Will Farrell is a very funny man. His new movie "Semi-Pro" is an ode to the old ABA, poking fun of its big afros even on white guys short shorts and red, white and blue balls.
I'll probably see the film, if not at a local megaplex than at least as a Netflix rental or in edited form on TNT in the not-too-distant future.
I do have a bone to pick with Mr. Farrell, however, and it has nothing to do with wanting my money (and time) back for "Bewitched."
The name of his film is dead wrong. There was nothing "semi" pro about that defunct league. It was professional basketball all the way. No league could have the likes of Dr. J, Moses Malone, Dan Issel and George McGinnis and be anything but full-blown pro.
I remember the old ABA as a kid growing up in suburban Salt Lake City. The first professional sporting event I recall ever attending was a Utah Stars game in the old Salt Palace, circa 1972. I remember eating popcorn, drinking flat Sprite, watching guys run up and down the court with seemingly reckless abandon and enjoying every minute of it.
The ABA had problems, sure. That's why it only lasted nine years. But it was fun for awhile.
Here's what I liked about the ABA, from Artis to Zelmo:
A Artis Gilmore and afros. Gilmore, by the way, may have had the best 'fro in the league.
B Boone, Ron. The guard never missed a game once he joined the Stars in '71 until the franchise left town.
C Chaparrals. The name of Dallas' ABA franchise.
D Dunking. The preferred method of scoring in the NBA
E Erving, Julius (aka Dr. J). The all-time greatest player I ever watched (until Jordan).
F Freddie Lewis, star point guard on three Indiana Pacers championship teams.
G George "the Iceman" Gervin. Man, was the Spurs star cool.
H High scoring. ABA games were run-and-gun affairs.
I Indiana Pacers. One of the four teams that joined the NBA.
J Jimmy Jones. Utah stars guard, 1971-74.
K Kentucky Colonels. The team Utah beat to win the 1971 crown.
L LaDell Anderson. Coached the Stars from 1971-73 after he'd been at Utah State, but before he coached BYU.
M Moses Malone. Center who joined the Stars right out of high school
N Nuggets, Denver. One of the four teams that joined the NBA.
O Original. The ABA introduced a multi-colored ball and new rules, like the 3-point shot (which the NBA later incorporated).
P Pattison, Dan. Deseret New Utah Stars beat writer and all-around good guy. RIP, Dan.
Q Q's, San Diego. The team name was actually the Conquistadors, but everyone just called them the Q's.
R Red Robbins. His given name was Austin, but this Utah Star had, you guessed it, red hair.
S San Antonio Spurs. One of the four teams that joined the NBA.
T Tom Nissalke. The final coach for the Stars during the 1975-76 season.
U Utah Stars. The 1970-71 ABA champs!
W Willie Wise. He was one of the best Stars players ever.
X X-citing. Yes, it's a stretch, but you try thinking of a something ABA related starting with X.
Y Y. as in BYU. The alma mater of Stars players Dick Nemelka and Jeff CongdonZ Zelmo Beaty, "the Franchise" for the Stars.