Last month Indianapolis Star reporter Nate Taylor made a case for election of George McGinnis to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The assertion was based on statistics—an excellent body of work achieved by a deserving candidate. Nonetheless, the efforts to elect McGinnis have failed each year since his eligibility in 1988, and time is running short. Perhaps the voters should know more. Who is George McGinnis?
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For most basketball fans of a certain age, any discussion of the American Basketball Association (ABA) conjures thoughts of that trademark red, white and blue basketball, the three-point shot and a flashier up-tempo style of play.
However, the ABA lasted just nine full seasons, from 1967-76. Four teams from the league (the N.Y. Nets, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers) were absorbed by the NBA, while the rest of the teams ceased operations.
ABA players not affiliated with the Nets, Nuggets, Spurs or Pacers were chosen from a draft pool by other NBA teams. While ABA talent could hardly be considered inferior to NBA talent, several ABA players, for various reasons, never played in the NBA or did not play in the NBA long enough to be eligible for pension benefits. Since the ABA itself did not maintain a pension plan, many of its players have therefore experienced significant economical hardships in their lives after basketball. Enter Dr. John Abrams, Scott Tarter and the Dropping Dimes Foundation.
The year was 1973. San Antonio, Lang’s hometown, had a chance to vault itself onto the national pro sports landscape via entry into the American Basketball Association. But for the landmark event to occur, business titan B.J. “Red” McCombs and stockbroker Angelo Drossos needed investors to help them relocate the struggling Dallas Chaparrals to the Alamo City and HemisFair Arena… Drossos began by appealing to Lang’s civic pride, saying the presence of an ABA team would raise the city’s profile and help attract Fortune 500 companies. Lang listened intently, partly because of his love for basketball but also because he enjoyed hearing Drossos talk.
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This Veterans Day, the Dropping Dimes Foundation would like to thank all the service men and women who have kept, and who continue to keep, our country the shining symbol of hope it has symbolized since its founding. Without the sacrifices of these men and women and their families, we would not be able to have the freedoms we enjoy every day. [su_spacer size=”15″]
In basketball, as in most sports, we often use superfluous adjectives and give larger-than-life descriptions for the players and coaches who catch our attention and ignite our wonderment at their athleticism and skill. The famous Dick Vitale made a living off of coining phrases like “Diaper Dandies.” The American Basketball Association consisted of legends like “Dr. J” and “The A-Train.” Meanwhile, recently passed and long-time UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian was dubbed “Tark the Shark.” Today we argue over the winner of an imaginary game of 21 between “Air Jordan”, the “Black Mamba”, and “King James”. Throughout it all we have always looked up to and admired the “heroes” of the game. [su_spacer size=”15″]
American service men and women are true heroes who often do not earn the fandom or receive the larger-than-life descriptions. Yet they put everything on the line for us. In conjunction with our heartfelt thanks this Veterans Day, we would like to share several American Basketball Association stories from the league’s ties to the military:[su_spacer size=”15″]
Leslie A. Powell: A dominating player out of California, Powell was a shining star out of the Santa Fe High School Class of 1963. He was rumored to potentially be so great that he could play pro ball straight out of high school. He was recruited by coaches and scouts everywhere, but instead enlisted to help fight in Vietnam. Instead of the pro basketball record books, Powell’s name can now be found on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. In 1969 he was killed by enemy gunfire while sacrificing himself to save 8 fellow soldiers.
Mel Daniels: As part of an American Basketball Association trip which brought league stars to Vietnam to visit wounded troops, Daniels had a “frightening experience” he explained to local newspapers. “I never saw anything like it and I never will forget it…I saw a South Vietnam solder who had stepped on a mine and had his leg blown off. I saw a woman who had been badly shot…Another guy had two fingers shot off.” While Daniels did not see combat, the horrors of war were not lost on him.
Champ Summers: More known for his baseball achievements, Summers was a paratrooper in Vietnam for a year before finding his way back home. He experienced a small stint in the American Basketball Association with the Memphis Tams but eventually he turned over to baseball. For good reason too, as he would become an MLB star.
Robert “Bill” Daniels: A WWII fighter-pilot, Daniels served on both the North African and Pacific fronts. After the war he successfully went into the cable television world, and later served as President of the American Basketball Association. He also went on to own or share ownership in several successful professional sports teams.
Willie Harris: An Air Force basketball standout, Harris served state side during the Vietnam era – much like David Robinson a few decades later. Harris then went on to play in both the NBA and the ABA, including the Denver Nuggets and the Kentucky Colonels. After knee problems he was forced to retire from the professional game, and became a professional stunt-man in Hollywood.[su_spacer size=”15″]
If you have any American Basketball Association stories you would like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pro Basketball Hall of Famer – Community Leader – Mentor – Devoted Husband & Father – Loyal Friend….. Since Mel Daniels’ passing Friday, October 30th, all those whose lives were touched by the 6’9” former center have showered their love and appreciation in a manner that should only be expected for such a wonderful man. Mel was celebrated for his raw toughness on the court, and deeply loved for the unwavering passion and commitment he had for those fortunate enough to have been in his large circle of family and friends. As a longtime supporter and champion of his peers in the American Basketball Association, and so many others in his community, he will be greatly missed.
