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Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association
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Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,411 ratings  ·  69 reviews
What do Julius Erving, Larry Brown, Moses Malone, Bob Costas, the Indiana Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Slam Dunk Contest have in common? They all got their professional starts in the American Basketball Association.

The NBA may have won the financial battle, but the ABA won the artistic war. With its stress on wide-open individual play, the adoption of the 3-poin
ebook, 464 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,346)
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Phil Overeem
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had no idea how influential the red, white and blue basketball was to the modern NBA — from expansion teams to stat-taking, to the three pointer and the slam dunk contest. This book will change your view of modern professional basketball. It's a thorough account of the ABA, recounted mostly by the original players, coaches, owners, etc. Readers expecting nothing but funky anecdotes, on-court war stories and sexual exploits might be disappointed — the book puts a lot of focus on business, locke ...more
John Nelson
I am old enough to remember the American Basketball Association, at least during its final years. That statement dates me to some extent. It also means I know that, contrary to common wisdom, the ABA was far superior to the more-established National Basketball Association during its last years.

This book is a history of the ABA as told by many of its most significant players, coaches, promoters, and others. In addition to great players, the ABA had more than its share of colorful characters and o
Chris Jennings
This book tickled all of my sports nerd fancies. Oh how little I knew of the marvelous disaster that was the ABA. It was such a huge part of our professional basketball heritage that far too few modern NBA fans appreciate. You may know the 4 ABA teams that jumped to the NBA (Pacers, Nets, Nuggets, Spurs), you may remember the patriotic ball, and that they invented the 3-point shot and Slam Dunk Contest. But there is so much more to this story. Teams would fold, relocate, miss payroll, change are ...more
Apr 06, 2010 Dave rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone really interested in a history of basketball in America
EXCELLENT book and an essential read for anyone interested in the game of basketball. Loose Balls tells the story of the nine-year of the American Basketball Association from the late 60's-mid 70s that was created as a competitor to the National Basketball Association, which is of course still around today and thriving. At first the ABA was a gimmick league with no respect, but with time some notoriety was gained with the signings of big names like Artis Gilmore, Moses Malone, David Thompson and ...more
Loose Balls, by Terry Pluto, was a very informative and highly entertaining book about the American Basketball Association (the ABA; which lasted from 1967 to 1976) and the players, coaches, owners, stories, and legends that made it what it was. I was forced to read this book for a school project as I was out of town the day my group had to submit a book title to the teacher. As I am a football fan and am not particularly interested in basketball whatsoever, at first I judged the book by its co ...more
Sam Bauman
This book is an oral history of the ABA. There are a lot of wild stories in that made me laugh out loud. If you've seen the Will Ferrell movie, Semi-Pro, you probably thought it was too ridiculous to be true. Well, it wasn't. It might have been too tame (except for the bear wrestling). There was some crazy stuff going on. From players being sold, to players getting in fights, millions of dollars in lawsuits, to the Dolgoff plan (contracts were announced at a certain amount, but often times a hug ...more
A good book for a basketball fan, especially one interested in some quirky history of the game (certainly avoid if you're not interested in hoops). Simply stated, this is about the characters, teams and personalities of the ABA, told in the social context of the late-60s/early-70s. Lots of fun - just don't take it too seriously.

I took off stars because of some readability issues. The author did an overwhelming amount of research for this book, interviewing many people associated with the ABA. So
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Jonathan Mas
After reading this, I totally understand what made Will Ferrell think it was a good idea to make Semi-Pro. There are plenty of great stories about the ridiculous life in the ABA both on and off the court. I found the business side of things to be way more interesting. The style this book is written in, basically edited transcripts from ABA players, coaches, and execs is a little slow at times. However, if you are a fan of basketball or just want to thumb through some killer stories about the mos ...more
Mark Ganek
Amazing anecdotes about dunks, fights, and lunatics from the league whose style now dominates the NBA. Disrespected and underpaid, not to mention unfilmed, the players of this era exist now only in tall tales of bizarre incidents. Did a player really say about a flight that landed five minutes before it took off due to time zones, "I ain't getting on no time machine"? Did an angry guard really throw a show at someone on a breakaway? Well, they did, at least according to the coaches and players.

Donald Baker
Definitely a good read if you want a history of the old ABA. Its downfall, IMO, is the excrutiating details about the minutia of the financial issues and the acquisition of various players. Its shortcomings, IMO, are not enough whacky stories and hardly any recognition of how the ABA changed pro ball permanently.

I remember things like dog cart races at half time. In IND we had a dude named Dancing Harry who was allowed to dance in front of the opponents bench and cast spells on them.

I also rem
Graham Polando
A little bit overrated, but a very fun read. While the book is 95% interviews, Pluto’s contribution--conducting the interviews and assembling them in a narrative that flows well both topically and chronologically--is more substantial than one might think.

It’s especially interesting evaluating the “evidence”--Pluto does a great job of comparing accounts of certain events side-by-side, and it’s unexpectedly pleasant when one can reconcile two versions of a story.

