Loose Balls: The Short Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto (Review)

Sports nostalgia tour of the American Basketball Association whose heydays were in the late 60s and 70s. The league had some great players like Dr. J, Rick Barry, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and others. Interesting stories about how they tried to create the league. Poor Pat Boone was one of the early investors and almost went broke. There were some smart owners and many greedy ones. George Mikan was the ABA’s first commissioner and insisted that the league’s headquarters be situated in Minnesota where he lived.

So many characters Marvin Barnes, Johnny Neumann, John Brisker etc. played in the league. The book details many of their antics. I remember Rick Mount, one of the best shooting guards in college at Purdue. Unfortunately his college game did not translate that well into the pros.

The financial status of the teams and the league were always in peril. They did not have a national TV contract like the NBA. Many coaches and players suffered returned checks or did not get paid at all.

I did not realize or remember that ABA teams played NBA teams in exhibition games and competed fairly well. There were some excellent ABA coaches including Hubie Brown, Larry Brown, Stan Albeck and Doug Moe. (Even Wilt Chamberlain was an ABA coach but not a very good or devoted one.)

There are a large number of amusing anecedotes and stories. This is a very entertaining sports book about a very interesting time in professional basketball.