THE BUSINESS AND POLITICS OF SPORTS
Mikhail Prokhorov's New Jersey soon to be Brooklyn Nets National Basketball Association franchise is taking part in the league's celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first year of play of the NBA's rival, the American Basketball Association. The old ABA lasted just nine years between 1967 and 1976 and the league caused NBA owners nothing but headaches and in some cases great financial losses if owners statements were to be believed.
The two leagues were business rivals and there were some bitter feelings that were somewhat assuage in 1976 when the NBA collected $12.8 million from four ABA franchise holders who joined the old league as what can best be described as "junior" partners for a while.
Prokhorov's Nets players are wearing, according to the team's news release, "retro New York Nets royal blue uniforms with stars down the side during five home games as part of Hardwood Classics Nights.
"The Nets played on Long Island from 1968 through 1977 in three different venues, including Commack Arena, 1968-69 season; the Island Garden, 1969-1970 through 1971-72 seasons; and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1971-72 through 1976-77 seasons, before moving to New Jersey. The Nets won ABA championships in 1974 and 1976 before joining the NBA for the 1976-77 campaign."
Oddly enough there is no mention of the Nets starting life as the New Jersey Americans in 1967.
The NBA has decided to embrace the ABA's history to make a few bucks by having teams like the Nets, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Denver Nuggets, the Indiana Pacers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Miami Heat, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the San Antonio Spurs wear replica shirts from old mostly defunct ABA teams. Charlotte will become the Carolina Cougars (a team which started out in Houston with a brief stop in Carolina and finished as the Spirits of St. Louis---a franchise owned by a pair of New Jersey brothers, the Silnas, who are still getting a share of television revenue from the NBA in "perpetuity" as part of the 1976 dissolving of the ABA). The Los Angeles Clippers have donned the identity of the Los Angeles Stars (a franchise which started in Anaheim, moved to LA and finished in Salt Lake City), The Memphis Grizzlies assumed the likeness of the poorly financed Memphis Tams (a franchise that started in New Orleans and was a dismal financial flop as both the Pros and Tams in Memphis).