The Pittsburgh Condors were a professional basketball team in the original American Basketball Association. Called the Pittsburgh Pipers, they were a charter franchise of the ABA and captured the first league title; the team played their home games in Pittsburgh's Civic Arena. The Pipers were one of the ABA's inaugural franchises in 1967; the team had great success on the court, posting the league's best record during the regular season and winning the league's first ABA Championship. The Pipers were led by their star player, ABA MVP and future Hall-of-Famer Connie Hawkins, who led the ABA in scoring at 26.8 ppg. The Pipers swept through the 1968 ABA Playoffs and defeated the New Orleans Buccaneers 4 games to 3 to take the title, with Hawkins earning Finals MVP honors; the ABA title remains Pittsburgh's only pro basketball championship. Pittsburgh Pipers vs. Indiana Pacers: Pipers win series 3-0 Game 1 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 146, Indiana 127 Game 2 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 121, Indiana 108 Game 3 @ Indiana: Pittsburgh 133, Indiana 114 Pittsburgh Pipers vs. Minnesota Muskies: Pipers win series 4-1 Game 1 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 125, Minnesota 117 Game 2 @ Pittsburgh: Minnesota 137, Pittsburgh 123 Game 3 @ Minnesota: Pittsburgh 107, Minnesota 99 Game 4 @ Minnesota: Pittsburgh 117, Minnesota 108 Game 5 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 114, Minnesota 105 Pittsburgh Pipers VS.
New Orleans Buccaneers: Pipers win Series 4-3 Game 1 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 120, New Orleans 112 Game 2 @ Pittsburgh: New Orleans 109, Pittsburgh 100 Game 3 @ New Orleans: New Orleans 109, Pittsburgh 101 Game 4 @ New Orleans: Pittsburgh 106, New Orleans 105 Game 5 @ Pittsburgh: New Orleans 111, Pittsburgh 108 Game 6 @ New Orleans: Pittsburgh 118, New Orleans 112 Game 7 @ Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh 122, New Orleans 113 The Pipers shared the Pittsburgh Civic Arena with the city's expansion National Hockey League team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pipers attracted respectable gates by ABA standards, averaging 3,200 fans per game. Despite the championship and strong attendance figures in Pittsburgh, the Pipers franchise left Pittsburgh after their 1968 ABA Championship and moved to Minnesota in 1968, becoming the Minnesota Pipers. Minnesota was left vacant when the Minnesota Muskies had trouble drawing people in the league's first season and moved to Miami to become the Miami Floridians; the ABA league office was based in Minneapolis, so the Pipers moved when a Minneapolis attorney named Bill Erickson bought a majority share of the team.
As with the Muskies, their home arena was Bloomington's Met Center. Despite making the playoffs, the Pipers' attendance settings fared no better than the Muskies and they moved back to Pittsburgh after only one season. In Terry Pluto's book on the ABA, Loose Balls, Pipers co-owner Gabe Rubin says he returned to the Steel City because he couldn't think of anywhere else to go. For the first season back in Pittsburgh the team retained the "Pipers" nickname. However, the team failed to match their previous success and fans stayed away. After the season, Haven Industries, maker of the "Jack Frost" brand of sugar products, bought the team and decided a name change was in order. A "name-the-team" contest yielded the nickname "Pittsburgh Pioneers." However, local NAIA school Point Park College had that nickname and threatened to sue. Ownership resolved the objection by changing the name to "Condors." Jack McMahon took over as coach. John Brisker and Mike Lewis played in the 1971 ABA All-Star Game, but the Condors could only manage a 36-48 record, fifth place in the Eastern Division and out of the playoffs.
