Basketball in the 70s
Professional sports were as popular as ever in the 1970s, but basketball was one of those sports that really grew in popularity during the decade.
Though the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed in the late 1940s, it blossomed the most during the 1970s, growing from just 9 franchises in 1966 to double that by the middle of the following decade.
By the time the 70s were done, there were 22 franchises in all.
Teams that were added to the NBA in the 70s included Portland Trailblazers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Buffalo Braves (now known as the Los Angeles Clippers), New Orleans Jazz (now located in Utah), New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs.
In addition to the NBA, the American Basketball Association (ABA) – which got its start in 1967 – also grew during the early part of the 70s, drafting such greats as Julius “Dr. J.” Erving.
The ABA boasted 11 teams in all at its start and eventually grew to 38. Some folded during the early 1970s while others lasted until the middle of the decade. Some later joined the NBA.
Some of the most notable basketball stars of the 1970s included:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Originally named Lew Alcindor, Abdul-Jabbar started the 70s playing with the Milwaukee Bucks and then went to the Lakers. When he retired, he was the all-time NBA leader for points scored, games played, minutes played, field goals made, field goal attempts, blocked shots, defensive rebounds, and personal fouls.
Rick Barry – Known as one of the best small forwards of all time, Barry played for both the ABA and NBA, enjoying stints with a total of 7 different teams. He was also known for his amazing outside shot.
Dave Cowens – 6 foot, 9 inch Cowens played for the Boston Celtics from 1970 until 1980. He won Rookie of the Year in 1970 and went on to earn MVP awards later in the decade.
Julius Erving – Dr. J. began the 1970s playing for the ABA Virginia Squires but earned his fame during his stints with the New York Nets (until 1976) and the Philadelphia 76ers (1976-1987). He is credited with launching a modern style of basketball that included lots of leaping and play above the rim.
Walt Frazier – This famous NBA guard led the New York Knicks to the championship twice during the 70s – in 1970 and 1973. In 1977, he went to the Cleveland Cavaliers and continued a notable career, being named an NBA all-star seven times during the 1970s.
Pete Maravich – “Pistol Pete” Maravich is still the all-time leading NCAA Division I point scorer and earned his NBA props during his time with the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans (Utah) Jazz, and Boston Celtics. A 5-time NBA all-star, Maravich retired in 1980 after knee problems and passed away 8 years later at age 40.