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ABA Legends Come Together to Celebrate

Courtesy of the INDYSTAR:

The colorful legacy of the American Basketball Association will be celebrated at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 7, 2018, when the ABA’s 50th reunion is held. All proceeds will go to the Dropping Dimes Foundation, an Indianapolis-based charity that assists former ABA players, coaches, and team employees in need of financial or health care assistance.

The event will bring a retro ABA All-Star weekend feel to downtown Indianapolis. Many of the league’s greatest players and coaches are scheduled to attend, including former Pacers legend George McGinnis and legendary Pacers coach Slick Leonard, Julius Erving, Spencer Haywood, Dan Issel, George Gervin, and Artis Gilmore. NBC announcer Bob Costas will serve as master of ceremonies. During the program, the list of the ABA’s all-time 50 greatest players will be announced, as voted on by a media panel.

Leonard, who coached the Pacers to three ABA championships, looks forward to honoring a unique league with unforgettable players and personalities who left a mark on pro basketball history.

“(The ABA) was just a hell of a lot of fun, a hell of a lot of fun,” said Leonard in a news release. “And I’m telling you this reunion will be more of the same. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

The ABA, which began in 1967 with the Pacers and 10 other teams, lasted nine seasons. It ended in 1976, when the league disbanded and four franchises were absorbed into the NBA – the Pacers, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets, who have since relocated to Brooklyn.

The ABA was beset with financial problems from start to finish, competing with the more-established and stable NBA. But the talent and excitement of ABA basketball was undeniable. With its signature red-white-and-blue basketball, the ABA was innovative and flashy, featuring the 3-point shot and an All-Star slam dunk contest before the NBA implemented them. The league featured Hall of Fame players like Erving, Issel, David Thompson, Moses Malone, Rick Barry, and three former Pacers players who made the Hall of Fame – McGinnis, Roger Brown and Mel Daniels.

Brown and Daniels are both deceased, but they would be thrilled the ABA 50th reunion is being held in Indianapolis, says Dropping Dimes Foundation co-founder and CEO Scott Tarter.

“The Dropping Dimes foundation was always something Mel wanted to get going,” Tarter said. “He was a great friend, and so adamant about this reunion. This event is not just about the stars. It’s going to be about all the players. We’re going to try to bring back as many as possible, and we’re expecting anywhere from 100 to 200 former ABA players to attend. It’s about showing these guys some love and respect for what they did for the game.”

When the ABA dissolved, if left the players with a meager pension — $60 a month for every year of service with a minimum of three years. That has created a financial hardship for some former ABA players, coaches, and employees.

“They are the only group of professional basketball players who have slipped through the cracks,” said Scott Tarter, co-founder and CEO of the Dropping Dimes Foundation.

A VIP reception will be held Friday, April 6, and an online auction is being organized where ABA memorabilia will be available. An autograph session, open to the public, is being planned for April 7th before the official reunion. Tables and individual tickets will go on sale in November and will available for purchase.

Reggie Miller Partners with Castelli to Create Custom Dropping Dimes Kit

During the month of June, two passions of Reggie Miller will collide.

Miller’s love for biking and cycling will be combined with his support of the Dropping Dimes Foundation, which benefits retired ABA players, to culminate in a custom biking uniform — or kit, as they are known.

“I wanted to merge two worlds that were very important to me,” Miller explained. “Being able to raise money for Dropping Dimes through the sale of custom biking kits was the perfect plan.”

The kit is being manufactured by Castelli, and all profits from the Miller-inspired uniform will go to the Dropping Dimes Foundation, an organization Miller has been closely involved with for years.

Get Your Custom Kit: Create a Free Login to Order Now

“After Uncle Mel (Daniels) passed, I wanted to keep his vision alive,” Miller said. “So I had the honor of joining the Board and continue my work with Dropping Dimes as a tribute to Uncle Mel and all the great players that came before us.”

For Dr. John Abrams, one of the co-founders of the foundation and current Chairman of the Board, Miller’s active participation is a gift.

“He came up with the idea of putting together a biking kit that has the Boom Baby on it, and he asked if he could put our Dropping Dimes logo on the shirt,” Dr. Abrams explained. “Then he came up with the idea to sell them and donate the profits for the entire month of June.”

Katie Araujo, Castelli’s Custom Team Manager for the Southwest Region, explained how the project came to fruition.

“Our whole process and what we wanted to do with Reggie was to have it be collaborative,” Araujo said. “And our goal was to be for the end product to be a direct reflection of him as a person and athlete. So our process began with him telling us what he likes, having him tell us the kinds of designs that were appealing to him.”

Dropping Dimes Foundation: Donate Today!

