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YouTube Gold: Game Six, 1976 ABA Finals

Dr. J vs. the Skywalker

New Jersey Nets
PISCATAWAY, NJ - CIRCA 1970’s: Julius Eving #32 of the New Jersey Nets shoots during a mid circa 1970’s NBA basketball game at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. Erving played for the Nets from 1973-76.
Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty Images

The ABA was, in its day, vastly more entertaining than the NBA.

The older league prided itself on playing basketball “the right way,” which owed a lot more to Henry Iba than what most modern fans would appreciate.

The ABA was always climbing uphill against the NBA though and by 1976 it was just about exhausted.

After the playoffs concluded, the ABA and NBA intensified merger talks and decided that the New York Nets, the Denver Nuggets, the San Antonio Spurs and the Indiana Pacers were absorbed into the senior league.

The final game in the history of the ABA was Game 6 of the 1976 playoffs between the Nets and the Nuggets.

There were some very familiar names in this game - David Thompson and Monte Towe from NC State, Bobby Jones from UNC, former Tar Heels Larry Brown and Doug Moe coaching the Nuggets, Gus Gerard from Virginia and also future BC coach Al Skinner. In addition to Skinner, the Nets had Julius Erving and Bill Melchionni, whose brother Gary played for Duke between 1970 and 1973. More recently, his son Lee also played for the Blue Devils.

The Nets won this behind Erving, who would soon force a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers.

There’s a great moment at the end: as the scoreboard urges defense, 5-7 (maybe) Towe rushes over to defend Erving after Thompson misses a jumper with time running out on the game and league. He does his best to harass Erving, who, a foot taller, and just holds the ball behind his bed while Towe does his best to harass him.