While the Condors had a potent offense, they were undone by their defense. Attendance remained poor, with an announced average of 2,806, though some observers close to the team thought the actual average was less than half that. After a slow start, general manager Marty Blake decided to give away every available seat for an early-season game against Florida on November 17; the game attracted the biggest crowd that the team would draw under the Condors name as 11,012 tickets were given out. Ownership was not amused, Blake was fired soon after; the most memorable moment of the season came when Charlie "Helicopter" Hentz destroyed two backboards in a game against the Carolina Cougars. For the next season, Haven tried to change the Condors' image, with a new logo and uniforms, plus a slick marketing campaign. In October, they lured the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to Pittsburgh for an exhibition game, guaranteeing the Bucks $25,000. A local ad proclaimed "Bring on Alcindor" and that "the ABA-NBA merger is here".
For the Condors, Alcindor—who had changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar just a few days before the game—was injured and did not play. Only about eight to nine thousand fans showed up, the Condors "took a bath" on the deal—not a good start for the season. After a 4-6 start, general manager Mark Binstein fired McMahon for unknown reasons and named himself head coach; the move backfired disastrously. As the season progressed, attendance dropped below 1,000 fans per game, fueling speculation the Condors would fold before Christmas. While they did manage to survive into the
Warren Jabali was an American basketball player. He played professionally in the American Basketball Association from 1968 to 1975. Born Warren Edward Armstrong, Jabali changed his name while attending Wichita State University to reflect his African roots; the name does not have any religious connotations as it is a Swahili word for "rock." A skilled defender and rebounder and a remarkable leaper, the 6'2" Jabali was reported to be able to touch a ten-foot high basketball rim with his forehead. Although Wichita State, the Missouri Valley Conference in general, supplied many pro players of the era, he did not receive much attention from the National Basketball Association, he was drafted by the New York Knicks in the 4th round of the 1968 NBA draft. In his first season in the ABA, he won Rookie of the Year honors, prompting teammate Rick Barry to comment, "No doubt he's one of the best guards I've played with—or against"; that season, Jabali averaged 33.2 points against the Indiana Pacers in the 1969 ABA Finals and was named Playoffs MVP.
As one of the most physically gifted guards in the American Basketball Association, Warren Jabali muscled his way through seven straight seasons of double-digit scoring, including 1968–69, when his average of 21.5 points per game earned him ABA Rookie of the Year honors. That season Jabali's efforts helped bring an ABA Championship to the Oakland Oaks, a team that featured Rick Barry, Larry Brown, Doug Moe. Jabali became an instant star after coming into the league from Wichita State University. Although Barry, the Oaks' biggest attraction, won the league scoring title in 1968–69, he was only able to play in 35 games because of a severe knee ligament injury, it was Jabali, an immediate starter, who gave Coach Alex Hannum the extra scoring punch needed in Barry's absence. With Jabali aboard and Barry helping for part of the season, the Oaks recorded a stunning 38-game turnaround to post a league-best 60-18 record. In the playoffs, they went 12-4 on the way to claiming the ABA Championship. A year at midseason, with the team playing as the Washington Caps, an injury sidelined Jabali.
Hurt shortly after playing in his first of four ABA All-Star Games, he was carrying an average of 22.8 points per game at the time. Jabali made a comeback. In his first season back, 1970–71, he was traded from the Kentucky Colonels to the Indiana Pacers on October 13, 1970, in exchange for a first-round draft choice and cash. Jabali saw action in 62 games with the Pacers, it was with the Pacers. He had a big year with the Florida Floridians the following season, averaging 19.9 points and hitting 102 of his 286 three-point attempts, among the most in the league. When the Miami-based franchise folded, Jabali moved to the Denver Rockets. During his first campaign with the Rockets, Jabali's 16-point effort in the 1973 ABA All-Star Game keyed the West's come-from-behind victory and earned him Most Valuable Player honors; that game is referred to as the Jabali's Jamboree. After one more season in Denver and another with the San Diego Conquistadors, Jabali retired in 1975, at age 28. In his seven-year professional career, Jabali played for the Oakland Oaks, Washington Capitals, the Indiana Pacers, The Floridians, the Denver Rockets, the San Diego Conquistadors.