The result of the collaboration between Miller and Castelli was a kit featuring Bobby “Slick” Leonard’s signature saying “Boom Baby,” as well as a Pacers color scheme, the Dopping Dimes Foundation logo, and Miller’s number 31, which he wore throughout his Hall-of-Fame career with the Pacers.

Miller, who still visits Indiana from time to time, is eager to hit the trails in his custom kit.

“You will find me riding in Brown County,” Miller said. “And hopefully I will see Pacers fans wearing the Dropping Dimes Foundation kits on the trails.”




ABA Legends Gather for Dropping Dimes Fundraiser

Over two hundred fans gathered to meet and talk with American Basketball Association legends and Indiana Pacers alumni Darnell Hillman, Bob Netolicky, George McGinnis, Billy Keller, and Coach Bobby “Slick” Leonard.

The Dropping Dimes Foundation joined J&J Allstar Sportscards Shows so fans could get their favorite memorable signed, hear stories about the American Basketball Association, and take pictures with the stars. All proceeds from the autographed memorabilia will go towards Dropping Dimes Foundation’s mission to help former American Basketball Association players and their families.

You can make the ultimate assist by donating today HERE.




Myles Turner Joins DDF Advisory Board

The Dropping Dimes Foundation has made its first foray into todays NBA, with a new high-flying member intent on making assists for those who paved his path.

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, a second-team NBA All-Rookie selection last season, has become the latest Advisory Board member for the Foundation, which helps former players of the American Basketball Association who have fallen on hard times.

“I feel it’s an important cause and something that more of today’s players and fans should be aware of,” said Turner, 20, the 11th pick in the 2015 NBA draft. “These ABA players changed the way the game is played, including right here in Indiana, but most have been largely forgotten, and salaries and benefits were so different then. Some of these guys are hurting, and I’m proud to join several Pacers legends in working with the DDF.”

Former Pacers players and personnel also involved in the Foundation are George McGinnis, Bob Netolicky, Bob and Nancy Leonard, David Craig and Reggie Miller. Miller holds the title of Mel Daniels Memorial Advisory Board Member, named for his fellow Pacer and Naismith Hall of Famer who passed away in 2015.

Dropping Dimes President Scott Tarter emphasized that adding a current NBA player, especially one of Turner’s age and rising stature, is an important step for the Foundation.

“We’re so grateful for Myles’ outstanding show of support,” Tarter said. “It’s critical that our message of respect and gratitude for the unsung pioneers of pro basketball extend to today’s players and fans, and Myles helps us build that bridge.

“He has such a great respect for basketball history, and he understands the tremendous contributions made by the ABA players. His passion is infectious and we hope more of today’s players follow his lead.”

Other members of the Indianapolis-based Foundation’s Advisory Board are Naismith Hall of Famers Dan Issel, George Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Louie Dampier, Artis Gilmore, Bob Costas and Peter Vecsey, along with Mack Calvin and Brian Taylor.

Turner overcame a fractured thumb that kept him sidelined for much of the early season to finish his rookie campaign with averages of 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. His breakthrough game came in January on national television when he came off the bench to score 31 points against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

A native of Dallas, Turner also runs a charitable initiative called W.A.R.M. (We All Really Matter), which distributes food, personal items and blankets to those in need in Indianapolis during the winter months.

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Donate to the Dropping Dimes Foundation Today



The A-Train, Artis Gilmore, Joins DDF Advisory Board

GilmoreHookSojournerNiceArtis Gilmore, the 7-foot-2 “A-train” who imposed his will on the American Basketball Association during the first stage of his Hall of Fame career, has joined the rapidly growing Dropping Dimes Foundation with a similarly forceful mission: to help his ailing brothers.

“There are a lot of guys out there who really need an assist, players who helped change the game who are now hurting,” Gilmore said from his home in Florida. “This Foundation is making a difference, and I wanted to lend my support.”

Gilmore’s addition brings to 16 the number of Advisory Board members of the 2-year-old Foundation, including nine other Hall of Famers: Bob Costas, Louie Dampier, Mel Daniels (in memoriam), George Gervin, Spencer Haywood, Dan Issel, Bobby Leonard, Reggie Miller and Peter Vecsey. Other ABA legends on the board are Mack Calvin, Bob Netolicky, David Craig, Nancy Leonard, George McGinnis and Brian Taylor.

“We’re incredibly honored to welcome Artis to our advisory board. The extent to which these great Hall of Famers and basketball legends are stepping up to help former players in need is truly humbling, and it says a lot about the brotherhood of the ABA”, said DDF President Scott Tarter, who is joined on the Operating Board by Dr. John Abrams and film producer Ted Green. “Artis told me he’d seen some of the things we’ve been doing for former ABA players in need and that he really wanted to join in and do what he could to support us in those efforts,” said Tarter.