Mel was a man who put duty, and the interests and needs of others before himself. His longtime ABA coach and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby “Slick” Leonard has often been quoted saying Mel gave everything he had when he was between the lines for his team. The same can be said of Mel in all aspects of his life. It’s no wonder Mel was the team captain of our Dropping Dimes Foundation family, and an extremely active member of the advisory board. Even in his 2012 introduction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Mel spoke out in support of all the other ABA greats he played with and against. He consistently touted the importance of recognizing the talent and achievements of the players and coaches from around the American Basketball Association, and what they did for the game of basketball. In the video below from the Basketball Hall of Fame, you can watch Mel’s acceptance speech:
On the court, Mel was known for his ferocious play. He was a true big-man, even at only 6’9”, something rarely seen in today’s professional basketball game. Posting up, back to the basket, he ignited the crowd by dunking over opponents. Mel did not succeed because he was tall, or simply because of his natural talent; he absolutely earned his recognition and success. A work-horse for his team, he was honored with the ABA’s first Rookie of the Year Award in 1968, when he played for the Minnesota Muskies, contributing an average of 22.2 points and 15.6 rebounds a game.
He wouldn’t stop there, however. As an Indiana Pacer, Mel was a pivotal cog in the team’s drive to win league championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973. In 1969 and 1971, the American Basketball Association named Mel the Most Valuable Player. Check out the clip below where Mel scored 19 points (an average game for him) in the 1973 American Basketball Association’s Final against the Kentucky Colonels, who themselves featured 3 future Hall of Famers — Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel and Louis Dampier:
The league’s all-time leading rebounder, Mel was also named a five-time all-ABA team member and was a seven-time All-Star. He was revered by his teammates and fans, and intimidating to his opponents. As a player, his contemporaries, such as Julius “Dr. J” Erving, have spoken out with great respect as to Mel’s work ethic and tenacity. Later, as a coach, he continued to shape the game, including at Indiana State where he coached a young forward from French Lick, Indiana – Larry Bird. After coaching, his commitment to the Indiana Pacers continued throughout his life, serving as an assistant coach, Director of Player Personnel, and scout for many years. Check out the NBA’s collection of memorable highlights from Mel’s career, along with insights from various basketball stars on what kind of player and person Mel was:
In his final years, the Dropping Dimes Foundation was extremely honored to have Mel leading the charge in helping former American Basketball Association players, coaches, and families who have become disadvantaged and are falling on hard times. Mel was surrounded by many of his former teammates and ABA peers in Dropping Dimes Foundation initiatives, including one memorable event when Mel and former teammate Bob Netolicky reflected on a particular time when Mel got into a “fight” with Wilt Chamberlain:
Most recently, Mel demonstrated once again the personal integrity and kindness he brought to the world through a very simple but very significant act of kindness for former ABA Pacer player Charlie Jordan. Jordan, who has been battling a series of medical complications, had one wish: a new suit so he could go to church. At 6’8”, the 61 year old was unable to find an affordable solution, so Mel spearheaded a Dropping Dimes Foundation “assist” to help Jordan get a new tailored suit.
Mel Daniels helps Charlie Jordan try on a new suit.
Mel was truly beloved by everyone around him. Mel was so many things to so many people. It was his relentless commitment to living life to fullest that made him so successful, respected, and most importantly loved. We should all aspire to his unyielding drive to serve others less fortunate than himself. Mel once told us that he believed when a person is born blessed, particularly blessed with good health, size and strength, it is absolutely incumbent upon that person to help those smaller, weaker or less healthy. In a world where the news is too often filled with stories of people making the opposite choice, we hope Mel’s courage, wisdom, strength and kindness will be carried on by those who have been touched by him, directly and indirectly.
In the days following Mel Daniels’ death, friends and former opponents have echoed this same truth. Daniels was a strong man. Strong enough to have had a 48-year dunking shelf life – first rising and slamming as a teenager in Detroit then throwing one down as a 61-year-old man with an AARP card, because he wanted to show he still had it.
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48 years ago tonight, the American Basketball Association tipped off into full gear. Over its nine year span the league saw some of basketball’s greatest players to ever step onto the hardwood. While the league was full of Hall of Famers, however, some of the greatest acts came from what so many of the ABA family did and continues to do off the court.
In line with the Dropping Dime Foundation’s mission to serve former American Basketball Association players who have become disadvantaged, we would like to reflect on all the excitement and amazing achievements with the players, coaches, and personalities we have been able to work with to date.
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Four former Pacers remain on the list of players eligible for direct selection from the ABA to the Hall of Fame, bypassing the standard nominating process. One in particular stands out. George McGinnis was as good as any player in the game during his peak period in the mid-Seventies, ABA or NBA.
McGinnis was co-Most Valuable Player of the ABA with Julius Erving in the 1974-75 season, when he averaged 29.8 points, 14.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.6 steals. He led the Pacers to a surprising journey to the ABA finals that season, averaging 32.3 points, 15.9 rebounds, 8.2 assists, two steals and 6.2 turnovers in the playoffs.
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Moses Malone, a three-time NBA MVP and Hall of Fame player who was one of the most dominant centers of his era, has died at the age of 60. Malone became one of the first high school players to turn pro, choosing to sign with the Utah Stars of the ABA rather than attend the University of Maryland after he graduated from Petersburg, Va., High School. After the ABA and NBA merged, Malone went on to play for the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Bullets, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs.
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Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)