While playing for the Rockets in 1973, he was named the All-Star Game MVP and was named to the All-ABA First Team after averaging 17.0 points, 6.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds. Knee problems would soon limit his effectiveness, he retired in 1975, having achieved career averages of 17.1 points, 5.3 assists, 6.7 rebounds. Warren Jabali died on July 13, 2012. Career stats at basketball-reference.com Warren Jabali at Remember the ABA Warren Jabali in His Own Words at HoopsHype.com
The merger of the American Basketball Association with the National Basketball Association, after multiple attempts over several years, occurred in 1976. The NBA and ABA had entered merger talks as early as 1970, but an antitrust suit filed by the head of the NBA players union, Robertson v. National Basketball Ass'n, blocked the merger until 1976; as part of the merger agreement, the NBA agreed to accept four of the remaining six ABA teams: the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs. The remaining two ABA teams, the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis, with their players entering a dispersal draft. From the beginning, the ABA hoped to force a merger with the NBA, thus repeating the American Football League's successful effort to force a merger with the National Football League. According to The NBA Encyclopedia, ABA officials told prospective owners that they could get an ABA team for half of what it cost to get an NBA expansion team at the time; the upstart league's officials confidently predicted that if and when a merger occurred, any surviving owners would see their investment more than double.
In June 1970, only three years after the ABA began play, the NBA owners voted 13–4 to work toward a merger with the ABA. Seattle SuperSonics owner Sam Schulman, a member of the ABA–NBA merger committee in 1970, was so ardently eager to merge the leagues that he publicly announced that if the NBA did not accept the merger agreement worked out with the ABA, he would move the SuperSonics from the NBA to the ABA. Schulman threatened to move his soon-to-be ABA team to Los Angeles to compete directly with the Lakers; the owners of the Dallas Chaparrals were so confident of the impending merger that they suggested that the ABA hold off on scheduling and playing a regular season schedule for the 1971–72 season. After the 1970–71 season Basketball Weekly wrote "The American basketball public is clamoring for a merger. So are the NBA and ABA owners, the two commissioners, every college coach; the war is over. The Armistice will be signed soon"; the two leagues continued merger plans through the early and mid-1970s.
The early attempts at merging the ABA and NBA were delayed for years by litigation known as the Oscar Robertson suit, styled Robertson v. National Basketball Association, 556 F.2d 682. After the NBA owners voted in 1970 to merge with the ABA, the NBA Players Association filed a lawsuit in April 1970 to prevent the merger on antitrust grounds; the existence of the ABA resulted in increased salaries for players in both leagues as the ABA and NBA competed with each other to sign players. The Robertson suit was settled on February 3, 1976, but for the entirety of its pendency it presented an insurmountable obstacle to the desired merger of the two leagues. In 1972, Congress came close to enacting legislation to enable a merger despite the Oscar Robertson suit. In September 1972, a merger bill was reported favorably out of a U. S. Senate committee, but the bill was put together to please the owners, ended up not pleasing the Senators or the players; the bill subsequently died without coming to a floor vote.
When Congress reconvened in 1973, another merger bill was presented to the Senate, but did not advance. As a result of the legislation's failure the ABA installed a new commissioner, Mike Storen, with part of his focus being the eventual merger of the two leagues as equals. Alex Hannum, who coached in both the NBA and ABA, said at the time of Storen, "The most important problem he has is still the merger with the NBA, and I believe. Storen wants to build our league to be the strongest, he can negotiate with the NBA as an equal". Sports Illustrated noted at the time that "the tactics Storen says the ABA will employ sound a good deal more like those used by AFL Commissioner Al Davis in the last days of the football war than a plan for peaceful coexistence; the ABA has reinstituted its $300 million antitrust suit against the NBA. It may move some franchises into better TV markets, an ill-advised maneuver that will mean going against established NBA teams on their home turf, and for the first time since 1970 the ABA will go after established NBA players.'We will have exploratory contract talks with lots of their men,' Storen says.'Whether we'll sign none, six or 10 of them will depend on how things work out.