GilmoreStuffJonesCower2After leading little-regarded Jacksonville University to the 1970 NCAA title game, Gilmore played his first five seasons in the ABA, all with the Kentucky Colonels. His impact was immediate and dramatic: He led the league in total rebounds every year and in blocked shots three times, won the league’s MVP his rookie season, won the All-Star game MVP in 1974 and led the Colonels to the championship in 1975.

He went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA, mostly with Chicago and San Antonio, and retired as that league’s career leader in shooting percentage at .599. He averaged 22.3 points per game in the ABA, 17.1 in the NBA. He was the first player enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame by the ABA committee, in 2011.



Around the Web:
Artis Gilmore Official Website
Remember the ABA – Artis Gilmore
Artis Gilmore Career Retrospective
From college to the ABA and NBA, Artis Gilmore was a monster star
Artis Gilmore Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech



Dropping Dimes Helps Connect Willie Long with Settlement

Via IndyStar, Dana Benbow

Less than a month ago, Long woke up with a knee hurting so badly he couldn’t make it to his job as a substitute teacher. And even if he had been able to, it was unlikely his 21-year-old Honda would start.

Long has no money to replace that car — or his knee.

Like many other ABA players who were not part of the league’s merger with the NBA or who didn’t play long enough in the NBA, Long never received the pension benefits he had earned. Many of those players have scraped by for decades. Many have health issues — big men who were tough on their bodies, bodies that now are breaking down.

“There are some ABA players living under bridges in New Orleans,” said the late Pacers player Mel Daniels in a 2015 IndyStar article. “They don’t have anything.”

Long played just three years in the ABA, for the Floridians and the Denver Rockets. In 213 games, he averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Like many other ABA players who were not part of the league’s merger with the NBA or who didn’t play long enough in the NBA, Long never received the pension benefits he had earned. Many of those players have scraped by for decades. Many have health issues — big men who were tough on their bodies, bodies that now are breaking down.


via IndyStar

“There are some ABA players living under bridges in New Orleans,” said the late Pacers player Mel Daniels in a 2015 IndyStar article. “They don’t have anything.”

Long played just three years in the ABA, for the Floridians and the Denver Rockets. In 213 games, he averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Over the years, he had jobs as a regional manager for Taco Bell, Avon and Jiffy Lube. But after he retired several years ago, his Social Security wasn’t covering everyday life.

Long took up substitute teaching and refereeing high school volleyball to supplement Social Security. But soon, without a working car, and with a bad knee, he couldn’t make it to those jobs.

Things were looking pretty bad.

Then, a letter came from Indianapolis-based Dropping Dimes Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to help struggling former ABA players and their families. Long was one of 350 playersthe organization sent letters to asking if they needed help.

Long didn’t really want to ask anyone for help. But things were tough enough that he decided to put aside his pride and respond.

His application for assistance, a hand-written letter about his struggles, landed on the desk of Scott Tarter, co-founder of Dropping Dimes, about two weeks ago.

The timing stunned Tarter. Just days before, he had received another request – from the people with the NBA committee that doles out owed pension money to former players.

A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of former ABA players against the NBA for pension money owed was settled in 2014. It affected more than 200 players. Long was one of them, and the NBA committee wanted to find him.

Tarter had Long’s address and gladly passed it along.

“It was one of those moments,” said Tarter.

When Tarter picked up the phone and called Long to respond to his request to Dropping Dimes, Long had already been contacted by the pension committee.

“He was in tears,” Tarter said. “He had a difficult time talking to me. He said this was going to change his life.”

Neither Tarter, nor Long, want to reveal the amount of money Long is receiving.

“Let’s just say this is a life-changing scenario for him,” Tarter said.

But it’s no gift. This is money Long earned.

Shortly after Long was alerted to the money owed him, a former Kentucky Colonels player, 63-year-old Bird Averitt, learned from a Dropping Dimes advisory board member that he is owed back pension as well.

Find Out how you can help make the ultimate assist today HERE.

-Read more about Willie Long-



Special Thanks to the Ketner Family

The assistance the Dropping Dimes Foundation is able to provide to former American Basketball Association players and personnel is made possible by the generous donations of our supporters.  We would like to take a moment to acknowledge a recent special show of support from Ms. Aquarius Ketner, wife of former NBA Pacer Lari Ketner. 

Lari’s hard-fought battle with cancer ended with his passing at the age of 37 in October of 2014. The 6’10” UMass graduate was drafted in 1999 by the Chicago Bulls. After the Bulls, Ketner went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and then the Indiana Pacers.

