The ABA Trying to Fill Void Left By NBA Lockout

The current incarnation of the ABA looks nothing like its flashier, more dazzling predecessor, but it’s doing what it can to try and momentarily replace the NBA during this lockout. From the NY Times: “With the National Basketball Association lockout, fans of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings have no reason to cheer. But the Bay Area still has professional basketball, with teams now playing in San Francisco, Richmond, Livermore and Pleasant Hill. They are part of the reincarnated American Basketball Association. Four decades ago, the A.B.A. and its high-flying, flashy stars — including Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Artis Gilmore — pulled fans away from the slower, lower-scoring N.B.A. games with multicolored basketballs and innovations like the three-point shot. In its newest iteration, the A.B.A. has a different appeal: Tickets are inexpensive, and players are local celebrities who get paid blue-collar wages. It is a recession-era answer to the N.B.A. George and Rochester Devers, brothers who are 71 and 70 respectively and well over six feet tall, arrived early at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium to grab courtside seats. They cost $10, the same as all of the other seats in the arena. The elder Devers said he preferred the A.B.A. to the N.B.A., especially at a time when people have taken to the streets to protest economic inequality. ‘You got people camping out in the street and then you got these players and owners arguing over billions of dollars, you got Kobe Bryant buying his wife some million-dollar ring,’ George Devers said. ‘It’s just hard to get on those people’s side.’ … These are the fans that Eric Marquis said he had in mind when he paid $10,000 earlier this year to buy the Richmond territory and buy into the league. There are about 80 A.B.A. teams across the country. Before Friday’s matchup with the rival San Francisco Rumble, Marquis, a small man with a goatee, nervously surveyed the 2,200-seat arena. The first game had attracted about 800 fans and the Rockets were now 2-0, but he did not know what to expect. After the pregame hip-hop music, spun on turntables by a teenager on the sideline, the announcer introduced the Rockets’ starting five, leading off with the point guard whose name seemed to have been written for the script that the Rockets are selling. ‘He steals from the opponent and gives to the Rockets. … give it up for Robinnnnnn Hoooood Jr.!'”