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Loose Balls: Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association Hardcover – October 15, 1990

4.7 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pluto, sports journalist for the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal , coauthored such bestsellers as Forty-Eight Minutes , with Bob Ryan, and Tark , with Jerry Tarkanian. This time, however, he will disappoint his readers. The story of the ABA--which lasted from 1967 to 1976, spawned such stars as Julius Erving and Moses Malone, and originated the three-point shot as well as the annual slam-dunk contest--should be an absorbing one, but it falls victim to Pluto's odd approach. Having interviewed many of the owners, managers, players, officials and commentators involved in the league, he cuts up their comments into short snippets (some only two or three sentences long) and arranges them according to a roughly chronological scenario. The resulting discontinuous, herky-jerky text is difficult to follow. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The ABA was born in 1967 and in nine tumultuous seasons introduced such legendary stars as Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, George Gervin, and Moses Malone. Pluto, a basketball writer for the Akron Beacon Journal , spins an irreverent history in interview format of the league with the three-point shot, the slam dunk contest, the red, white, and blue ball. The ABA saga includes unsettled finances, ever-changing teams, and constant war with the more established National Basketball Association. As well as the stars, we meet the owners (Earl Foreman, John Y. Brown, and Charles O. Finley), the coaches (Hubie Brown, brother Larry Brown, Bob Bass, and Slick Leonard), the bad boys (Warren Jabali and John Brisker), the characters (Wendell Ladner and Marvin Barnes), and dozens of others. Well-told by participants, this is a history laced with humor from a league filled with fun. A must for any basketball fan and highly recommended for all libraries.
- Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671673904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671673901
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you remember the ABA, and loved the red, white and blue ball, the original 3-point line, and what it all brought to the game of basketball, then consider this required reading.
I cannot remember when I have laughed so hard while reading a documentary. The depictions of the players, and the unusual antics the owners tried to get people to come watch is simply too funny to describe here. Whether it was making a big deal out of $100,000 contracts (really just "very" long annuities) or getting the whole crowd to move to one side of the arena (the side shown on TV) the league went to new lengths to promote the product. Cow milking at halftime? Whatever the means, there is no doubt that the ABA changed the game forever. The first slam dunk contest, the 3-point line, and the creativity of the play itself were brand new.
While the league may have been a circus act compared to the classic NBA who had the Laker's, Celtic's, Wilt, Russell, West, Oscar and others, make no mistake that some of the best to ever play came not out of the NBA but the ABA. Connie Hawkins was MJ long before MJ himself followed in the footsteps of another ABA great; Dr. J. The ABA started the early college exodus with the legal decision "hardship" rule applied to the great Spencer Haywood. If you think Rasheed Wallace with his 28 technicals a season is a strange act to follow, he pales in comparison with some of the bruisers in the "other" league. One story about a player/coach, who had benched himself for fighting, ends with the coach putting himself in as a player and decking someone not 30 seconds into the game! Who can forget the famous Marvin Barnes?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hey, if you don't take MY word that this is an excellent read, refer to the 2002 Sportsman of the Year issue of Sports Illustrated. It has this in the top 100 sports books of all time.
As a kid who had one of those ABA basketballs in the 70's this brought back a LOT of memories...
It is the perfect book for someone on the go, or on a plane, or in other situations where a long drawn out read is not possible. It consists of short stories, woven together around various themes (the barnstorming nature of the ABA, tough guys in the league, etc.)
The most AMAZING thing about this book is a picture of Julius Erving, during his rookie year, shooting a free throw for the Virginia Squires. If you look in the background, you can count the number of fans in the stands on ONE HAND. Can you imagine? The chance to see Julius Erving (who gets his own special section of this book) in his ROOKIE YEAR?
Also, I never really knew the Connie Hawkins story until this book. Larry Brown, Dan Issel, Doug Moe, Zelmo Beaty, all your old ABA faves are here.
Plus, for stat geeks, a list of all the seasons, the standings, playoff results, etc are contained.
And pictures of the Miami Floridian 'ball girls' in tight-tights! :)
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Format: Paperback
Terry Pluto's book is a very funny look at the American Basketball Association. He interviewed several people who were involved with the league and told the story of the league through their stories.

The ABA had some great players and introduced the three-point shot and slam dunk contest, which later became popular in the NBA, but the league was not run well and didn't have enough money invested in it to be a real success. They did manage to hold on long enough to force a merger with the NBA.

This was a league where a game was postponed once when two different airlines lost the luggage of the two teams that were supposed to play, leaving neither team with uniforms for the game. One team gave away something like 500 free tickets to a playoff game and had a crowd of about 520.

The league had its share of characters, and this is a great place to read all about them. It's also the place where Dr. J, George Gervin and some other great players got their start, and you can read about that here too.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a sports gem. The wild ride of the American Basketball Association from inception to its eventual collapse and NBA absorption of the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets.
The book is divide into 3 parts.Opening Gambits, Middle Game and Endgame.
The first part deals with the origins of the league from the hiring of its first Commisioner, George Mikan and the idea behind the red, white and blue basketball and the struggles of early ABA teams to stock their rosters to a great section on The Indiana Pacers, one of the leagues best organizations. Everything is told in a series of stories told by the people involved. It is a credit to author Terry Pluto's reporting skills and ability to edit that makes this so enjoyable.
Part 2 deals includes a lengthy section about the greatest player to come out of the ABA, Julius Erving. The Doctor must have been a wonder to behold in his early years as he is spoke of in awe by teammates, opponents, and coaches. Also the many stories of the often bizarre characters that inhabited the ABA are priceless in and of themselves.Of which the reader will often find themself laughing out loud. The section on The San Antonio Spurs is enjoyable in that you learn the humble origins of the current NBA dynasty.
Part 3 covers such franchises as the Kentucky Colonels who were considered underachievers until they finally won an ABA championship in 1975. Probably the most entertaining section of the book chronicles the story of the Spirits Of St. Louis. The tales told of this franchise often boggle the mind if one has any isea how professional athletes are expected to act.
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