Abe Saperstein and the American Basketball League, 1960–1963

The Upstarts Who Shot for Three and Lost to the NBA


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About the Book

This book examines the American Basketball League and its short history, beginning with its conception in 1959–60 and its two seasons of play, 1961–1963. The league was the first to use a trapezoidal, wider lane and a 30-second shot clock, as well as the 3–point shot. With a team in Hawaii, the league created an adjusted schedule to accommodate the outsize distance. Many players such as Connie Hawkins and Bill Bridges and coaches such as Jack McMahon and Bill Sharman later found their way to the NBA after the collapse of the league, but it took more than 15 years for wide acceptance of the 3-point shot. John McLendon and Ermer Robinson were the first two African American coaches in a major professional league as they both debuted in the ABL.

About the Author(s)

A professor emeritus of Education and American Studies at Penn State University, Murry R. Nelson is the author of a history of the New York Celtics, as well as biographies of Bill Russell and Shaquille O’Neal.

Bibliographic Details

Murry R. Nelson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 10 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7244-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0128-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction: An American Basketball League Overview  1

One. The ABL—the “Run Up”  13

Two. The Formation of a New League, Rules, Constitution, Referees and More  29

Three. ABL Financing—Expectations, Hopes, Realities  37

Four. The Exiles and the Deserters  51

Five. The Coaches and the Starting Fives  70

Six. Chicago, Battleground of the ABL and the NBA  97

Seven. The 1961-1962 Season (First Half)  109

Eight. The 1961-1962 Season (Second Half)  125

Nine. The ABL Begins a Second Year, 1962-1963  139

Ten. The ABL, and Then What?  158

Appendix 1. Team Standings, 1961-1962  167

Appendix 2. ABL Scoring, 1961-1962  168

Appendix 3. Team Standings, 1962-1963  177

Appendix 4. ABL Scoring, 1962-1963  178

Appendix 5. ABL Most Valuable Player and All-­League Teams, 1961-1962  182

Chapter Notes  185

Bibliography  197

Index  207

Book Reviews & Awards

“What a delightful read!…Written in a breezy conversational style and packed full of details.”—Michael Domjan, University of Texas-Austin.