But you can be sure of one thing: we'll do this in a serious, orderly way'". As a result of the merger legislation not being enacted and the Oscar Robertson suit continuing, the two leagues did not merge until 1976, after the Oscar Robertson suit had been settled. In the summer before the 1971–72 season the ABA and NBA met in an interleague All Star Game; the NBA won a close game, 125–120. In that same preseason, ABA and NBA teams began playing exhibition games against each other; the first such exhibition was played on September 21, 1971 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks defeating the Dallas Chaparrals, 106–103. The ABA was 15–10 against the NBA in 1973, 16–7 in 1974, 31–17 in 1975. Overall, the ABA won more of these interleague games than the NBA did, in every matchup of reigning champions from the two leagues, the ABA champion won, including in the final pre-merger season when the Kentucky Colonels defeated the Golden State Warriors. Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan said of the ABA-NBA exhibition games: "When those exhibition games began, the view in the NBA was,'Now we'll show those guys.'
But you know what happened—the ABA teams won nearly as as the NBA did.... Those NBA–ABA games were intense". Longtime NBA coach Larry Brown said of the ABA vs. NBA games, "When some exhibition games were arranged in the 1970s to make some m
The Kentucky Colonels were a member of the American Basketball Association for all of the league's nine years. The name is derived from the historic Kentucky colonels; the Colonels won the most games and had the highest winning percentage of any franchise in the league's history, but the team did not join the NBA in the 1976 ABA–NBA merger. The downtown Louisville Convention Center was the Colonels' original venue for the first three seasons before moving to Freedom Hall for the remaining seasons, beginning with the 1970–71 schedule; the Kentucky Colonels were only one of two ABA teams, along with the Indiana Pacers, to play for the entire duration of the league without relocating, changing its team name, or folding. The Colonels were the only major league franchise in Kentucky since the Louisville Breckenridges left the National Football League in 1923; the Louisville-based Colonels started their time in the ABA as a colorful franchise, not just because of their bright chartreuse green uniforms.
Among the things they were known for was their "mascot" Ziggy, a prize-winning Brussels Griffon dog, owned by original team owners Joe and Mamie Gregory. They were famous for publicity stunts, their most famous coming in 1968 when Penny Ann Early, the first licensed female horse racing jockey, was signed to appear in an ABA game; the early color of their franchise began to wane during the 1970–71 season, when they signed another Wildcat star in All-American Dan Issel. They dropped the chartreuse green uniforms in favor of a blue and white scheme similar to that of the Wildcats. Another abnormality to the Colonels uniform change was that the players' last names on the back had only the first letter capitalized, as opposed to all capital letters, which are universally featured on the back of nearly every professional or collegiate basketball uniform which names on the back of jerseys are featured. Issel's signing helped. Despite an average record in the regular season, they made a serious run at the 1971 ABA championship.
They fell just short and lost to the Utah Stars in seven games. They proved to be better in 1971, with the signing of Artis Gilmore. Gilmore's signing would help make the Colonels a legitimate powerhouse for years to come; the Colonels won 68 games in his rookie campaign under coach Joe Mullaney. Yet, in the playoffs, they were upset by the New York Nets in the first round. Kentucky recovered and made another championship run during the 1972–73 playoffs, but lost a physical series to the Indiana Pacers in 7 games, 4 games to 3. After the season, the franchise was nearly moved out-of-state to Cincinnati, but was purchased by John Y. Brown, Jr. a future Kentucky governor who owned Kentucky Fried Chicken for years. Brown helped increase interest in the team, looked to improve its on-court performance by hiring popular ABA coach Babe McCarthy, but after they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Nets, Brown gave McCarthy his walking papers. For the 1974–75 season, Brown hired Hubie Brown, a former NBA assistant coach, to give them that championship.
Unlike the past year, the Colonels would not be denied. After a torrid finish to the regular season, which saw them win 23 of 26 games, they ripped through the playoffs, beat their nemesis, the Indiana Pacers, in a dominant 4 games to 1 victory to win the 1975 ABA championship. Gilmore grabbed an amazing 31 rebounds in the final game; that same season the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Title. Colonels owner, John Y. Brown, offered the NBA Champs a million dollars to play a one-game world championship; the Warriors and the NBA refused. The celebration of the 1975 season ended when John Y. Brown, Jr. dealt Dan Issel to the ABA's new Baltimore Claws franchise for financial reasons. They acquired all-star Caldwell Jones to replace him. Jones was dealt mid-season for young Maurice Lucas. Hubie managed to make the team competitive, but they lost in the postseason to the Denver Nuggets in 7 games. Kentucky was one of the league's most talented teams, had one of its best fan bases, but during the ABA's talks of merging with the NBA, the Colonels were not a favorite to change leagues.
As a result, John Y. Brown, Jr. was forced to fold the Colonels. Brown would indeed get an NBA franchise: he purchased the Buffalo Braves in 1976 traded it for the Boston Celtics two years later. Colonels players were distributed to other teams in a dispersal draft, with Artis Gilmore being drafted first by the Chicago Bulls. Maurice Lucas went on to be an all-star for the Portland Trail Blazers and Louie Dampier, who ended up being the all-time leader in points and assists, ended his career as a sixth man for the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Hubie Brown went on to coach the Atlanta Hawks for five seasons after the merger before being fired; the Colonels won 448 games in the ABA, more than any other franchise. The Colonels' overall regular season record was 448–296; the Colonels' playoff record was 55–46. Only the Indiana Pacers won more ABA playoff games. On March 6, 1967, the American Basketball Association awarded the franchise that became the Kentucky Colonels to Don Regan f
The Denver Nuggets are an American professional basketball team based in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets compete in the National Basketball Association as a member club of the league's Western Conference Northwest Division; the team was founded as the Denver Larks in 1967 as a charter franchise of the American Basketball Association, but changed its name to Rockets before the first season. It changed its name again to the Nuggets in 1974. After the name change, the Nuggets played for the final ABA Championship title in 1976, losing to the New York Nets; the team has had some periods of success, qualifying for the ABA Playoffs for all seasons from 1967 to the 1976 ABA playoffs where it lost in the finals. The team joined the NBA in 1976 after the ABA–NBA merger and qualified for the NBA playoffs in nine consecutive seasons in the 1980s and ten consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2013. However, it has not made an appearance in a championship round since its last year in the ABA; the Nuggets play their home games at Pepsi Center, which they share with the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League.
The original Denver Nuggets was founded in the National Basketball League prior to the 1948–49 season. Following that season, the NBL was absorbed into the BAA, renamed to the NBA; the Denver Nuggets played the 1949–50 season as one of the charter NBA teams before folding. In 1967, one of the ABA's charter franchises was awarded to a group in Kansas City, headed by Southern Californian businessman James Trindle. However, Trindle was unable to find a suitable arena in the Kansas City area. League commissioner George Mikan suggested moving the team to Denver. After agreeing to name Denver resident and former NBA player Vince Boryla as general manager, Trindle moved his team to Denver as the Denver Larks, named after Colorado's state bird; the Trindle group was undercapitalized, leading Mikan to order the Larks to post a $100,000 performance bond or lose the franchise. Hours before the deadline, Trindle sold a ⅔ controlling interest to Denver trucking magnate Bill Ringsby for $350,000. Ringsby renamed the team the Rockets, after his company's long-haul trucks.
Playing at the Denver Auditorium Arena, the Rockets had early successes on the court, developing a solid fan base along the way. However, the team had a history of early playoff exits and failed to play in an ABA championship series. Early, they had a solid lineup led by Byron Beck and Larry Jones later by Beck and Ralph Simpson. Lonnie Wright of the American Football League's Denver Broncos signed with the Rockets during that first season and became the first player to play professional football and basketball in the same season. Wright played four seasons with Denver. Controversial rookie Spencer Haywood joined the team for the 1969–70 season. Haywood was one of the first players to turn pro before graduating from college, the NBA refused to let him play in the league. Haywood averaged nearly 30 points and 19.5 rebounds per game in his only ABA season, being named ABA MVP, ABA rookie of the year, as well as the All-Star Game MVP. The team finished 51–33, winning their division, before exiting the playoffs in the 2nd round.
Just before the start of the 1970–71 season, Haywood signed with the Seattle SuperSonics, jumping to the NBA. The team tumbled to a 30–54 record and attendance suffered. Ringsby sold the team to San Diego businessmen Frank Goldberg and Bud Fischer in 1972. In 1974, in anticipation of moving into the NBA, the new McNichols Arena, the franchise held a contest to choose a new team nickname, as "Rockets" was in use by the Houston Rockets; the winning choice was "Nuggets", in honor of the original Nuggets team in Denver from 1948–50, the last year as a charter member of the NBA. Their new logo was a miner "discovering" an ABA ball. Goldberg and Fischer in turn sold the team to a local investment group in 1976. With the drafting and signing of future hall of fame player David Thompson out of North Carolina State, Marvin Webster and the acquisitions of Dan Issel and Bobby Jones and with Larry Brown coaching, they had their best seasons in team history in their first two seasons as the Nuggets. Playing in the Denver Auditorium Arena for the last season the 1974–75 team went 65–16, including a 40–2 record at home.
However, a quick playoff exit followed. In 1975–76, playing at their new arena, the Nuggets edged the reigning champion Kentucky Colonels four games to three to make the 1976 ABA finals for the first time, they lost to the New York Nets and Julius Erving. They did not get a second chance to win an ABA league championship, as the ABA–NBA merger took place after the 1975–76 season; the Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs were merged into the NBA. The Spirits of St. Louis and Kentucky Colonels were disbanded; the Nuggets and Nets had applied to join the NBA in 1975, but were forced to stay in the ABA by a court order. The Nuggets continued their strong play early on in the NBA, as they won division titles in their first two seasons in the league, missed a third by a single game. However, neither of these teams were successful in the postseason. To the other new NBA teams, the Nuggets were given many financial issues including a $2 million entry fee. Red McCombs bought the team in 1978. In 1979, Brown left the team.
It ended in 1981. Moe brought with him a "motion offense" philosophy, a style of play focusing on attempting to move the ball until someone got open. Moe was known for not paying as much attention to defense as his colleagues; the offense helped the team become competitive. During the 1980s
1976 ABA dispersal draft
On August 5, 1976, as a result of the ABA–NBA merger, the NBA hosted a dispersal draft to select players from the Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis, the two American Basketball Association franchises that were not included in the ABA–NBA merger; the eighteen NBA teams and the four ABA teams that joined the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs, were allowed to participate in the draft. The teams selected in reverse order of their win–loss percentage in the previous NBA and ABA seasons; the team that made a selection paid for the signing rights to the player, which were set by the league's committee. The money from the draft was used to help the four ABA teams that merged with the NBA to pay off some of their obligations to the two folded ABA franchises, the Colonels and Spirits; the team that made a selection was obligated to assume the player's ABA contract. The players who were not selected would become free agents. Twenty players from the Colonels and the Spirits were available for the draft.
Eleven were selected in the first round and the twelfth player was selected in the second round. Eight players thus became a free agent; the Chicago Bulls used the first pick to select five-time ABA All-Star Artis Gilmore with a signing price of $1,100,000. The Portland Trail Blazers, who acquired the Atlanta Hawks' second pick, selected Maurice Lucas and Moses Malone with signing price of $300,000 and $350,000 respectively. Marvin Barnes, selected fourth by the Detroit Pistons was the second most expensive player in the draft with a signing price of $500,000. Several teams elected to pass their first-round picks and only the Kansas City Kings used the second-round pick; the draft continued until the third round, but no other players were selected
Richard Francis Dennis Barry III is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and National Basketball Association. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, Barry is the only player to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association, ABA, NBA in scoring for an individual season, he was known for his unorthodox but effective underhand free throw shooting technique, at the time of his retirement in 1980 his.900 free throw percentage ranked first in NBA history. In 1987, Barry was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he is the father of former NBA players Brent Barry, Jon Barry, Drew Barry and current professional player Canyon Barry. Barry grew up in Roselle Park, New Jersey, graduating from Roselle Park High School in 1962. Barry was an All-American basketball player for the University of Miami, where he starred for three seasons. While at Miami, Barry met his wife Pamela, the daughter of Hurricanes head coach Bruce Hale.
