Established in 1967, the ABA helped change professional basketball for the better before “merging” with the NBA in 1976. To name only a few positive developments resulting from the ABA:
– Players got paid more due to the competition for their services;
– Fans were treated to a faster paced game and the introduction of the 3-point shot; and
– The sport got stronger as superstars became ambassadors for the game.
At the same time, fans had to put up with questionable styles (such as the red, white and blue basketball), and players had to endure schemes to convince them to join the newer league. As described in the following post, Jim Chones was such a player who joined the ABA under unsavory circumstances.
As a junior at the University of Tennessee, Heath Shuler finished second in the 1993 Heisman voting. Considered the most NFL-ready quarterback, Shuler skipped his senior year and entered the 1994 Draft. Apparently, Washington agreed with that assessment and took him with the #3 overall pick. Despite any lofty projections, Shuler compiled an 8-14 record as an NFL QB. Since hanging up his cleats, he went into real estate before going into politics. Based on his professional choices, Shuler’s role in the Dish Network commercial may have been the least acting he’s done in the last 20 years.
On June 24, 1998, Dallas Mavericks’ GM Don Nelson masterminded two trades which converted the team’s 1998 and 1999 first round draft picks into Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. In one night, the fortunes of the NBA’s perennial doormat started to change. This post examines the rise of the Mavericks from a disfunctional loser (phase 1) to a consistent winner (phase 2) to NBA Champions (phase 3). Both Nowitzki and Nash helped the team escape from phase 1 to phase 2 while Nowitzki put the team on his back to take it to phase 3.