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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.

 

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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.

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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-

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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.

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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.

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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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Thank You to Our Veterans

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 info@droppingdimes.org.

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Celebrating the ABA After 48 Years

aba-photo48 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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ABA Pacer Gets His Wish

Indy Star

untitledCharlie Jordan woke up Friday morning plagued by dementia, riddled with arthritis, and, because of his sever diabetes, not allowed to eat his favorite breakfast, one filled with sweets. On this day, none of that mattered to Jordan. Today, he would get a new suit…

Read more here.

 

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Dropping Dimes Foundation tips-off fundraising efforts to aid former ABA players

Vigilant Sports

On a Sunday evening in mid-July, seven former ABA Pacers were together in one room — for one cause they care dearly about.

If you knew these guys, you would know coming together is nothing out of the ordinary for them. They’ll often meet up at one of their houses and hang out. Some attend Pacers games regularly. The men (and their families) have remained close through the decades as the American Basketball Association merged with the National Basketball Association we know today back in 1976.

Read more here.