. In that series, the New York Nets and the Denver Nuggets battled for the final ABA championship before the curtain fell on the beloved league forever.
As the clock began to wind down on the ABA, a league that introduced wide-open offenses, the three-point shot, the Slam Dunk competition, colorful uniforms and even more colorful personalities, the Nets and the Nuggets put on a show for basketball fans as they battled for the final bragging rights of the league.
The Last Night of the ABA focuses on the sixth and final game of the series, which resulted in the Nets capturing the championship following a dramatic 22-point come-from-behind-victory. It also spotlights the major participants in the league including Dr. J, possibly the most spectacular player in ABA and NBA history, and Larry Brown and Doug Moe, longtime friends and original ABA players who served as the Nuggets’ head and assistant coach, respectively, before they went on to greatness in the NBA coaching ranks.
Besides featuring interviews with other key ABA figures like Kevin Loughery and Steve “Snapper” Jones, the special also takes a look at one of the league’s most unique characters, the late Wendell Ladner of the New York Nets. Nicknamed “Mr. Excitement,” the two-time ABA All-Star’s blue-collar style on the court contrasted with his Hollywood image off the court. Described by many around the league as the Burt Reynolds, Elvis Presley, and Clark Gable of basketball, Ladner was not afraid to dive into the stands to go after loose balls, endearing himself to fans and teammates like his close friend, Dr. J.
“There probably has never been another player like him and I have been around a lot of players, literally thousands of them,” said Erving. “I haven’t seen anybody like him. They still talk about him. He is a part of folklore.”
ESPN2 will re-air The Last Night of the ABA on Friday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET.