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SLAM Magazine: ABA Players Get Back on Their Feet

SLAM Magazine – Anel Ganic

The ABA, American Basketball Association, was renowned for its flashy play that was a favorite amongst basketball fans back in the league’s heyday. The rival to the NBA featured legends like Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Dan “The Horse” Issel, Rick “The Miami Greyhound” Barry, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. In short, the ABA was basketball entertainment at its finest during the nine years it was around.

In ’76, the ABA merged with the NBA, but only the four most successful franchises were welcomed into the Association. Those four franchises were the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York (now Brooklyn) Nets and the San Antonio Spurs. While some players found success in the NBA, the merger left plenty of ABA guys high and dry. These ballers didn’t have any pension benefits and fell into difficult financial situations.

This is where the Dropping Dimes Foundation comes in.

This not-for-profit Foundation was founded by Scott Tarter and Dr. John Abrams in an effort to lend a hand to many of these old-school ballers.

A few years ago Tarter was working with documentary film producer Ted Green when he met Abrams, who is a local doctor in Indianapolis and the Pacers’ eye doctor. While both of them were supporting Green, they found out that they had a mutual love for the ABA. They ended up working with a lot of their ABA heroes who would always talk about a lot of lesser-known players who needed help. After doing research, Tarter and Abrams found out that there aren’t any programs that help with getting ABA players back on their feet. Noticing that there is a void, the two linked up and started the Dropping Dimes Foundation.

“These guys were being contracted in a range of $12,000-$50,000 a year,” says Tarter. “There were no established or viable healthcare or pension plans. They were at a huge disadvantage.”

One of the great aspects of Dropping Dimes, besides the work they do to assist old ABA players, is that its advisory board is filled with ABA and NBA legends. The advisory board consists of ex-players like Bobby Leonard, Issel, George McGinnis, Reggie Miller and ancillary members of the basketball community, such as renowned sportscaster Bob Costas. All these guys go above and beyond to volunteer with the foundation.

“I got a call from the guys who started the foundation. It was trying to find a way to help some of those guys who played in the old ABA,” says McGinnis. “[Scott] talked to myself, Bob Leonard, Mel Daniels, Darnell Hillman, Billy Keller, and a few other people. We all got on board with it and that’s kind of how it all started.”

Dropping Dimes doesn’t just help out these ABA players financially, they do much more. For example, Ron Thomas who played for the Kentucky Colonels during the ’70s lives in a nursing home and Tarter and some of the advisory board members paid him a visit. They gave him shoes and clothing. Another gift they gave him was a blown up Topps basketball card. Tarter says they do that for every player and if the player doesn’t have a card, they make one for them. After that, they just hung out with him and Thomas was loving it.

“There are a lot of ABA players that didn’t make a lot of money,” adds Issel. “Some of those former players need some help right now. I have very fond memories of me in my ABA days. It was a fun league and we had a lot of exceptional talent. My ABA days hold a special place for me.”

Tarter’s hopes to help as many ABA players as he can so that in a few years this Foundation won’t be necessary.

“We’ve got some guys here who are great people. There’s just a lot of people involved,”Leonard said. “When you can help somebody else, especially guys that you knew and coached against. You want to do that.”

 

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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.

INI_shoeSizeCompare_online

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.

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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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American Basketball Association Greats On ESPN Radio February 19th

Be sure to tune in Friday February 19th at 12:00pm ET to hear the Dropping Dimes Foundation join University of Kentucky sports analysts and former Kentucky Colonel Mike Pratt, as they host former American Basketball Association players from the Kentucky Colonels and Indiana Pacers. The show will focus on the Foundation’s latest acts in memory of Mel Daniels, to come help former Kentucky Colonels player Ron Thomas.

The show can be heard on ESPN Radio AM Radio 680, FM Radio 105.7, or online at ESPN680.

The Indiana Pacers alumni will feature American Basketball Association greats Bob Netolicky and Darnell “Dr. Dunk” Hillman. Meanwhile, Kentucky Colonel alums will include Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Joe Hamilton,  Van Vance (Colonels’ radio/TV broadcaster), and Lloyd Gardner (Colonels’ longtime medical trainer and biographer).

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Check out some great shots from the Pacers and Colonels in action, courtesy of Remember The ABA.

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Sports Collector Digest Showcases Dropping Dimes Foundation

Sports Collector’s Digest

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.

Picture1-1024x682However, 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.

Read more here.


 

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Passionate Lang’s Perseverance with Spurs Paid Off

San Antonio Express News

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.

Read more here.


 

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Battle for the Soul of Basketball: Meet the All-1970s NBA and ABA Team

Wes_Unseld_and_Kareem_Abdul-Jabbar_0_0SB Nation

Tim Ziller has defended the ’70s before, notably in Free Darko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History. [His] argument was that it was a time of testing new limits, of parity and of transition. The glory of the ’80s was only possible because of the work done by Dr. J, Skywalker, The Ice Man, Kareem and the Rolls-Royce backcourt in the ’70s. Here’s another argument: the ’70s represented a battle for the soul of basketball.

Read more here.

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Remembering the ABA, the Upstart League that Challenged Pro Basketball and Won

aba-basketballSB Nation

The ABA began as a renegade league and ended up taking on the NBA, against all odds. Its legacy still lives on 39 years since its end.

Read more here.

 

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Bringing the funk: How the ABA changed the NBA forever

Fan Duel – AOL

Forty years ago this coming October, the American Basketball Association kicked off what would prove to be its final season, before merging with the NBA in 1977. But is “merging” really the proper way to describe the melding of the two preeminent hoops entities of the day? Well, that depends on what your definition of “merge” is. If you’re comfortable calling an esteemed older league absorbing a flailing younger league’s only four viable franchises a merger, then sure, it’s a merger.

Read more here.

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Haywood and Dampier Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

Dropping Dimes Advisory Board Member and ABA great Spencer Haywood and ABA All-Star Louie Dampier made it into the 2015 Class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Read more