ListMoto - American Basketball League (1961–63)

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The AMERICAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE played one full season, 1961 –1962 , and part of 1962–1963. The league actually folded on December 31, 1962. The ABL was the first basketball league to have a three point shot for baskets scored far away from the goal. Other rules that set the league apart were a 30-second shooting clock and a wider free throw lane —18 feet instead of the standard 12.


* 1 Formation * 2 George Steinbrenner * 3 Jerry Lucas * 4 Relocation * 5 Top players * 6 Rebirth * 7 Complete team list * 8 Year Winner Result Runner-up * 9 References * 10 External links


The league was formed when basketball mogul Abe Saperstein did not get the Los Angeles National Basketball
Association (NBA) franchise he felt he had been promised in return for his years of supporting the NBA with doubleheader games featuring his Harlem Globetrotters
Harlem Globetrotters
. When Minneapolis Lakers
Minneapolis Lakers
owner Bob Short was permitted to move the Lakers to Los Angeles, Saperstein reacted by convincing National Alliance of Basketball
Leagues (NABL) team owner Paul Cohen (Tuck Tapers) and Amateur Athletic Union
Amateur Athletic Union
(AAU) National Champion Cleveland Pipers owner George Steinbrenner to take the top NABL and AAU teams and players and form a rival league. Saperstein was secretly planning the new league since 1959 but it is unclear whether he would have abandoned these plans were he granted the NBA franchise. In reality, Saperstein and Cohen each secretly made arrangements with local promoters in the other cities to finance those teams so there would be an eight-team league. Saperstein placed the Los Angeles Jets to take on the transplanted Lakers. He got Bill Sharman as coach and signed former NBA players Larry Friend and George Yardley to give the team instant credibility. The idea backfired; the Jets did not last the season.


In Cleveland, Steinbrenner's coach was the legendary John McLendon , who became the first African-American
coach of a major pro basketball team. He was hired by Pipers' general manager, Mike Cleary, later the Executive Director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. McLendon had several of his star players from Tennessee State such as John Barnhill and Ben Warley , plus several former Akron Wingfoots , such as Johnny Cox and Jimmy Darrow , who had won the AAU National Championship the year before. In a game against the Hawaii Chiefs, Steinbrenner sold player Grady McCollum to the Chiefs at halftime. McLendon chafed at Steinbrenner's interference and quit in midseason, following the team's return from playing in Hawaii. Steinbrenner immediately named Sharman, from the recently defunct Jets, as his coach, and the Pipers went on to win the only ABL title in the league's brief history.


Steinbrenner signed All-American Jerry Lucas to a contract worth $40,000. With the Lucas signing, Steinbrenner had a secret deal with NBA commissioner Maurice Podoloff . The Pipers would merge with the Kansas City Steers and join the NBA. A schedule was printed for the 1963–64 NBA season with the Pipers playing the New York Knicks in the first game. The gambit worked, but the ABL sued to block the move, and as a result Steinbrenner had a team and no league. Instead of returning to the ABL, Steinbrenner folded his tent. This chicanery masked a series of other ABL moves.


The Hawaii Chiefs drew well, but other teams felt the air travel was prohibitive, resulting in scheduling that saw the Eastern teams playing all of their games in Hawaii within a 5-6 day period and vice versa. After that first season, the Chiefs relocated to Long Beach, California . The San Francisco Saints escaped head-to-head competition with the newly relocated San Francisco Warriors by heading to Oakland. Paul Cohen, who secretly owned the Pittsburgh team as well as officially owning the Tapers, moved the Tapers again from New York, where they had been an NABL powerhouse for years, to Philadelphia
, where he hoped to fill the void of the move of the Warriors (with Wilt Chamberlain ) from Philadelphia
to San Francisco.

The radical changes, combined with uneven attendance (although some teams, such as the Kansas City Steers , drew well), and no fresh capital from new owners, caused Saperstein and Cohen to decide to throw in the towel with the close of 1962 on December 31. The league that pioneered the three-point shot and the wider foul line (both eventually adopted by the rest of the basketball world) was gone. After the ABL folded, Steinbrenner had $125,000 in debts and personal losses of $2 million.


ABL players included the following:

* Jack Adams * Dick Barnett * Sylvester "Sy" Blye * Bucky Bolyard * Bill Bridges * Frank Burgess * Jeff Cohen * Kelly Coleman * Gene Conley * Johnny Cox * Connie Dierking * Bevo Francis * Connie Hawkins * Tony Jackson * Roger Kaiser * Maurice King * Herb Lee

* Walt Mangham * Nick Mantis * Phil Rollins * Fred Sawyer * Ken Sears
Ken Sears
* Larry Siegfried * Bill Spivey
Bill Spivey
* Bruce Spraggins * Larry Staverman * John F. Sullivan * Dan Swartz * Roger Taylor * Gene Tormohlen * Herschell Turner * Ben Warley * Win Wilfong * George Yardley * Wayne Yates


The Philadelphia
Tapers , Kansas City Steers , Hawaii Chiefs , Cleveland Pipers , and the Los Angeles Jets eventually returned to their NABL roots, where they continue as AAU Elite teams.


* Chicago Majors (1961/62-62/63) * Cleveland Pipers (1961/62) * Kansas City Steers (1961/62-62/63) * Long Beach Chiefs (1961/62-62/63, as Hawaii Chiefs in 1961/62) * Los Angeles Jets (1961/62, disbanded during season)

* Oakland Oaks (1961/62-62/63, as San Francisco Saints in 1961/62) * Philadelphia
Tapers (1961/62-62/63, as Washington Tapers in 1961/62; moved to New York during 1961/62 season; as New York Tapers in 1961/62) * Pittsburgh Rens (1961/62-62/63)


* 1961–62 Cleveland Pipers 3 games – 2 games Kansas City Steers * 1962–63 Kansas City Steers declared champions


* ^ Nelson 2013 , p. 17. * ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.39, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0 * ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.42, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0 * ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.42, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0 * ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.43, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0