As a senior in the 1964–65 campaign, Barry led the NCAA with a 37.4 points-per-game average. Barry and the Hurricanes did not take part in the NCAA Tournament, because the basketball program was on probation at the time. Barry is one of just two basketball players to have his number retired by the school. Barry was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors with the second pick of the 1965 NBA draft. In Barry's first season in the NBA with the Warriors, the team improved from 17 to 35 victories. In the All-Star Game one season Barry erupted for 38 points as the West team stunned the East team, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and head coach Red Auerbach among other all-time greats; that season and company extended the mighty Philadelphia 76ers to six competitive games in the NBA Finals, something that Russell and the Boston Celtics could not do in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That 76ers team is considered to be one of the greatest in basketball history. Nicknamed the "Miami Greyhound" by longtime San Francisco-area broadcaster Bill King because of his slender physical build and remarkable quickness and instincts, the 6'7" Barry won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 25.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in the 1965–66 season.
The following year, he won the 1967 NBA All-Star Game MVP award with a 38-point outburst and led the NBA in scoring with a 35.6 point per game average — which still ranks as the eighth- highest output in league annals. Teamed with star center Nate Thurmond in San Francisco, Barry helped take the Warriors to the 1967 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games. Including a 55-point outburst in Game 3, Barry averaged 40.8 points per game in the series, an NBA Finals record that stood for three decades. Upset that he was not paid incentive monies that he believed due from Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli, Barry jumped to the ABA's Oakland Oaks, who offered him a lucrative contract and the chance to play for Bruce Hale, his then-father-in-law; the three-year contract offer from Pat Boone, the singer and team owner, was estimated to be worth $500,000, with Barry saying "the offer Oakland made me was one I couldn't turn down" and that it would make him one of basketball's highest-paid players.
The courts ordered Barry to sit out the 1967–68 season before he starred in the ABA, upholding the validity of the reserve clause in his contract. He preceded St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Curt Flood, whose better-known challenge to the reserve clause went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court, by two years as the first American major-league professional athlete to bring a court action against it; the ensuing negative publicity cast Barry in a negative light, portraying him as selfish and money-hungry. However, many NBA players at the time were looking at jumping to the ABA for more lucrative contracts. Barry would star in the ABA, twice averaging more than 30 points per game. After the 1966–67 season, Barry became one of the first NBA players to jump to the American Basketball Association when he signed with the Oakland Oaks. In the ABA's first season, the Oaks were the only ABA team located in the same market as an NBA team; the Warriors prevented Barry from playing for the Oaks during the 1967 -- 68 season.
Barry instead worked on Oaks radio broadcasts during the ABA's first season. During the 1968 -- 69 season, Barry averaged 34 points per game, he led the ABA in free-throw percentage for the season. However, on December 27, 1968, late in a game against the New York Nets and Kenny Wilburn collided and Barry tore ligaments in his knee, he tried to play again in January but only aggravated the injury and sat out the rest of the season, only appearing in 35 games as a result. Despite the injury Barry was named to the ABA All-Star team; the Oaks finished with a record of 60-18, winning the Western Division by 14 games over the second place New Orleans Buccaneers. In the 1969 ABA Playoffs the Oaks defeated the Denver Rockets in a seven-game series and defeated New Orleans in the Western Division finals. In the finals the Oaks defeated the Indiana Pacers 4 games to 1 to win the 1969 ABA Championship; the Oaks' on-court success had not translated into solid attendance. The team averaged 2,800 fans per game.
Instead of remaining in Oakland for another season to see if the championship would draw fans, the team was sold by owner Pat Boone and relocated to Washington, D. C. for the 1969–70 season. Barry played the 1969–70 season with the ABA's Washington Caps. Barry did not like the move and refused to report to the team, at one point commenting, "If I wanted to go to Washin