After learning about the Dropping Dimes Foundation, Aquarius was gracious enough to provide us with a donation of Lari’s shoes and suits, all in fantastic condition and ready to serve some former players in need very well. Clothing for former professional basketball players is hard to come by, and her donation helps to fill a void when it comes to much needed extra-large sized clothing and shoes. 

This contribution from Aquarius will be used to assist former players in need and will represent a lasting legacy of kindness from she and Lari. Thank you.

Learn how you can donate today HERE.



Dropping Dimes & Lawrence, IN Police Put Best Foot Forward

via Dana Benbow, IndyStar
homeless new shoes new format

via Lawrence, IN Police Department

The homeless man in Lawrence who lost his house in a fire, fell on hard times, then was surprised with a pair of size 17 sneakers to replace his tattered ones.  After seeing his worn out shoes, the [police] officers went on a search for new ones…

To put it in perspective, the average man wears size 10.5. The average NBA player’s foot is a size 14.81. The largest shoe sizes on the Pacers roster are an 18, worn by Myles Turner, and 16, worn by Ian Mahinmi and Lavoy Allen.

Walking into a Wal-Mart or Goodwill, or even an upscale athletic shoe store and finding a size 17 just doesn’t happen. Most don’t carry those in stock. The shoes have to be special ordered and they are pricey.


via IndyStar

“Finding big shoes, comfortable shoes, athletic shoes that can be worn every day for these men, it’s tough,” said Scott Tarter, president and co-founder of Dropping Dimes Foundation, which helps former ABA players who have fallen on hard times. “That’s one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced.”

After the story [first] appeared in IndyStar… Dropping Dimes Foundation — which helps former ABA players who have fallen on tough financial times — donated a pair of shoes.

Read full story HERE.



Reggie Miller Joins Dropping Dimes Foundation

Reggie Miller always looked up to his Uncle Mel. Now he’s stepping up for him.

Miller, the Indiana Pacers’ career scoring leader, has joined the Advisory Board of the Dropping Dimes Foundation, filling the position formerly held by his fellow Naismith Hall of Famer and Pacers legend Mel Daniels, who passed away in October of 2015.

reggie and melThe Indianapolis-based Dropping Dimes Foundation assists former players and family members of the American Basketball Association who have fallen on hard times. Other members of the Advisory Board are Bob Costas, Bob and Nancy Leonard, George Gervin, Dan Issel, Louie Dampier, Spencer Haywood, George McGinnis, Bob Netolicky, Mack Calvin, Brian Taylor and Peter Vecsey.

Miller was befriended by “Uncle Mel and Uncle Roger (Brown)” and other ABA Pacers when he was drafted by the team in 1987. He said he wanted to honor his late friends and the league that helped change basketball but whose players received relatively small salaries and have been largely forgotten.

“Mel Daniels knew how essential it was to help those who came before us, especially when they were in need,” said Miller, the first member of the Advisory Board to have spent his entire career in the NBA. “Our generation has been given opportunities as the result of battles fought by these players and we can never forget their importance. I am honored to help continue Uncle Mel’s mission.”

“We’re so honored to have Reggie on our Advisory Board,” said Scott Tarter, president and co-founder of the charity. “What a perfect fit to fill the position left by the great Mel Daniels, who was our greatest inspiration here at the Dropping Dimes Foundation.”

Miller, a five-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, will assume what’s now called the Mel Daniels Memorial Advisory Board Position.

In February, Dropping Dimes made its first foray out of the state, traveling to Louisville to help former Kentucky Colonel Ron Thomas. Pacers legends Netolicky and Darnell Hillman joined former Colonels Issel, Dampier, Joe Hamilton and Bird Averitt in providing Thomas with new clothes, ABA memorabilia and an afternoon of memories and good cheer.

Dropping Dimes also recently fulfilled former Pacer Charlie Jordan’s wish for a new suit so he could attend church, and also provided him with a new walker, more “big and tall” clothing and ABA memorabilia. Daniels and Netolicky helped him pick out the suit.

Make a contribution today!




Dropping Dimes & ESPN Radio with the Assist

The Dropping Dimes Foundation came together with former American Basketball Association players and ESPN Radio AM Radio 680 to help former Kentucky Colonels Players Ron Thomas (’72-’76) and Bird Averitt (’74-’76).  ABA players in attendance included Bob Netolicky, Darnell “Dr. Dunk” Hillman, Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Joe Hamilton,  Van Vance (Colonels’ radio/TV broadcaster), and Lloyd Gardner (Colonels’ longtime medical trainer and biographer).  Learn how you can make an assist today HERE.

While in Louisville, the former American Basketball Association alumni stopped by ESPN Radio with former Kentucky Colonel Mike Pratt to rehash stories from around the league.  You can listen to the show here:

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Enjoy the gallery from events of the day: 

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