What keeps this from being a perfec
Growing up in Western PA the only pro basketball team around was the Pittsburgh Pipers led by Connie Hawkins. This was a fun audio book to listen to about the ABA, the league that introduced the red white and blue ball, the 3 point shot and the slam dunk competition. It also brought us players like Julius Erving, George Gervin, George McGinnis, Artis Gilmore, and Moses Malone. And crazy characters like Warren Jabali, John Brisker, Fly Williams and Marvin Barnes. The ABA gave starts to coaches li ...more
Shalon Montgomery
Only negative thing to say about this book is it could have been 50 to 70 pages shorter but aside from that.its the best interview book I ever read and am hard pressed to believe I will read a better one in my lifetime. The quotes that have stuck in theses individuals brains for a lifetime are some of the funniest things I've ever read and no television show or movie I have watched has come close to triumphing the dialogue. The ABA's road into the NBA should be taught in every business school in ...more
Cunni Moeller
Finished this book awhile back and forgot to review it.
What a wonderful time in basketball and also a time when business did not always rule.
Aug 11, 2008 Robert rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basketball fans
So far this is quite good. I have a NBA tape I used to watch all the time that featured about 5 minutes of ABA footage (most of that being Dr. J) and that was probably the most interesting part of the video. Erving, Rick Barry, and Connie Hawkins are fascinating characters in this documentary style book.
About 95% of the book is direct quotes, assembled in a linear fashion and tells the wild, makeshift stories that originated in the league's 9 years.
It's all here- the hyped press, bare bones man
Scott Browne
I did not like the format of the book with short blurbs credited to different people, but the story of the ABA is fascinating. I recommend it to all basketball fans.
Rory Costello
The NBA has lost me over the past several years. But I used to really love pro basketball, and being a kid in the '70s, I remember the ABA fondly...I had a red-white-and-blue ball (the one Coach Alex Hannum said belonged on the end of a seal's nose).

This book is chock full of all the rollicking anecdotes anybody could possibly want about this now long-vanished circuit and its run-and-gun game, monster Afros, on-court fights, constantly shifting and folding franchises, and financial shenanigans.
Oct 17, 2008 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any sports fan or avid reader of history/humor
Recommended to Kelly by: Jon/Bill Simmons
Written with solely from first-person accounts, this book is one of the only chronicles of the defunct ABA (American Basketball Association). It is the basketball version of the anthology that tells the history of SNL - it is written in entirely the same format.

Even if you aren't a big basketball fan, it's really more of a story of a bunch of guys who wanted to put together something special and all the bonehead things they do in the process. But, they did make a significant impact on the cultur
One of the funniest books ever written about professional sports. Buy at all costs if you love the game of basketball.

The ABA was the generator for many of the NBA rules, regulations and even the star players of the 1970s. The three point shot was used in the ABA first. Dr. J played for the New York Nets and the Virginia Squires before making the move over to the 76ers. Some great stories here about oddballs like Marvin "Bad News" Barnes and Bob Netolicky.

Great book about an innovative league d
Elliot Chalom
400+ pages of the craziest, wildest, most entertaining stories ever told, all in the form of first-person accounts from very well-respected basketball men (Bob Costas, Rod Thorn, Larry Brown, and Hubie Brown are among those extensively quoted). The book is also well organized, comprehensive, and serves as the defining history of a decade of basketball that would otherwise be lost forever. It’s simply a must read.

Check out my full review over at:
This was as fun a book to read as the ABA action was to watch. I was fortunate to live close to an ABA franchise...Denver (Rockets-Nuggets) and so I was able to see some of the action. I always felt I could watch forever, I couldn't get enough! I LOVED the ABA and couldn't stand all the old stuffy nba with their brown ball. Watching that ABA ball was a blast. Hearing Julius Erving tell how he loved it was great to hear. This book was was the American Basketball Association itself!
This is THE book on the old ABA. A fascinating look back at the league, it's players, managers, owners, fans and announcers. You won't believe some of the crazy stuff that happened during the short tenure of the ABA. This is an older book (1990, I believe) with an updated forward (2006). I'm pretty sure I read it way back when but it still seemed fresh to me as I read it recently. Just a fun book with colorful characters telling their stories.
Understand that my 5 is from a basketball stathead and lover of sports history. This is a must read for so many reasons. The ABA had such a big influence on modern basketball, it's not even funny. A lot of modern day "advanced stats" were both founded and understood by people in the ABA. And beyond those two parts, this book is just damned fascinating. So much incredible sports drama happened in the ABA that I had no idea about. Must read.
This oral history of the wild, wacky ABA is a delight from start to finish. The league with the red, white and blue ball, massive Afros and 3-point line (long before the NBA) sure had some characters (and good basketball). For every massively talented Julius Erving, there was a violent, ass-kicking John Williamson. Bob Costas is among the significant contributors to this book, and his observations from his early broadcasting days are classic.
My different style than "The Book of Basketball". In this the author collected anecdotes from people who participated in the ABA to provide a profile of the ABA. The author's voice was pretty much non-existent, you could tell he had a reporter background. "The Book of Basketball" has a very strong author voice, and I think is less readable because of it. If you like basketball, I definitely recommend this book. The ABA was crazy.
This was an entertaining and interesting history of the ABA with some great stories and background descriptions of various players and teams. Going into it, I was skeptical of the oral history format of the book, but it worked well. For my tastes, it was a little long and would have been more interesting if it were about 100 pages shorter. But, this is still probably the most lively sports history book I have read. I recommend it.
Todd Johnson
It's crazy how long ago this book makes the 70s seem.

Anyway, the book was often hilarious, and as a basketball nerd was continually fascinating. Highly recommended.

Here's maybe the best way I can sum this up: I'd be surprised if any who's into the NBA made it all the way through the book without searching eBay 'Baltimore Claws' or 'ABA game ball' or something. Just to see what's out there.
An oral history of the wild and crazy ABA. One of the best sports books I have read. It's interesting to see how much the ABA influenced the pro game we have today. It's entertaining, informative, and funny. The pictures alone are almost worth buying the book - afros and wild clothes from the 70's. Some great stories- like how the ABA almost landed Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
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Terry Pluto is a sports columnist for the Plain Dealer. He has twice been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the nations top sports columnist for medium-sized newspapers. He is a nine-time winner of the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year award and has received more than 50 state and local writing awards. In 2005 he was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame. He is the autho ...more
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